Monday, October 31, 2016

The Pride and the Passion

I've read that producer Stanley Kramer was fond of making message pictures. If that's the case, then the message of The Pride and the Passion must have been, "I'm arrogant enough to think I can put Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra in a costume drama and make it work."

The setting is Spain in 1810. Napoleon was running much of the Continent, and he had put one of his family on the Spanish throne, also occupying the place with a whole bunch of French troops. One company is dragging a cannon around, and it's more trouble than it's worth, so they ditch the thing down a ravine. The British find out, and sent naval man Anthony (Cary Grant) with a British company to retrive the cannon and bring it to the coast at Santander.

He retrives the cannon, but when he gets it to the flat land above the ravine, he's met by Miguel (Frank Sinatra). Miguel leads a bunch of rebels from Ávila, which is well inland. And dammit, Miguel wants to use that cannon to take Ávila back from the French. Miguel has more force with him than Anthony, so you can guess which way the cannon is going to go.

The Pride and the Passion is filled with one trope after another of the sort that you'd see in the wagon train-style western, or a bunch of military movies. One is that there has to be a love interest to be both a source of conflict between the two male leads, and to moderate between them. That part, Juana, is played by Sophia Loren.

Other tropes involve getting that cannon over, around, or through a whole bunch of obstacles. There are mountains, a river, a treeless plain, a bridge for a detachment to blow up, and a whole bunch of French patrols they have to avoid. Commanding those forces from Ávila is General Jouvet, played by Theodore Bikel who is about as well cast as Grant and Sinatra.

And then there are the silly ones, like the "village" that has a cathedral and thousands of people dressed in what look like Ku Klux Klan outfits, complete with pointy hoods, doing some sort of religious ritual. Oh, and there's the priest who doesn't want to hide the cannon in his cathedral; you wonder why.

It all goes on like this for a runtime of 132 hours. Well, it only feels like 132 hours; the running time is actually 132 minutes, which is still entirely too long. Poor Cary Grand and Frank Sinatra are terribly miscast, leading this viewer to laugh at a whole lot of this movie, which was clearly not the intent. And then there's the music. At times it's overpowering, with the musical cues being blatantly obvious.

Even the lovely Technicolor cinematography of Spain and of Sophia Loren can't save this one. But it's the sort of thing you might want to judge for yourself. The movie is available on DVD and Blu-ray from the TCM Shop. Amazon, meanwhile, seems to be running a special deal that's only available to those who have Amazon Prime. Not that I have any plans to buy this one.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween Monday

I have to admit I'm really disappointed I didn't stay up for the end of Carnival of Souls last night; unfortunately since I get up at 4:30 on weekdays I don't stay up all that late on weekends. I only saw the first half and now I really want to see the whole thing. But at least there some other good movies coming up on TCM on Halloween that I've already blogged about:

Cat People, is one of the great ones, showing how even a low-budget movie can create an excellent atmosphere of horror by driving the viewer's imagination. You can catch it at 7:15 AM.

Dementia 13, about strange goings on at an Irish manor house, will be on at 9:45 AM.

Finally, I'd like to mention the British horror anthology Dead of Night. It'll be on at 2:30 PM. In this one, not only are the horror stories pretty darn good, but the framing story is surprisingly good. In a lot of anthologies there's little or no framing story. Apparently, this one has been released to DVD since I last posted about it, but that cover art doesn't look right at all.

Apologies for not knowing about last night's schedule

Apparently the print of the first movie in TCM's prime time lineup last night, Blood and Black Lace, was longer than they realized when they put out the monthly schedule. I was looking at the monthly schedule, and the movie is listed as being an 84-minute movie in a 90-minute slot. This would have fit, leaving space for the intro/outro by Ron Perlman. However, it turns out that by the time they put up the daily/weekly lineup, they had an 88-minute runtime, which means that after the intro and outro, you're over the 90 minutes.

So, the weekly schedule had the correct start times for all the movies. Surprisingly, my box guide didn't. I was channel surfing after watching an exciting hockey game, and was surprised to see a trailer for Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1:00 AM Wednesday) at about 9:39 PM, when, according to the box guide, Carnival of Souls should have been on.

The promo stuff went until 9:45, when Carnival of Souls began, just as the weekly schedule said it should. The schedule, in fact, didn't catch up until after The Baby, which the monthly schedule listed as an 85-minute movie in a 105-minute slot. In fact, the weekly schedule had it in a 90-minute slot with no intro or outro, since I think the guest hosts have generally only been doing three movies a night. I'm especially thankful this is where the schedule caught up since I had set The Baby to record and forgot to pad out any extra time once I noticed the schedule was off.

I'm actually kind of surprised that the box guide was off, since that normally only gets the information a few weeks in advance, and I presume corrects itself -- we had a power outage a week ago, and I'd have thought the box guide would have updated then.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

So I finally got around to watching The Taking of Pelham One Two Three off my DVR recently. It's in print on DVD and Blu-ray, and is well worth watching.

Set in New York in the era just before Gerald Ford told the city to "drop dead", but not showing quite as much of what was going wrong with the city as some other movies, this one starts off juxtaposing two scenes. One is of a subway train going along its regularly scheduled route, and a trainee subway driver; the other is of the NYC Transit Police operations center and how they keep the trains running. In the latter scene, Lt. Garber (Walter Matthau) is giving a tour to a bunch of Japanese police, something he'd clearly rather not be doing.

For better or worse, Garber is about to get out of that unpleasant duty. Going back to that subway we saw in the opening, four men have gotten aboard. Led by Bernard Ryder (Robert Shaw), who uses the code-name "Blue", their plan is to hijack the train, which seems insane since the darn thing can only run on tracks. But obviously they've got a plan for how they're going to escape, or else they wouldn't be doing this. Blue is no dummy. He's assembled "Green" (Martin Balsam), a former subway motorman; "Grey" (Hector Elizondo) and "Brown" (Earl Hindman) will make certain the hostages don't get out of hand, shooting any of them if necessary.

After taking over the train, the hostage-takers have the train decoupled so that there's only one passenger car remaining, and release their demands. One million dollars (this is 1974 dollars, mind you) in one hour, or else they'll shoot one hostage per minute. Poor Garber doesn't have much choice other than to try to figure out what the hijackers are getting at, while negotiating the deals of the ransom.

