Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Star of the Month: Humphrey Bogart

TCM's Star of the Month for December, 2009 is Humphrey Bogart, and they're honoring him by showing some 60 of his movies. In order to do that, they need to devote one entire 24-hour block each week to him. That started at 6:00 AM this morning, and will continue every Wednesdy throughout the month. By the time this gets posted, you'll have missed Three on a Match, but of course I've already recommended it, and it's made its way to DVD as well. A Bogart movie that's even less known is One Fatal Hour (also known as Two Against the World), airing at 5:00 AM ET tomorrow morning.

Bogart stars as a programmer at a New York radio station that's losing the ratings war. In order to try to get people to tune in, they come up with a lurid idea: find Martha Carstairs, a woman who was involved in a celebrated murder case 20 years earlier, and run a series of programs about the case leading up to revealing the whereabouts of the real-life Martha in the last episode. Unfortunately for the radio people, the poor woman has tried to live a respectable life since the trial, remarrying to a good man, and having a daughter who is now engaged to be married into the uppercrust. It goes without saying that the intrusion of the media turns everybody's lives upside-down. Not only is Martha furious because she wanted to leave her past in the past; the incident threatens her completely innocent daughter's marriage.

Bogart was not yet an A-list star when he made One Fatal Hour, meaning that we "only" get him in a zippy B-movie here. That having been said, it is fast-paced and, while not without its flaws (the rest of the cast besides Bogart is decidedly even less than B-list), Bogart does a good job, and the under-an-hour running time means you'll never be bored. That having been said, One Fatal Hour is a remake of a much better movie, 1931's Five Star Final, which starred Edward G. Robinson and was set in the newspaper world. Neither movie seems to have been released to DVD, which is a shame.

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