Saturday, July 6, 2013

Maxwell's Silver Hammer

TCM is devoting half a night of movies to playwright Maxwell Anderson. I didn't realize quite how many of Anderson's works have been turned into movies, but there are a lot. Anderson wrote the original stage play Key Largo back in 1939, and the 1948 movie version is this week's TCM Essential at 8:00 PM. Humphrey Bogart plays a man who goes to visit a friend in the Florida Keys, only to find himself stuck in a hostage drama involving gangster Edward G. Robinson. Apparently I haven't done a full-length post on this one before; at any rate, one thing to watch for in this film is a scene with Robinson taking a bath, cigar in hand. The thought of a fifty-something, half-naked Robinson is really quite frightening.

Key Largo is followed at 10:00 PM by the 1952 version of What Price Glory, which was originally a stage play in 1924, and then made into a silent film a few years later. James Cagney and Dan Dailey star as a pair of Marines in World War I who fight each other while they're fighting the war and trying to get the girl (Corinne Calvet). This is a movie that I personally have a problem with, in that Cagney's marine commander is such a martinet at the beginning of the movie that it's difficult to have any sympathy for him; it also makes the movie a bit tough to sit through.

The last of tonight's Anderson movies is The Bad Seed, which I blogged about back in December 2008. It comes on at midnight, which is a bit of a shame, except that it's also a good movie to be a lead-in to TCM Underground.

That having been said, there are several other films from Anderson plays that aren't getting an airing. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex was originally a play called Elizabeth the Queen. The final scene from the play also opens up the movie The Guardsman, although the main movie is based on a play by Ferenc Molnar, who himself wrote a lot of stuff that got turned into movies. Also about English royalty are Mary of Scotland and Anne of the Thousand Days.

Anderson also did the adaptations for the 1930 version of All Quiet on the Western Front, and 1934's Death Takes a Holiday.

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