Meanwhile, the Mayor (Lee Wallace) has been informed of what's going on, and has to figure out how to get everything to finish smoothly while he's got chaos all around him. After all, a hijacked train means you kind of have to empty out the subway stations, which will lead to all sorts of traffic problems on the streets above. But there's not much choice.

It sounds from my synopsis as though there's not much going on, and in some senses, that really is the case. That's because the writers have come up with a darn good story and don't feel the need to fill it with all sorts of extraneous information. Instead, we get a movie that pretty much starts with the action from the opening, and goes on non-stop until, well, I won't tell you precisely how it ends. But everything fits together well, and it doesn't feel as if there's a thing out of place.

It helps to have somebody like Walter Matthau giving the lead performance. The more I think about him, the more I find it amazing how he was able to switch effortless from comedies like the ones he did with Jack Lemmon to tense dramas like this. But Robert Shaw as the head of the hijackers is quite good, too. The rest of the supporting cast does a capable job, although other than the other three hijackers, none of them are particularly big characters. Not that the script needs them to be. If there's one problem, it's that the passengers are cardboard cutouts mean to show that anybody could have been stuck on the subway. But then, the story isn't about them the way it is in, say, The Incident.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Halloween is on Monday, if you couldn't figure that out

We're three days away from Halloween. Since it's on a Monday, it is I suppose a good time to use the weekend to run a whole bunch of horror-themed stuff.

TCM, unsurprisingly, is doing that, more or less. Tonight's prime-time lineup includes a bunch of Universal's horror movies, that being the studio generally thought of as having the best horror movies in the 1930s and 1940s. After all, they're the ones who brought us Frankenstein (not on the lineup since TCM was spending Sundays this month with the good doctor and his monster) and Dracula (8:00 PM tonight). But there are a bunch of lesser-remembered movies too.

And then there are some movies that aren't quite horror, although they obviously have themes that would fit in to a Halloween-weekend lineup. Topper, which will be on at 6:00 AM Sunday, is a good example of this. There's no horror in this one at all, as it's a straight-up comedy. But it's about ghosts, so it fits in on the weekend. TCM Underground this weekend isn't exactly horror, since we get another showing of Wild in the Streets at 4:00 AM Sunday, but that movie could be considered frightening, I suppose. If it weren't so bad it wound up funny.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Meanwhile, back on TCM....

TCM will be spending Friday morning and afternoon showing some of the movies of William Gargan. I don't know much about him, but apparently he wrote an autobiography that sounds really interesting. And only four bucks. I may have to get myself a copy.

Anyhow, I've blogged about a couple of the movies that are showing up; most of the lineup is filled with relatively lesser-known movies. If I had to guess, I think I'd say Cheers for Miss Bishop at 3:15 PM is the best-known. But for the two I've blogged about there's:

Aggie Appleby, Maker of Men at 7:00 AM. Gargan plays Aggie's first boyfriend, who gets sent up the river only to return and find Aggie with a new boyfriend, which of course is a problem.

Then at 10:45 AM there's British Agent, which stars Leslie Howard as the British Consul in the early days of the Soviet Union who meets Lenin's personal secretary (Kay Francis). Gargan plays, if memory serves, an American diplomat. I think he's a diplomat; he might be a reporter. I haven't seen the movie since I blogged about it back in 2011, and I didn't think to mention Gargan in that post.

Carmen Miranda marathon

In another sign that somebody at FXM Retro seems to be thinking at least a little bit, I see that the programmers there have decided to put all of the Carmen Miranda movies they currently have in the rotation together. So, if you like Carmen Miranda -- and sometimes she's the most interesting thing in an otherwise subpar movie -- you're in luck.

The mini-marathon starts tomorrow morning at 8:50 AM with If I'm Lucky, a movie I've more or less panned here before mostly because Perry Como is such a bland actor, even more bland than he was as a singer. Even Miranda can't save this stuff.

Next up is That Night in Rio at 10:10 AM. This one has Alice Faye in Brazil, getting involve in a plot to have an American impersonator (Don Ameche) impersonate her husband (Ameche, in a double role) to help a business deal go through. Miranda is the girlfriend of the impersonator.

Then we get might be Miranda's best musical number (although I admit to not having seen every Miranda movie) in The Gang's All Here at 11:45 AM. This is the "Lady With the Tutti Frutti Hat" number, which has to be seen to be believed. The plot is a silly one about a nightclub singer falling in love with a rich guy about to go off and fight World War II. Complications ensue when he returns home a hero, since his parents have other ideas for him than marrying a showgirl.

Finally, at 1:30 PM, there's Something for the Boys, which has Fox's ladies playing army wives who take over an old home near an army base and turning it into a place for the wives to stay, putting on a show to raise the money for the necessary renovations and to keep the place going. Where are Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland when we need them? Oh, that's right, they're still over at MGM.

If you miss the marathon tomorrow, don't worry -- all four movies are on the Saturday schedule too, although not all of them are back to back. That Night in Rio kicks off the FXM Retro schedule at 3:00 and the other three start from 7:10 AM Saturday.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

We are protected by the enormity of my stupidity, for a time

I just had an insight last night. When I watch a movie off my DVR, I probably ought to write a full-length post about it right after watching. Or more likely, the next morning, since I like to watch a lot of them on Friday and Saturday evenings before going to bed. Then, using Blogger's platform, I can save them as drafts, posting them at some point in the future when I see the movie is coming up on TV or when I have nothing else to write about.

I could have done that months ago with something like The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy, which is/was on TCM this morning at 6:00 AM. (Probably, by the time most of you read this, you'll have missed the airing.) I only realized last night that I hadn't posted anything about the movie. Or, at least, Blogger's search software isn't yielding any hits, and with my change of computers a few months back, I don't know if I have a post on the movie on my computer now.

How could I not have thought of doing this before?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

About that AT&T/Time Warner merger

A few days ago, it hit the news that AT&T was looking to acquire Time Warner. Since Time Warner is the parent company of TCM, any number of TCM fans started worrying. I'm not a media analyst or anything like that, but I think any worry is overblown.

If the merger is about acquiring channels, I think other channels than TCM are the focus. CNN would be a likely one. And since AT&T owns DirecTV, one would have to guess that TCM's space on DirecTV wouldn't be in any jeopardy. I suppose other cable providers could try to harm AT&T's channels, but that would open up a legal can of worms. (There was some controversy some years back with Comcast trying to shaft some non-Comcast niche sports channels.) Any threat to a channel like TCM would come from the general shift to streaming media, and the complicated rights situations that brings up.

