Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rhonda Fleming night on TCM

TCM is putting the spotlight on actress Rhonda Fleming tonight. Fleming, now 91, was a flaming red-headed beauty of the 1940s and 1950s, and I'm surprised to see that I never found a good publicity still to use to illustrate a post about any movie of hers. The night kicks off at 8:00 PM with Out of the Past, a movie which only has Fleming in a small part and which I'm a bit surprised I've never done a full-length blog post on before. Then again, that might be because I do have a few problems with the movie. To me, it really feels like there's a very distinct past part and then the noir present which are much more separate than a whole lot of other movies that have flashbacks. To me it really muddles the whole story and detracts a bit from what everybody else says is an outstanding film.

Second up, at 9:45 PM, is Home Before Dark, in which Fleming plays the step-sister of star Jean Simmons. It's a mess, but fun at times; I just wish it didn't clock in at an overlong 137 minutes.

It's slightly odd that TCM picked a pair of black-and-white movies to start off the night of Rhonda Fleming films, since Technicolor was exceedingly kind to her. The first of the color films tonight is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, with Bing Crosby playing the Mark Twain character who winds up a millennium before his time. That's followed at 2:15 AM by a film I'd never heard of before, Instant Love, so I can't say much about it.

Last up is the hilariously awful The Crowded Sky, at 4:00 AM, which has Fleming playing the wife of military pilot Efrem Zimbalist Jr. This is an all-star movie about a pair of planes on a collision course, where all of the characters have problems and lay them bare for us, including a series of wildly overdone voiceovers and a whole bunch of stereotypes. Sure, it's terrible, but it's one of those movies that fun to watch precisely because it's terrible.

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