Monday, June 3, 2013

TCM Star of the Month June 2013: Eleanor Parker

Now that we're into the first full week of a new month, we get a new Star of the Month on TCM, and this time it's a real star as opposed to the "tough guys" we had back in May. The movies of Eleanor Parker will be gracing TV screens tuned to TCM every Monday night in June. On this first Monday in June, we get several of Parker's early films starting with her very first movie, Busses Roar, at 8:00 PM. This short (about an hour) B movie is part Grand Hotel, and part Speed, at least the Sandra Bullock movie with that title. The denizens of a bus station at the start of America's involvement in World War II have to deal with a plot by the Nazis to time-bomb a bus so that it will blow up near an oil refinery that a Japanese sub off the coast can then bomb. An interesting idea that I'm really looking forward to; unsurprisingly, a little B movie like this hasn't even gotten a DVD release via the Warner Archive.

Two of the movies later in the night might be more well-known. First, at 11:00 PM, is Between Two Worlds. This 1944 film was a remake of the 1930 movie Outward Bound, so if you want to know the plot, click on the link. Interestingly enough, Outward Bound is on this week's schedule, at 6:45 AM Friday, so you can watch both versions this week.

And then there's Mission to Moscow, overnight at 1:00 AM. This is the story of US Ambassador to the Soviet Union Joseph E. Davies (played by Walter Huston), as told by Davies himself in memoirs he wrote. I don't know whether Davies was a stooge, incredibly naïve, or both. But Davies was ambassador from 1936 to 1938, before being reassigned to Belgium. This was the period of Stalin's notorious show trials, which led to a purge and millions of people winding up in the Gulag. And yet the film, released in 1943, is a puff piece, because after all both the US and Soviets were fighting the Nazis, and we had to keep from pissing them off. And Franklin Roosevelt apparently really wanted this film made. I always find it interesting how, when it comes to a movie like this, there are attempts made to hand-wave away the propaganda with, "Well, you have to look at it as a product of its time," but when it comes to the anti-Communist movies that came out after the war, there are never any excuses like that made.

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