And of course, there's the possibility the deal won't go through. A lot of grandstanding legislators and regulators think they should have a say in the matter. Both halves of the Clump v. Trinton presidential campaign have implied the merger may not be a certainty. That having been said, I pointed out back in October 2011 that getting government involved isn't a panacea.

In short, whatever happens to TCM is going to happen regardless of any merger, I think. Why waste time worrying about it?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Briefs for October 24-25, 2016

So I got an email from Amazon yesterday. One of those robo-messages, of course, telling me that I might be interested in certain products, based on what I've bought recently. Surprisingly, one of the products was a movie I just watched off the DVR recently but I thought was out of print. It turns out that I was right, and the movie is out of print, but somebody's selling a copy for a not ridiculously bad $19.99. I decided to look for some of the other movies not available at the TCM Shop, and there was an Amazon seller selling one of them for about $130. Needless to say, I'm not doing a full-length post on that movie any time soon.

TCM is running Hollywood: The Dream Factory again this afternoon at 3:15 PM. I still haven't seen it, and so can't comment any further on it, even though I mentioned it close to two years ago now.

TCM is showing a bunch of Christopher Lee's Dracula movies tonight. They're not saving those movies for Halloween, which is next Monday, instead deciding to show more of a cross-section of Lee's horror work next Monday. I have to admit to never having been the biggest fan of Hammer horror, although that's more a matter of personal preference than of the movies actually not being good.

And for those of you who like yourselves some hero worship, you can see Hollywood's portrayal of the FBI all morning and afternoon Tuesday. Some of the movies, such as Confessions of a Nazi Spy at 9:00 AM are excellent; others like I Was a Communist for the FBI are only OK but interesting.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hips, Hips, Hooray!

I've been looking through the list of films I've watched off my DVR recently, and surprisingly, I've picked a bunch of films that are out-of-print on DVD, which is a shame, since I'd really like to recommend some of the movies. One that does happen to be available is Hips, Hips, Hooray!, which is on a nine-film set of the works of Wheeler and Woolsey.

In this one, Wheeler and Woolsey (the latter is the one with the glasses and cigar) play Andy and Dr. Dudley respectively, but more on them in a bit. The movie starts off with the Maiden America beauty products company doing a radio show, complete with opening song by Ruth Etting (she of the Love Me or Leave Me biopic; the opening song is all she appears in the movie, however). It turns out that the company is floundering, and if sales don't increase, people will have to be let go. What they don't know is that their adman Beauchamp (George Meeker) is in cahoots with competitor Irene (Phyllis Barry).

Meanwhile, Andy and Dr. Dudley are just across the street from the Maiden America flagship, hawking products out of the back of their car and attracting a crowd the way a carnival barker does. In this movie, they're selling flavored lipsticks. The cops are on to them, however, and they have to beat a hasty escape. But Andy's girlfriend Daisy (Dorothy Lee) works for Maiden America, and when she hears about the flavored lipsticks and Dr. Dudleys lies about how wealthy the two are (why would anybody believe those two guys?), she tells her boss Miss Frisby (Thelma Todd) that Maiden America should partner with these guys.

So Andy and Dudley commandeer an office to pitch their product to Frisby. It turns out to be the office of an investment banker, who is just about to take a satchel full of securities to be deposited. Eventually, that banker returns to the commandeered office, and Andy and Dudley have to beat a hasty escape. They take what is supposed to be their satchel full of the flavored lipsticks, but of course they take the wrong satchel and wind up with the bonds. Oops.

Eventually, they have to leave town entirely, and it just so turns out that Frisby has sponsored a car in a cross-country car race, just as Irene has. Andy and Dudley eventually come across the car while they're hitch-hiking, and get in it, taking part in the race themselves.

Wheeler and Woolsey can be an acquired taste, and Hips, Hips, Hooray probably requires a bit more acquisition than some of their other movies. That's not to say that the movie is bad; it's just that it requires a certain mindset. There are some trick photography shots at a pool hall that I don't think will be everybody's type of humor, as well as a lot of comedy that can be grating. I've mentioned on several occasions that I'm not a fan of what I call the "comedy of lies", where the main character lies and then has to expand upon that lie to keep the ruse going. That happens quite a bit in this one. But there's enough in the movie that's wacky enough to be entertaining, and the movie is short enough that even if you don't like it, it's not as if you'll feel you've wasted a lot of time. (And if it's that bad you can fast forward through the musical numbers.)

If you like Wheeler and Woolsey, you can get the nine-movie set at a relatively reasonable price. But then again, I wouldn't be surprised if Wheeler and Woolsey fans have already done that. On the whole, though, I think I'd recommend waiting for one or two of the duo's movies to show up on TCM and watch there before deciding whether to buy the set if you haven't already seen any of their films.

I was wrong about City of God

I mentioned yesterday that I didn't think City of God wasn't coming up. However, it turns out that I wasn't searching all of the premium channels. (I'm currently not subscribing to any of the premium services what with the price and the backlog of movies I've got on my DVR right now.) It turns out that City of God is coming up once, tomorrow at 7:00 AM on Starz in Black.

If I understand, this is part of the Starz package, which is generally sold separately from the Starz Encore package, which used to be just Encore but changed its name about six months ago. The Starz Encore package has its own Starz Encore Black channel which runs a completely different lineup. (I'm surprised there doesn't seem to have been any move to consolidate all these channels, although I suppose they're considering it bad for business.)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Cidade de Deus

A few weekends back, I finally got around to watching City of God off my DVR. It seems to be available on both DVD and Blu-ray at the TCM Shop, so I'm comfortable doing a full-length post on it even though I don't think it's coming on TV any time soon.

The movie starts off with a bunch of young men and boys in what looks like the edge of one of Rio de Janerio's favelas and a slightly wealthier part of the city about to have a barbecue chicken feast, with them about to wring the live chicken's neck on the spot. However, the chicken escapes and the group chases after that, which is when they run into photographer "Rocket" (Alexandre Rodrigues). Rocket recognizes the head of the gang chasing after the chicken....

Flash back to when Rocket was a boy, in the 1960s. He lived in the "City of God", which was a then-new development created by the government on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro to house people who had been displaced by flooding. It's a tough life, as those who try to make an honest living scrape by doing odd jobs. Other people, especially adolescent boys, decide that they won't be able to survive doing such odd jobs, and take the dishonest route of getting what they want through violent crime.

