Thursday, December 12, 2013

Van Heflin's birthday tomorrow

December 13 marks the birthday of actor Van Heflin, and TCM will be spending much of Friday morning and afternoon with Heflin's movies. I was looking to do a post on Saturday's Heroes (7:45 AM), but I see that I've already mentioned it briefly. So I'll post those comments again, and then expand on them:

Here, he plays a college football player who sees the corruption going on surrounding the college football team -- and the administration supporting it -- at his school, and doesn't like it. When he protests, he gets kicked off the team. How does he respond? He gets the local sportswriter to help him get a coaching job at the school's main rival!

One of the things I didn't mention in that brief synopsis is that Heflin is also engaging in the corruption himself, to the tune of scalping tickets, and it's when that scalping is revealed that a lot of the plot conflict begins. This one I think doesn't have the trope of a college being in dire straits and needing the football team to be successful, but it does have some of the other tropes. One involves the character of Heflin's girlfriend (played by Marian Marsh). Now, there's nothing stereotypical about a college football player having a girlfriend, but once again, the girlfriend is the daughter of somebody important to the plot. In Gridiron Flash which I mentioned the other day, it was a campus security officer; here it's the coach of the football team. (Elsewhere in the movies there's Eleven Men and a Girl, in which the woman is the daughter of the college president!)

The professional versus amateur thing was actually an issue back in the 1930s, so that's not quite a trope. Andy Devine, as I understand it, played semipro football before playing in college. The movie, of course, climaxes with the big game between two rival schools, and heaven knows we've seen that in several thousand other college football movies. Still, Saturday's Hero is a reasonably entertaining way to spend an hour. As far as I know, it still hasn't received a DVD release of any sort.

TCM apparently honored Van Heflin on his birthday two years ago as well. That's when I blogged about Grand Central Murder, an eminently enjoyable little B movie that's on at 11:00 AM tomorrow. Heflin is at his wisecraking best, and MGM assembled a cast of oddball stock characters who ably perform around Heflin. When I blogged about this one I also mentioned Kid Glove Killer, which I enjoy even more, but which unfortunately isn't on tomorrow's TCM lineup. But Grand Central Murder is a more than fun enough movie to sit down with with a bowl of popcorn. This one does seem to have received a DVD release courtesy of the Warner Archive


1 comment:

Unknown said...

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