Friday, May 10, 2013

Illeana Douglas returns

Tonight is the second Friday in May, so TCM is giving us the second week of this month's Friday Night Spotlight, of movies that deserve a second look. I thought Douglas did quite well flying solo last week: she seemed knowledgeable about what she was presenting, and I think really cares about the movies too. She didn't exude quite as much warmth as Robert Osborne does, but then, how many people do? The one other problem was the spartan set, for which I don't think you can really blame her. It was mostly brightish blue backdrops, which was bad enough, but Illeana exacerbated the problem by wearing an outfit that was purple and red. She might have fit in well on those red armchairs on Robert Osborne's set, but against that blue background, boy was it garish.

Anyhow, the movies that Douglas is presenting tonight do deserve a second look, even if one I would suggest is pretty lousy. In fact, the first one deserves another look if only because it's one I knew next to nothing about before it showed up on this month's schedule: The Great Moment at 8:00 PM, starring Joel McCrea as a dentist in the mid-19th century trying to popularize the use of ether as an anesthetic in dentistry. What's interesting about it is that it was directed by Preston Sturges, based on a true story, and is subject material that's decidedly un-Sturges-like.

That's followed at 9:30 PM by The Horn Blows at Midnight, a dream-sequence comedy in which Jack Benny dreams he's been sent by the angel Gabiel to destroy Earth with a horn blast. Benny apparently didn't think this was such a good movie, but it's really not that bad.

Under Capricorn, at 11:00 PM, may be as bad as anybody suggests. Alfred Hitchcock directs this misfire set in 19th century Australia about Ingrid Bergman as a dispomaniac; her hasband Joseph Cotten; and Irish emigrant Michael Wilding who knew Bergman back in the day. It's un-Hitchockian material, and boy does it show. It's airing again in July, so I might do a full-length blog post about it then.

Another moie that's going to be getting another airing in the not too distant future is Above and Beyond (1:15 AM), which I also think isn't all that bad. This is a biopic of Col. Paul Tibbetts, who flew the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Or, mostly, it's about the run-up, and how the requisite secrecy surrounding the program affected everybody. Robert Taylor plays Tibbetts; June Star of the Month Eleanor Parker (which is why it's airing again next month) plays his wife.

The Horn Blows at Midnight is the only one that doesn't seem to be on DVD at all.

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