First, the gang violence affects the people who are the age of Rocket's elder brother, but then as time goes on it ensnares people who are Rocket's age and even younger, and the crime escalates from highway robbery to large-scale drug dealing. Unsurprisingly, the City of God winds up with two rival drug gangs, and various people caught in the middle.

Rocket, meanwhile, tries to take a more honest way out of the City of God, although of course it's not always easy. And on the edge of all this is the outside world when the crime affects people on the outside and brings the police in; it seems as if the only time the police really gives a damn is when it looks like the violence is going to spill over and cause problems for "polite" society.

City of God has a relatively simple synopsis on the face of it, but it's really a lot more complicated than that. That's down to the story structure, which starts in the "present", by which I mean that the the setting is close to the end of the story at the start, and most of the movie is the backstory of how we got to where we are. The start of the movie is actually set in the late 1970s, about a quarter century before the movie was released (2002).

I suppose you could call it a flashback, but I don't think that quite does it justice. The flashback actually goes to various points in time, suddenly stopping when Rocket points out that we need to learn the back story of a different character who's going to show up later in a key way. And some events, such as a hotel robbery, are revisited multiple times from the perspective of different characters. That having been said, the story structure works spectacularly, even though it's one that definitely requires a good deal of attention.

City of God is an engrossing movie with an interesting story to tell, and one which is ultimately told very well. One caveat, however, is that the story contains a lot of violence. And that's an understatement. The violence is unrelenting, shocking, and frankly disturbing in some cases (such as a gang initiation; I won't go further). Although the main characters are almost all children up to young adults (maybe in their early 20s maximum), this isn't a movie for children thanks to the violence. And the sex. One of the running subplots involves Rocket trying to find love and sex, another incident involves rape, and that hotel robbery that I mentioned earlier is at a hotel where people go to cavort with prostitutes and mistresses. It's not the pretty side of life, but it's a side of life that needs to be shown.

City of God comes with one of the higher recommendations I can give. If you haven't seen it before, it's highly worth a watch.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Horror movies I've seen, and some I haven't

TCM's been running a bunch of horror on Friday nights. I haven't been watching much, mostly because my DVR is full up and I've been trying to get through the backlog of movies on it. Fat chance of that; every time I watch one thing there are three others I want to record.

Tonight kicks off at 8:00 PM with the 1941 Spencer Tracy version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which I think I've seen in its entirety, although I'd probably be conflating it with the earlier Fredric March version if I tried to do a full-length post on either movie.

At 10:00 PM, there's one I've definitely seen since I've done a full-length post on it: Eyes Without a Face. If you haven't seen this one before, I can highly recommend it, as a good movie.

A movie I can recommend because it's so bad it a heck of a lot of fun is The Brain that Wouldn't Die, early tomorrow morning at 5:15 AM. Doctor studying limb transplants gets in a car crash that kills his fiancée, and spends the rest of the movie trying to find a body to go with his fiancée's disembodied head. She, needless to say, is none too pleased.

That's followed at 6:45 AM by The Killer Shrews, which surprisingly I haven't done a full-length post on, although I've mentioned it a couple of times. Scientific experiments gone awry have led to an island where giant shrews have lethal bites; people try to get off the island. Awful but another hoot.

Amazingly, I don't think I've seen any of the movies in between. There's Boris Karloff in The Body Snatcher at 11:45 PM, which I know shows up on the schedule all the time, especially every October, yet I still haven't gotten around to seeing it.

William Castle's Macabre comes up at 2:45 AM. I've seen several of Castle's movies, but I don't think this one is among them.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I haven't embedded a Robert Benchley short before

Of course, there are a couple of reasons I haven't done it. First is that those Robert Benchley shorts are an acquired taste. As with the Pete Smith shorts, the humor can be grating, although in a different way. When I watch a Robert Benchley short, I find he can come across as an obnoxious blowhard at times, the sort of person you want to see get his comeuppance. And that's not always funny.

Then, there's the fact that the shorts aren't in the public domain yet. I think it's only stuff from before 1923 that's guaranteed to be in the public domain, at least here in the States. That means the shorts could get taken down at any time. The last copyright change about 15 years ago was responsible for that. Cynics would say that it got changed so Disney could keep Steamboat Willie from entering the public domain. (I'd tend to side with the cynics.)

Having said that, Benchley's How to Vote is on TCM tomorrow at about 1:30 PM, following Torchy Runs For Mayor (12:30 PM, 60 min); several of the Torchy movies are on as part of a salute to Glenda Farrell. (This even though her birthday is in June.) How to Vote doesn't seem to be on Youtube, but others, such as How to Eat, are:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's still around, and somebody's actually thinking

I remember at the beginning of 2012 writing about the change from the Fox Movie Channel to the format where half the day was "FXM" and the other half still had the old movies without commercials. I wrote something about giving that six months before it disappeared. Well, here it is closing in on five years, and amazingly, the corporate folks haven't done much of anything, other than change the format name from the Fox Movie Channel to FXM Retro. Sure they have a ridiculous number of repeats, but that was always the case even when it was the Fox Movie Channel 24 hours a day.

And sometimes I wonder whether there's actually somebody thinking when the movies are programmed. Take today's schedule. Starting at 6:00 AM we get A Letter to Three Wives, which is certainly a classic and a good movie for them to be running.

That's followed at 7:45 AM by 23 Paces to Baker Street, with Van Johnson playing a blind playwright overhearing a kidnapping plot and trying to prove it's actually going to happen. I've got that one on my DVR and should have watched it over the weekend so I could do a full-length post here. (I've read, however, by somebody else who watched a recent FXM Retro showing that the print is panned-and-scanned. Not a surprise.)

Then at 9:30 AM there's These Thousand Hills; The Story on Page One comes up at 11:15, and finally we have Five Weeks in a Balloon at 1:15 PM.

I assume you see the commonality. Somebody must have taken a look at the movies available to FXM Retro currently and decided, "Hey! All of these have numbers in the title! Let's run them together!" They did the same thing not so long ago with movies with colors in the title.

