Sunday, April 16, 2017


Another movie I didn't realize is available on DVD is Tish, which you can find at the TCM Shop courtesy of the Warner Archive. To be honest, however, Tish is really a movie that's only worth buying if it were part of one of those four-film sets TCM/Warner Home Video put out, likely focusing on one of the character actors who populate this film.

The star is Marjorie Main, playing Letitia "Tish" Carberry, a spinster aunt in one of those New England towns who's raised her nephew Charlie (Lee Bowman) from a young age. He's gone on to become the editor at the town newspaper, and if he could work up the courage, would finally propose to Kit (Virginia Grey), who is the daughter of the town's Judge Bowser (Guy Kibbee).

The judge, for his part, doesn't really like Tish, mostly because Tish insists on trying to run everybody's life in that small town. Tish, for her part, is slightly helped by her two widow friends, Aggie (ZaSu Pitts) and Lizzie (Aline MacMahon), who live at the local boarding house now that they're on limited incomes. Also living there is young orphan Cora (Susan Peters), who thinks she's in love with Charlie and who Tish thinks would be much better for Charlie than Kit would. However, the one who really loves Cora is the judge's son Ted (Richard Quine, who would later quit acting and become a director).

Tish tries to set up Charlie and Cora, but it turns out all she's really able to do is make life difficult for everybody. And it's at this point that the movie takes a surprisingly dark turn. Ted wants to make a man of himself, and since the opening part of the movie is presumably set before Pearl Harbor (the movie was released in September 1942 and the action covers well over a year), Ted signs up to train to be a pilot and fly Lend-Lease planes from Canada to the UK. And once he gets that job, Cora realizes she loves Ted, so elopes with him, to follow Ted to Toronto once he gets settled and the good salary starts rolling in. Cora runs off to Canada stealing some money Tish had in her purse that actually belonged to the church's organ fund, and Ted's boat gets torpedoed on the way back across the Atlantic. And Tish winds up with temporary custody of Cora's baby....

Tish really isn't a bad movie, a good example of the sort of B movies that MGM was producing back in the day. I generally prefer Warner Bros. B movies, but this one is one of the better-made and more interesting ones to come from MGM, with a bit less of the treacly moralizing that I often find in MGM's B movies. Marjorie Main dominates, of course, and not just because she's the leading character. Aline MacMahon and ZaSu Pitts are both quite good in support as Tish's two best friends. Lee Bowman is OK but his character is supposed to be a bit mousy so he comes across as bland. Not Bowman's fault, but more the way the character is written. Poor Susan Peters wound up with a tragic life; she sparkles. Guy Kibbee doesn't have all that much to do.

Tish, as I said, is pretty good, so it's a bit of a shame that it's only available in a standalone format from the Warner Archive. Those discs can be pretty pricey, and for a B movie, there should probably be something in a budget option available.

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