Thursday, February 04, 2010

TCM Alerts: What the Siren Wants to Watch This Month



TCM moves away from Shadows of Russia (I know, I get that post-Christmas-letdown feeling about it too) and into 31 Days of Oscar, not usually my favorite month at the channel because I have seen so much already. However, I have been scanning the lineup and found some gems that aren't on home video. I don't often do "TCM Alerts" but some of these are films we've mentioned or yearned for, so here's the list. All times are EST.

Tonight:
2/4: 8 pm The Uninvited. Splendid Old Dark House movie with Ray Milland.



10 pm Kitty Sparkling historical comedy-romance, via Mitchell Leisen, beloved of both the Siren and many commenters here. The Siren has seen this one and it is well worth catching; it also has Ray Milland and one of Paulette Goddard's best performances.

2/5: 6:15 am Address Unknown (dir. William Cameron Menzies) The Siren is very excited about this one. The superbly suspenseful epistolary novella Adressat Unbekannt (1938) kept her awake all night when she read it in high school, and until recently the Siren was unaware it had ever been filmed. William Cameron Menzies is one of Hollywood's unsung geniuses and a primary reason Gone with the Wind looks as beautiful as it does. Pounce.



2/12: 8:45 am Woman of Affairs. Greta Garbo in the bowdlerized, but still scandalous, film version of The Green Hat. Via Clarence Brown, who is cool again, for those keeping score at home.

10:30 am Our Dancing Daughters The summit of Joan Crawford's flapper period.

2/14: 2 pm: The Devil and Miss Jones Wonderful Sam Wood comedy with an unusual labor vs management theme.

2/16: 6:30 pm The Racket (1928) Rarely show mob-themed silent via Lewis Milestone.

2/17 Noon: The War Against Mrs Hadley A rare leading role for the fabulous Fay Bainter. Don't know much about this one but I am intrigued.

2/18 6 am: Pacific Liner Victor McLaghlen starrer about a shipboard epidemic.

8:45 am Five Star Final Pre-Code newspaper drama starring the always-brilliant Edward G. Robinson, directed by Mervyn Le Roy.

2/21 2:30 am The Solid Gold Cadillac. My favorite Judy Holliday movie, and more timely than ever. Not on DVD.

2/22 8 pm Five Graves to Cairo. Billy Wilder's Rommel thriller, also not on DVD.

2/26 3 am Seconds. Incredibly suspenseful sci-fi with Rock Hudson's best performance and an ending that will stick with you forever. I often wonder why this one hasn't been remade, but I am glad it hasn't.



2/28 5:15 am Smilin' Through (1932). Our own Leslie Howard, fresh from being declared Cool Once More by the Siren readership, together with Norma Shearer in a romance that is shown about as often as Albany gets its budget done on time.



Tomorrow I am posting the lineup so far of For the Love of Film, the blogathon that Marilyn Ferdinand and I are hosting to raise money for the National Film Preservation Foundation. If you haven't committed over at Facebook, please drop me a line or post a comment so I will be sure to include you. And if you aren't a Facebook fan, run over and become one; I am happy to say we have more than 600 fans, but we want to keep 'em coming!

UPDATE: The updated Blogathon list may go up Saturday because the Siren has been called into work early, on account of the coming Snowpocalypse. Figures.

31 comments:

steve simels said...

A Menzies I haven't seen? Thanks for the headsup...

What would we do without TCM...
:-)

Flickhead said...

Seconds came out about ten years after The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, bookending the first wave of post-WWII corporate America. Soon after, most marriages would fall apart and the kids would be off smoking boo in the Hashbury. Meanwhile, Salome Jens was Rock's hired concubine in Seconds. (Wesley Addy was his major domo.) Her voice always freaks me out. In a good way. Rock's drunk scene always freaked me out, period. Plus all that grape stomping. What a deranged film!

DavidEhrenstein said...

Seconds was Will Geer's big comeback role after being blacklisted for years. Rock was very proud of this movie and devestated that it wasn't a hit. It's one of Frankenheimer's best films and stand as proof positive that Rock could be as subtle as all get-out with the right role.

Flickhead said...

Don't get me wrong: I love Seconds. (James Wong Howe's work on that is worth a post of its own.) I see a smiliarity between the film and Rock's reasons for making it, with Tyrone Power and Nightmare Alley.

DavidEhrenstein said...

That's a very good comparasion.

Smilin' Through is a teriffic example of the kind of roamntic blue plate psecial they not only don't make anymore but we no longer have the cotext to comprehend. Norma is great in it and it shows just why she was such a big star.

steve simels said...

I love Seconds. One of the film's secret weapons: a devastating score by the great Jerry Goldsmith. One of his best, in fact.

Interesting trivia note: when the movie first played theatrically, Brian Wilson -- then doing probably better drugs than any of us have ever had (this was during the Smile period) -- became convinced that the film's opening line -- "Good morning, Mr. Wilson" -- was meant specifically for him. And that Phil Spector might have had something to do with getting it into the movie.

Greg said...

A Woman of Affairs is the movie I used in the For the Love of Film commercial. A good omen. I will update the movie preservation blog with the schedule once you put it up here.

And hopefully, a day or two before the fourteenth, upload another commercial if I can get to work on it in time.

Exiled in NJ said...

Seconds, what a depressing film! I'm not being negative, but when friends comment about how many films of the 70' were downers, I ask, 'Have you seen Seconds?'

That first scene, after Saul Bass' credits play over Goldsmith's score, from high above Grand Central Station is Harry Lime's Ferris wheel vision come true, the little ants scurrying about. And give some credit to John Randolph.

The scene where Hudson goes back home is chilling.