So perhaps FXM Retro will still be around a while longer. And perhaps I'll get around to watching 23 Paces to Baker Street before the next showing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trailblazing repeats

Well, I don't think the Trailblazing Women series is repeating movies they ran earlier in the month or last year, but I notice that some of tonight's lineup is interesting movies I've blogged about before. Tonight's schedule seems to be on minority women breaking barriers, co-hosted by Rita Moreno, although I don't recall who appears in the first selection, In This Our Life at 8:00 PM. (I recall the young black man who wants to become a lawyer, but which actress played his mother I'd have to look up.)

At 12:30 AM there's Picadilly. This is a very enjoyable silent featuring Anna May Wong, who certainly was trailblazing, as one of the first successful Asian-American actresses.

That's followed at 2:30 AM by Bright Road, featuring Dorothy Dandridge as a black schoolteacher; there's another woman who was a trailblazer. She was also the first black person to be nominated for an Oscar in the leading (not Supporting) acting categories, when she was nominated for Carmen Jones in 1954).

Finally, something that has nothing to do with trailblazing women but is worth another watch: The Case Against the 20% Federal Admissions Tax on Motion Picture Theatres, which follows Bright Road at about 3:48 AM.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The birthday salute TCM should be running

TCM spent a good portion of this morning showing several of Rita Hayworth's films, as today is the anniversary of her birth in 1918. Interestingly, today happens to be one of those days when there are multiple births of big stars of the studio era. In addition to Hayworth, there's Montgomery Clift and Jean Arthur.

Now to be fair, there are only so many days in a year so it should be unsurprising that some stars would share the same birthday. But I find when I can't think of something to do a post on and look at the people born on this day, I don't come up with three such big names. I didn't even mention the more current people; IMDb's "Most Popular" list of October 17 birthdays only has Hayworth at #7, one spot behind Eminem.

And there are some relatively well-known supporting stars too. From the world of TV there's Tom Poston; from movies there's Spring Byington. But I also note that today is the 99th birthday of the still living Marsha Hunt. Hunt started her career in Hollywood back in the mid-1930s, and had an active career playing supporting roles for the most part until the McCarthy era and the blacklist came along. For whatever reason, she fell afoul of it, and there went her movie career, more or less. I'd love to recommend her role in Kid Glove Killer, where she's the female lead opposite Van Heflin, but it doesn't seem to be on DVD. Anyhow, since she worked at MGM, it would probably be easier for TCM to round up a bunch of her movies for a birthday tribute. Maybe for her centenary next year.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Anyone up for one more piece on Andrzej Wajda

I posted about Radio Poland's retrospective piece on Polish director Andrzej Wajda, who died last Sunday aged 90. However, it turns out that when he was preparing to make Katyn, he did an interview with Radio Slovakia, and Radio Slovakia International's English Section ran that on their program on Thursday. The interview is in translation, since Wajda gave it in Polish; I have no idea what if any other languages he spoke.

Unfortunately, Radio Slovakia only has full-length programs available for downloading or listening live, not individual features within the programs. Thursday's program is available for listening live here; I don't know how long their programs are available for listening. If you want to download and listen to the whole program at your convience, you'd click on the Stiahnuť audio súbor link below the media player. That's a ~12.8 MB MP3 file running just about 27 minutes; the Wajda interview comes third after the news and a memorial to the country's recently-deceased first president. (Slovakia, you may recall, only became an independent country in 1993.)

And if you're interested in listening to them on a regular basis, they have an RSS feed for their program here and more information about other ways to listen here.

A Page of Madness

This week's Silent Sunday Nights movie is also a TCM Import, although there's going to be a real Import following: A Page of Madness, tonight at midnight.

This one is really hard to rate. The movie contains a lot of images that are a bit jarring, until we learn that we're watching a mental institution. One of the women has a husband who is working at the institution as a janitor. And the two of them have a daughter who wants to get married. It turns out that the man is working there because he's trying to get his wife out of the institution. But does she really want to leave?

It's a hard movie to follow, in part because of the subject matter; I get the impression that the director wanted audiences to feel a bit uncomfortable and confused watching. But the bigger problem is that this is a Japanese silent movie. The tradition in Japan, as I mentioned earlier this year, was to have somebody called a benshi explaining what was going on up on screen. A benshi, presumably, would be explaining things that in western silent films would have been explained by intertitles, and explaining them while the action was going on up on the screen. And indeed, A Page of Madness is lacking in intertitles. With a benshi around, it would probably be less difficult to figure out what's going on in this movie. But as is, it's a very frustrating watch.

It probably doesn't help either that the movie was considered lost for decades and was only found again in the early 1970s, and is thought to have some material missing. I don't know how much any missing material (other than that benshi) would have helped explain the plot, however. Watch and judge for yourself.

As far as I can tell, A Page of Madness hasn't received a DVD release, so you'll have to catch the TCM showing.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

RFD Greenwich Village

TCM is running the short RFD Greenwich Village as part of its TCM Underground slot, sometime between 5:15 AM and 6:00 AM. TCM lists two shorts and has both beginning at 5:15 AM, so as is often the case when they run blocks of shorts, who knows what time the short you want is going to begin?

The short is listed as an advertisement for corduroy clothing; I still haven't watched it. I remember having corduroy pants growing up, but never wore corduroy jackets, thankfully. A couple of people have put the short up on Youtube; I didn't watch all of them to see which one is the best quality:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pierre Étaix, 1928-2016

French clown and sometimes actor Pierre Étaix has died at the age of 87. He didn't make too many feature films, and the ones he did make got held up in rights limbo for decades until a few years ago.

Of the films Étaix made, I've only seen the feature Yoyo, and the short Heureux anniversaire. Late last month as part of the monthlong TCM Spotlight on slapstick, they ran his later movie Le Grand Amour. I DVRed that but haven't gotten around to watching it yet.

I hope TCM can get one of his movies for an Imports slot to do a tribute to him.

For the Bowery Boys fans

I've mentioned several times how TCM has been running Bowery Boys movies in the Saturday just before noon time slot. Well, this week, things are a bit different. TCM is showing The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters at 10:45 AM tomorrow. But Friday night's prime time lineup is comic horror, in line with the October theme of lots of horror. So in fact we get six Bowery Boys movies with horror overtones.

Well, technically I think only four of them are the Bowery Boys. The first two, Spooks Run Wild at 4:30 AM and Ghosts on the Loose at 5:45 AM, are from before the Bowery Boys were called the Bowery Boys; I think they were still the East Side Kids at the time. Not that they were kids either by this point, but that's another story too.

