Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two shorts for those who don't like John Wayne

John Wayne isn't everybody's cup of tea, but thankfully, TCM is running a surprising number of shorts in between the John Wayne movies this week. Two of these shorts are coming up during prime time tonight.

First, at about 10:23 PM, or following They Were Expendable (8:00 PM, 135 minutes plus an extended intro/outro with Scott Eyman) is The Friendship Train. The premise of this documentary is that, following World War II, much of Europe was not only in Europe, but starving as well since the war had screwed up their agriculture so much. This was the genesis of CARE. There were other private relief efforts as well, such as this titular "Friendship Train", which started off in Los Angeles courtesy of Warner brother Harry, and worked its way across the country, picking up aid supplies along the way, until it reahced New York where everything would be put on a ship and sent to Europe. This short tells that story. It's nothing earth-shattering, but a nice little document of what America was like back in 1947/8 when the movie was produced.

The other short is A Lady Fights Back, at about 2:48 AM, or following The Fighting Seabees (1:00 AM, 100 minutes plus an intro/outro). This one is an entry in John Nesbitt's Passing Parade series, although it deals with the present day rather than the past as a lot of the Passing Parade shorts did. The short looks at the Normandie, a ship which started off as a luxury transatlantic liner, or at least 1930s style luxury. But in 1939 the war came, and there wasn't any need for luxury liners. Plus, the Normandie had suffered a fire and would have needed extensive renovations anyway. So the plan was to convert the Normandie for military use, and this short looks at that conversion, or at least as much of it as MGM felt they could show what with military secrecy needing to be maintained, as the film was released in late 1944. There's actually a bit of irony in this, as with the success of the D-Day invasion, the conversion wouldn't be done quickly enough for the ship to be put into military use, which resulted in its being scrapped instead. But all that was after filming had finished.

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