Yet, as one person on IMDB commented, there is no middle. It's as if Frankenheimer had the beginning and end in mind, but when it came to the in-between, more or less winged in scenes from every day life to show how banal it all was.

The Siren said...

I can see why Hudson was so heartbroken over the film's failure, because it is such a fantastic piece of work from all concerned. On the other hand, even in the 1970s, as Exiled points out that movie was bleak beyond words.

I am intrigued by Flickhead's comment and envisioning a Man in the Gray Flannel/Seconds double feature.

Eurappeal said...

I watched Five Graves to Cairo last month (after DVR'ing it off TCM earlier). Loved Von Stroheim, of course, and was surprised at how much I liked Anne Baxter. One silly thing struck me: Von Stroheim said "Moses" like "Moooooooses" which sounds exactly like the way Baxter says it in 10 Commandments. Her elongated "Mooooooses" to Charlton Heston has always cracked me up.

Anyway, back to the movie, I've always liked Franchot Tone, and I think he's good here, but I couldn't stop wondering whether someone like James Cagney or Gary Cooper would've been better.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Tone is quite fascinating. I first became acquainted with him at the very end of his career -- Mickey One.

As I believe I mentioned TCM ran Arzner's The Bride Wore Red recently and he and Joan are excellent in it.

MrJeffery said...

I've seen none of these. Seconds sounds fascinating though!

The Siren said...

Tone is quietly excellent in almost everything he did, even when the film is less than brilliant. But he lacked that extra charisma that makes a great star. That is, at least onscreen. Offscreen he apparently had appeal to burn, as both Davis and Crawford could attest.

The Derelict said...

I scheduled Address Unknown and Kitty on my DVR earlier this week, so I'm excited that they get the Siren seal of approval! I'm gonna have to schedule Seconds now too -- I want to see just how depressing this movie is, based on all these comments! ;)

For some reason I can't warm to The Uninvited. I recorded it to DVD a while back and only watched it once. I guess it's creepy in parts (and the house is awesome!), but for some reason the climax didn't work for me and the tone seemed wildly uneven.

Salty Dog said...

One of the interesting things about Seconds that I have not heard mentioned before is the parallel between the presences of a number of formerly blacklisted actors (not only Will Geer, but John Randolph and Jeff Corey, and maybe others), and the twist in the plot late in the film (possible spoilers!) where once the trap Hudson has fallen into is revealed to him, he finds the only way to escape is to "name names" of prospective clients. It struck me pretty forcefully when I saw the film in the 70's.

Bill

Kendra said...

I'd be interested in participating in the blogathon! What do I have to do?

Kendra
blog.vivandlarry.com

Yojimboen said...

Frankenheimer set up a bikini demonstration stand in Grand Central, so no one would pay attention to James Wong Howe in a wheelchair getting the opening tracking shots. And no one did.
Here’s Saul Bass’s title sequence
(spine chill by Jerry Goldsmith).

Vanwall said...

"Seconds" had such an awesome score, yes, indeed - Goldsmith's second venture into science fiction after the fantastic "The Satan Bug", a great pair of early successes. Yeah, I had most of those on your list already set, Siren, and will enjoy every moment of them, "The Devil and Miss Jones" and "Five Graves to Cairo" being paramount for me. And a Bob Cummings sighting, too! Hehe!

The Siren said...

Kendra, anyone can contribute! Just drop a line to me or Marilyn and tell us what you're planning. But you really don't even have to do that; you can just post during the week of Feb. 14 to the 21st, remember to ask people to donate, and drop us a line then. We will be providing a link to the NFPF website.

DavidEhrenstein said...

The Uninvited has an awesome scroe too. "Stella By Starlight" is a classic. Gorgeous in the original film and teriffic in the les Brown swing arrangement Jerry Lewis used for The Nutty Professor in hommage to his babe-a-licious co-star Stella Stevens.

J.C. Loophole said...

Siren-
You can count on me for a post for the blog-a-thon - any particulars I need to be aware of?

X. Trapnel said...

The score to The Uninvited is indeed terrific, one of Victor Young's best. But the one for Love Letters is even better, though I can't find a decent vocal of the song extracted from it. Maureen O'Hara (!) recorded it but her singing is, shall we say, untrained. At least to my ears. Great cover photo though.

Chris said...

Siren, thanks ever so for the head's up on "Kitty." Although I like Goddard just fine, I probably would have passed it by without your endorsement. What a surprising delight! Smart and sexy and adult. I'm pretty sure I sat for the duration with a big grin on my face. ("Love a duck! Me beads!") And among the many kudos to go around on this one, a special salute to the costumer.

I saw "Seconds" while I was in high school and have never forgotten it.

Yojimboen said...

X., this was the British LP cover IIRC. You had to buy Yvonne De to get the smokin’ Maureen O’.

The Siren said...

JC, The topic is anything related to film preservation. It could be anything; a restored film, one you'd like to see restored, an issue in restoration, What Restoration Means to Me, What I Restored on my Summer Vacation -- creativity encouraged.

J.C. Loophole said...

Sounds good Siren. Go ahead and add me to the list. I will be contributing a post about how vital the restoring of film is to the restoring of both art and artist, performance and performer to our cultural lexicon. And how it can lead to the creation of a new generation of enthusiasts and fans. Title for now is "Restoring Film, Preserving Art and Curating Culture."

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Regarding the blogathon, I think I've settled on "Vertigo."

gmoke said...

On Preservation

We are nothing
without history.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Everyone should try to catch "Five Star Final," even at that unfortunate hour. Robinson is swell, of course, supported by Aline McMahon, George E. Stone and especially Boris Karloff. If you only know his horror work, this is a revelation.

steve simels said...

The premiere of the restored METROPOLIS will be streamed today in the afternoon.

Details over at Ebert's blog

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100211/COMMENTARY/100219992

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