Anyhow, I don't think I've seen any of these six movies, so I can't do a full-length post on any of them. I still have more stuff I've watched from the DVR that I should comment on.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Racing shorts

The programming theme on TCM tomorrow morning and afternoon is automobile racing. Somebody had the good sense to program shorts about racing, too, although none of them involve automobile racing. (To be fair, one does involve motorized bikes.)

First up, at about 7:15 AM, will be the 1935 short Crew Racing. With a date and a title like that, my first instinct was that it's a Pete Smith short, and sure enough, that turns out to be the case. Having said that, the full title according to IMDb has it as A Sports Parade Subject: Crew Racing. That makes it sound a bit more serious than a lot of the Pete Smith shorts, although I think the earlier shorts actually did cover more serious (or real-world, at least) subjects. It's just that they had Pete Smith's commentary.

Next up is Dirt Track Racing, at 12:34 PM. This one is dated 1957, which immediately made me think "RKO Sportscope". Once again, I was right. I don't think I've seen this one, which according to IMDb's information was filmed in Austria and looks at dirt bike racing over there.

Finally, at about 4:19 PM tomorrow is Grandad of Races. I could swear I blogged about this, but perhaps it's the spelling of "Grandad" throwing off my searches. This one is about a horse race in a city square in Siena, Italy, a race which apparently was a tradition. Actually, it still is being held twice every year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The news from Poland

I mentioned a couple of days ago about the death of Polish film director Andrzej Wajda at the age of 90. In Monday's edition of Radio Poland's English Service, they did a piece on Wajda, and that piece is available as an individual sound file here. It's a 5.7MB MP3, so it's about six minutes in length.

In trying to find that particular MP3, I came across the following story on Radio Poland's website:

Retrospective of Poland’s Kieślowski in New York

The Museum of the Moving Image in New York is holding a complete retrospective of movies by famous Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski.

According to the Radio Poland story, the retrospective is running now through November 6. The Museum of the Moving Image has more information here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Some things I haven't seen before

I didn't notice it until yesterday evening when I was looking at the TCM schedule for the upcoming week, but Honeysuckle Rose is coming up on the schedule at 4:00 PM today. Willie Nelson stars in this movie, which apparently introduced his song "On the Road Again". At least, the song was nominated for an Oscar, which implies that it had to have been written directly for the movie. Ever since I found out the song was nominated, I've wanted to see the movie, and I think this is the first time I've seen it on the TCM schedule.

TCM's "Trailblazing Women" spotlight looks at the contributions various actresses made during World War II, although it's probably more accurate to say that it's putting the spotlight on those actresses, since not all of the movies are World War II-themed. Hollywood Canteen (8:00 PM) certainly is (the Canteen was, as I understand it, co-founded by John Garfield and Bette Davis), but the 1935 movie Princess Tam Tam (overnight at 2:30 AM) clearly isn't. Josephine Baker is the woman being highlighted there, and she certainly deserves more attention, although this is a movie I still haven't gotten around to seeing.

In between all this, TCM is running the World War II-era short I Am an American around 7:40 PM. This one looks at the contributions immigrants have made to American war efforts, specifically by looking at one composite immigrant family that came to the US in the mid 1800s and served in every war up to World War II.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies

A movie that's been showing up on FXM Retro since about August is Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies. It's on FXM Retro again, at 1:30 PM Tuesday (October 11) and 7:30 AM Wednesday.

Cliff Robertson plays "Ace" Eli Walford, who at the beginning of the movie is taking his wife Wilma on a flight over rural Kansas. It's the 1920s, and Eli is a pilot flying his own biplane. Watching from the ground is their son Rodger (Eric Shea). Unfortunately, the planes of those days were not as reliable as the airplanes of today, and eventually the plane suffers a mechanical problem from which Eli is not able to recover, being forced to crash-land it. The crash kills poor Wilma, but Eli survives.

Eli wants to fly again and get out of this God-forsaken place, so he builds another plane and decides he's going to become a barnstormer. This being the 1920s, there were probably a lot of people in small-town Kansas who hadn't even seen a plane up close before. Certainly they wouldn't have been very likely to have taken a flight themselves. Eli thinks he can make a killing charging people to take them up in the air and give them the thrill of a lifetime. And a lot of people seem willing to pay for the privilege.

In the first twon Eli and Rodger stop in, a party is held in their honor, which is where they meet Shelby (Pamela Franklin). She's a flapper who even drives her own car, and she falls in love with Eli, and takes an interest in the welfare of Rodger, somewhere between that of a big sister and a mother. But then Eli and Rodger move on, and they meet Allison (Bernadette Peters), a prostitute in a bordello. Meanwhile, Shelby has decided to follow the father and son around in her car.

And that's about all there is to the movie. It's one that I have a lot of problems with. First off is Cliff Robertson. He's a capable actor, but here, he's playing Eli in much the same way he had played JW Coop a few years earlier. Eli is a character who needs to be handled a little more lightly, I think. Eli is also a huge jerk at times, especially to Rodger. Rodger gives back as good as he gets, however, and this relationship comes across as creepy at times. Rodger is clearly supposed to be a humorously precocious kid, but that falls flat as too often Rodger is just a blowhard you want to slap. The movie as a whole ends up not really going anywhere, being almost as aimless as the lead character, which is also a problem. And finally, there's the score. I tend not to notice the score so much, and when I do, that's a sign that it's either really good, or really bad. In this case, it's the latter. Jerry Goldsmith's score is a bit too modern and bland, but even worse is the 1970s theme song, which is totally out of place with the opening action.

Steven Spielberg wrote the story, but I don't know how much of his original story was preserved between what he wrote and what ended up on screen. With the way Cliff Robertson's character comes across, I think the problem is less with his writing, and more with the direction.

There are some positive points in the production design which I think nicely captures the 1920s, and Pamela Franklin acquits herself fairly well. But overall, I don't think Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies succeeds at what it sets out to do. Having said that, watch and judge for yourself.

I don't think Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies is available on DVD at all, so you're going to have to catch the FXM Retro showings.

Andrzej Wajda, 1926-2016

The death has been announced of the veteran Polish director Andrzej Wajda, who died on Sunday at the age of 90.

Wajda came to prominence in the 1950s and had to hoe a difficult road, trying to maintain artistic freedom under a Communist regime that obviously had other ideas. (I know about the thaw in the Khrushchev era of the Soviet Union, but I don't know quite as much about how it affected the rest of the states in eastern Europe. East Germany and Hungary had revolts that were brutally put down; Poland had a revolt that was apparently softer.) Wajda remained in Poland working there, with his international prestige apparently leading to a modicum of protection.

Wajda was able to work after the collapse of Communism in 1989, and indeed worked right up until the end of his life, with his final film being shown at the recent Gdynia Film Festival.

I don't know if TCM will get to run anything in the Imports slot in his memory.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Andromeda Strain

Another movie I finally got around to watching off my DVR is The Andromeda Strain. It's in print on DVD and Blu-ray, so I'm comfortable doing a full-length post on it even if it's not coming up on TV any time soon.

The movie starts off with a couple of Army guys being sent to a remote village in New Mexico to retrieve a satellite that's crash-landed back on Earth. As they approach the village, they get the distinct impression the village is eerily silent. Indeed, they find dead bodies on the ground, as though people just suddenly dropped dead where they stood. And unsurprisingly, they wind up dying themselves! Scary.

So the military calls in a team of medical experts they've got on retainer: Drs. Stone (Arthur Hill), Dutton (David Wayne), Hall (James Olson), and Leavitt (Kate Reid). They're all university research scientists at various prestigious universities, but the government needs them now, never mind what they'd rather be doing in life. The government agents impress upon them the need to come with them, and they're taken to an out-of-the-way facility in Nevada.

Looking like an agricultural research station, the facility is actually a cover for "Project Wildfire", which is actually housed in a deep underground facility beneath the cover. Wildfire is investigating the possibility of extraterrestrial biological threats to humanity, and it looks as though they have one now. It's up to the good doctors to figure out what's happened, and just as importantly how to stop it, before it can wip out humanity. Thankfully, there are two people who survived in that New Mexico village, a little baby and an alcoholic with an ulcer.

Our scientists get nice and decontaminated so they can investigate, and although there are some attitude disagreements above them, they generally work well together to try to solve the problem. But it's a really tough nut to crack, and one of them might just be missing something. And there's also the threat that the facility will get contaminated by the organism, necessitating its destruction, and the deaths of all within.

The Andromeda Strain is in some ways a standard-issue medical mystery drama, but it's still a damn good movie that rises above pretty much every other movie in the genre. I think that's in part down to the desire for realism instilled by Michael Crichton (who wrote the original novel) and director Robert Wise. Or, at least as much realism as is possible in a movie dealing with the possibility of an extraterrestrial organism that could destroy humanity. Everything looks terribly dated, but in a good way. It's not the silly "Hollywood looks at the future incorrectly" look you'll get in movies like Soylent Green (as good as such movies can be), but an accurate "these poor scientists had to deal with such primitive conditions" feel. The decontamination scene goes on and on, but that only serves to make us feel more uncomfortable about what the scientists are facing. The computer equipment is rudimentary, and we could all probably do more with our smartphones. But these scientists actually had to use their brains.

The movie is also greatly helped by having an ensemble cast instead of a bunch of stars (see The Swarm). David Wayne is probably the best known, having been a second-tier star at Fox in the 50s. But they work well together, and the scientific lack of egos definitely works to the movie's benefit.

If the movie does have any flaws, it might be the references to the government having done this deliberately -- that's not necessary to advance the plot -- as well as the climactic tension at the end of the movie which seems forced. But overall, The Andromeda Strain is a well-made, gradual movie that slowly builds up the suspense as it becomes one of the better sci-fi movies ever made. It's strongly worth a watch.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bloody Mama

So I got to watch Bloody Mama a few weeks back having recorded it when it showed up on TCM as part of the salute to American International Pictures. It's available from the TCM Shop, so I'm OK with doing a full-length post on the movie.

The movie starts off telling us that any reference to Ma Barker is wholly intentional; that's followed by the four Barker brothers: Herman (Don Stroud), Lloyd (Robert De Niro), Arthur (Clint Kimbrough), and Fred (Robert Walden) chasing after a young woman. Apparently they do something less than gentlemanly to the young woman, because her father shows up with vengeance on his mind. Their mother, "Ma" Barker (Shelley Winters) is tired of life in the middle of nowhere in the Ozarks and would like something better anyway, so she takes the four sons and goes off with them.

But what to do? It's the early days of the depression, and honest work is hard to come by, so they turn to a life of crime! Herman takes up with the prostitute Mona (Diane Varsi), while Fred winds up in prison which is where he meets Kevin (Bruce Dern), who's up for a little prison rape. Fred and Kevin break out of prison, reunite with the rest of the family, and the seven of them (the four boys, Ma, Kevin, and Mona) all start running around the south.

But it's not a particularly happy family. Ma is a bit of a tough taskmaster, and wants to run things her way. When they kidnap a wealthy man (Pat Hingle) for the ransom it will surely bring, Ma thinks that actually letting him go will cause problems, so she instructs her sons to kill the man! More disturbing is that she has an incestuous streak in her, wanting to sleep with her grown sons. It warps all of them in their own way, most notably with Lloyd turning to whatever drugs he can find.

Eventually, of course, Ma Barker was killed by the feds. The movie shows that, although it takes considerable liberties with the rest of the gang. In real life, Herman was already dead before the events of the movie. Only Fred would die in the shootout that also killed Ma; the other two sons and the genesis for the Kevin character all survived. And there's some debate over whether Ma was actually involved in the crime to any extent greater than being an accomplice and protecting her sons.

Still, Bloody Mama is interesting to watch. It's a flawed movie in many ways, thanks in no small part to Winters going way over the top, and the movie veering wildly in how Ma's personality should be portrayed. But all of that makes it entertaining in a low-budget fascinating way. I'm not certain how much money I'd drop on the DVD, but watching it if it shows up on TCM is certainly worth the hour and a half.

Friday, October 7, 2016

A series of obituaries

The conductor Sir Neville Marriner died over the weekend at the age of 92. If you have a classical music radio station in your neck of the woods and listen to it, you've certainly heard the name, as he was a prodigious conductor and did a whole lot of recordings with the ensemble he founded, the Academy of St. Martins' in the Fields. So why am I posting about him here? Well, movie scores need to be played, and when you have a score from a real composer, you need a conductor. There are any number of composers who would conduct the music themselves, and back in Hollywood's golden age, they probably had conductors on the payroll who went from one score to the next. But Marriner worked with Miloš Forman most notably on Amadeus, what with all that Mozart music, as well as Valmont.

Brock Yates died earlier in the week aged 92. He was an automotive reporter and auto racing color commentator. But that knowledge also led to him screenplays, the best known of which would be The Cannonball Run. He also did Smokey and the Bandit II with Hal Needham, which I somehow think isn't a high point in either of their careers.

Finally, cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky died today. He was 104. He fled Vienna in 1935 seeing that the Nazis would come to power there, and settled in England. There he became an acclaimed photographer, which eventually led to his becoming a cinematographer as well. He handled the cinematography on Michael Caine's Get Carter, as well as Ring of Bright Water and a bunch of others.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Briefs for October 6-7, 2016

So I watched the first wraparound for the Guest Programmers last night. It turns out that Jonah Goldberg was with Ben Mankiewicz with only the two of them there. It seems odd to do two Guest Programmers that way. But what do I know. I didn't check to see if Ben kept continuity by wearing the same outfit.

This afternoon, TCM is showing Bon Voyage at 5:00 PM as part of an afternoon of Alfred Hitchcock movies. This is one of a pair of shorts Hitchcock did in French during World War II with French exiles in London. The other one, Aventure Malgache, is not on the schedule.

After the last of the Hitchcock movies (North By Northwest at 5:30 PM), TCM is going to be running a short piece Cary Grant did on the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital, to air around 7:48 PM this evening. I seem to recall some other actors doing promos for the Will Rogers Hospital as part of a charity drive, but I might be getting that mixed up with the Jimmy Fund.

Tomorrow we get a full morning and afternoon of Dr. Kildare films, starring Lew Ayres as the good doctor. Of course, the series had to end after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because of Ayres' pacifist stance, which was a problem when the US had probably its best casus belli for going to war in its history.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A pair of Guest Programmers

With the Presidential race going on here in the US (will it ever end?), TCM decided to call up a pair of political writers and have them select some movies. Those selections will be airing tonight. The two are Jonah Goldberg from the right (if you believe politics only goes from right to left or left to right) and Leon Wieseltier (whom I'd never heard of before) from the left. I haven't been paying close enough attention to TCM to see the bits between the movies, so I haven't seen any promos to see if the two writers were in the studio together (presumably with Ben Mankiewicz) to discuss their selections. I'd hope so, because the selections are alternated, one from Goldberg followed by one from Wieseltier, and so on.

Tonight's lineup:

8:00 PM A Face in the Crowd (selected by Goldberg), a movie that makes sense in the current political climate of treating politicians as celebrities;
10:15 AM America America (Wieseltier). Elia Kazan's movie about immigration; you can imagine why somebody on the left would select this
1:15 AM Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Goldberg). The little guy standing up to the corrupt government could be a theme for anybody of any political stripe, and somehow I have a feeling Jefferson Smith would be horrified at seeing people use him for their own ideologies.
3:30 AM Fury (Weseltier). Weseltier selected this because of its themes of demagoguery; I'd rather use it to point out the dangers of having prosecutors with political ambitions. Although on that point, They Won't Forget might be an even better choice.

I've watched a couple of movies off my DVR recently, and will get around to doing full-length posts on them sometime.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Trailblazing women return to TCM

Last October's TCM Spotlight was on Trailblazing Women, specifically looking at women directors. It was supposed to be the first part of a two-part series, with the second part coming in October of this year. Well, we're in October now, and so the Trailblazing Women spotlight returns.

It'll start before prime time, with a Mary Pickford documentary at 6:00 PM. The film I'm looking forward to tonight is Mothers of Men at 10:00 PM. It's apparently a restoration of a 1921 release of the 1917 movie, since the original 1917 prints are all believed lost. This is one I haven't seen before, so I can't comment on it other than the brief reading up on it I did at IMDb and elsewhere.

From what I gather from the web-site, Ileana Douglas is hosting the whole thing, and tonight's co-host is Cari Beauchamp, who appeared last year, I believe in the early directors nights.

Monday, October 3, 2016

TCM Star of the Month October 2016: Christopher Lee

Surprisingly, The Wicker Man is not on the TCM schedule this month

We're in the first full week of a new month, and as I mentioned yesterday, with it being October there's a lot of opportunity to see horror movies. And so it makes some sense that TCM selected Christopher Lee as the star of the month, since he's so identified with those Hammer horror movies. But he did a fair amount of non-horror work, and TCM will be sampling that as well.

Tonight at 8:00 PM, for example, TCM will be showing the rarely-seen Jinnah, in what is apparently the North American television premiere. Christopher Lee stars as Mohammad Ali Jinnah, a name people in America might not recognize. Everybody knows Gandhi, but when Indians were struggling for their independence from Britain, Jinnah believed that the Muslim minority needed a nation of its own. He eventually got his wish as India was partitioned into India and Pakistan, which at the time consisted of West Pakistan (the country today known as Pakistan) and East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh, having seceded from the West in a bloody civil war. Of course, partition mean huge population migrations, which is probably why Jinnah is such a controversial figure. It's one I'm really looking forward to.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Anybody like Frankenstein?

Everybody's favorite monster, along with actor Colin Clive

Ah, October is here, that month when everybody starts thinking of horror because Halloween is at the end of the month. TCM is starting tonight, with the classic 1931 Frankenstein at 8:00 PM. It's the jumping off point for a dozen Frankenstein movies, airing every Sunday in prime time in October on TCM.

The 1931 version is the one everybody remembers, but of course it's not original in that it's based on the novel by Mary Shelley. That having been said, it's not even the original movie version. Much like there was a two-reel version of Ben-Hur in the first decade of the last century, there was also a two-reel version of Frankenstein about that early. (At least the Frankenstein story was already in the public domain.) That 1910 version of Frankenstein survives and can be seen on Youtube:

Saturday, October 1, 2016

TCM Guest Host October 2016

In yet another sign that Robert Osborne probably won't be coming back as TCM host, there's another guest host for this month. Actor Ron Perlman will be presenting the movies on Fridays and Saturdays this month; today should be the first night he's hosting.

I notice that tonight's prime time lineup starts at 8:00 PM with Two Guys From Milwaukee. I find it hard to believe that this would ever have been selected as an Essential, so the folks at TCM finally decided to scrap it for this year, I'd guess. I have no idea if it will be coming back next March, and if so, who will be hosting it. I'd guess Ben Mankiewicz and... somebody, but don't know who he'd guest host it with. Sally Field?