I do wish I could recall upon whose blog I discovered this concept, but I liked it: Work Wednesday, where I can share with you what’s going on. As I have time, I’ll combine it with some sort of “What Looks Great on TCM This Week” Wednesday. For one thing, doing this on a Wednesday gives you time to plan your DVR watching for the weekend if you want a stay-at-home night. Sound good? I’m going to be cruel, though, and intersperse stuff. 😉 I’ll link to a trailer or clip of the movies I most highly recommend; if the title is bolded, it means if you were here, I’d force you to sit on the sofa with a cup of tea or a cocktail and watch the whole thing. Forcible classic movie-watching! The terror!
This photo of a (possibly abandoned) filling station in San Jon, New Mexico—a bit of a Route 66 ghost town—is still getting a fair number of hits. I am happy with it, of course, but sometimes I wonder what it is that makes one of my photos popular compared to others! Of course, if I knew that, I could sell the info, right?
Part of the attraction must be the contrast between the beautiful spring sky and the weatherbeaten old filling station. Several Routies told me they skipped right by San Jon—if you’re travelling the Mother Road, don’t! It’s worth visiting. At any rate, this photo isn’t in the shop yet, but if you are interested, I have a print or two in the studio; as with any of my photography seen here on the blog, if you are interested, definitely contact me. My email is on the sidebar and my “about” page.
Now, over at TCM, Summer Under The Stars 2012 is still going on for two and a half more days; tomorrow’s star is Warren William. A star of the 1930s, I’m not terribly familiar with him, though I have seen TCM’s prime-time feature at 8PM EST, “Lady For A Day” (1933), which also stars May Robson. It’s a really marvellous little movie that few can fail to be charmed by, and I recommend it highly. “The Mouthpiece” (1932) runs at 9:45 AM; Bette Davis stars with Joan Blondell in “Three on a Match” (1932) at 1PM; of course there’s “Cleopatra” ’34—also starring Claudette Colbert—look good as well, and I don’t think I’ve seen any of them!
Friday is, fittingly, the last day for Summer Under The Stars, and features James Caan, a newbie to the annual August party. He’s an interesting choice, really, for TCM, and I’m not sure what the reception will be like—nothing against Mr. Caan, of course, but he’s definitely a youngun’ compared to, oh, Kay Francis or Leslie Howard, and the perspective of the movies is so very different from Golden Age films.
What surprises me is seeing Caan—a tough guy—in several comedies. The prime-time feature is “Rollerball” ’75, but horror movies are not my thing. “Hide In Plain Sight” at 10:15PM sounds interesting; that’s really all I can find, though. What can I say? I like earlier stuff for the most part, with all due apologies to Mr. Caan.
The photo here, Empty Row, was taken on a lonely stretch of New Mexico (the furthest West I’ve ever been up to that point!). Despite some digging around in my 66 books, I’ve not yet identified it, but the place fascinated me. The old motor court has style, don’t you think? It’s certainly Western, nothing you’d see back East.
It must have bustled once, but now it’s silent but for the occasional jackrabbit darting out in front of you and the birds in the brush; the old garage bays, so neatly framed along the top, are now filled with detritus large and small, and the same goes for the rooms themselves. I even came upon a great vintage Pepsi cooler in one of them. Of course I’d have loved to get even closer to things, but I’m sure the grass was full of bugs (having already picked up two ticks on the trip, I wasn’t interested in more, thank you) and possibly, as my husband constantly warned me, rattlesnakes. A wonderful place to visit nonetheless, though. There’s a magic about old motor courts, no matter how old or run down they happen to be—and especially when they’re on the Mother Road.
Saturday’s interesting movies include (let’s try a new format, shall we?)
- 7:45AM “The Black Cat” ’34 Starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Yes, a horror movie. Laugh. I know. But it’s OLDER. Not so much gore as there is nowadays. (It is unrelated to the Edgar Allen Poe story, by the way.)
- 1:30PM “Fail Safe” ’64
- 8PM “The Band Wagon” ’53 Actually, everything after 8 looks wonderful! “Band Wagon” is followed by “The Barkleys of Broadway” ’49 (the last movie featuring the Rogers-Astaire pairing, IIRC).
Sunday looks like a very good movie-viewing day. Shall we pray for rain?
- 6AM “Night Must Fall” ’37 Suspense, starring Ros Russell. Sounds interesting.
- 8AM “Love Affair” ’39 I adore Irene Dunne, who stars with Maria Ouspenskaya, Joan Leslie, and Charles Boyer in this cruise-themed romantic comedy.
- 11:30AM “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” ’39 Robert Donat won an Oscar for this film, in which he stars with the gorgeous Greer Garson, who could not have picked a better script for her debut. No remakes have ever come close to matching the original. Have your tissues ready. Possibly among the finest scripts to come out of Hollywood—it’s just so real.
- 1:30PM “The Black Stallion” ’79 Need I say a word? Gorgeously photographed and, of course, a classic tale that will have your heart swelling with joy at the end unless you’re dead or something like that. Ah, the power of the horse and the hopes we tie to them.
- 3:45PM “The Sting” ’73 Just look at when it takes place and that’s all you need to know about how it made it onto my list. 😉
- 6PM “Strangers On A Train” ’51 One of Hitchock’s best thrillers! This one drew me in right from the start. Great photography, too.
- 11:30PM “Mad Love” ’35 At 8, TCM is screening “Hands of a Stranger”, which sounds like a remake—likely inferior—to this 1935 semi-horror film (it’s more psychological) starring Peter Lorre. It’s creepy and fascinating.
Monday has a weird mix, but believe me, I’ll take it!
- 6AM “Greed” ’24 ZaSu Pitts stars in this movie about a farm wife’s dangerous obsession with wealth. The film originally ran eight hours; this one is still roughly four, but it is among one of the most acclaimed silents ever made. I’ve never seen it and would much like to. Set that DVR and then sit down with some embroidery and “Greed” later in the week, I think.
- 5:45PM “Black Narcissus” ’47 Stunning, gripping film starring Deborah Kerr as one of several nuns attempting to run a convent and mission in the Himalayas. I will never, ever forget the first time I saw this movie several years ago—it caught me in its web almost immediately. It is beautiful, too—”Black Narcissus” is considered the best British Technicolor film. Also starring Sabu, Flora Robson, and a very young and dangerous Jean Simmons, this one is a must-see. MUST-SEE. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
- 8PM “The Palm Beach Story” ’42 After the drama and tension of “Black Narcissus”, you will appreciate a laugh, and this film with Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor, Joel McCrea, Sig Arno, and Rudy Valee ought to do the trick. Really, any movie starring Colbert OR Astor is worth a viewing, so that must make this a great one!
Tuesday is yet another day of very good films to pick from and/or gorge yourself on.
- 6:15AM “Seven Miles From Alcatraz” ’42 About men who escape from the prison and find themselves hiding in a lighthouse also being used by Nazi spies, this one just sounds interesting.
- 10:30AM “Murder, My Sweet” ’44 Dick Powell plays detective Philip Marlowe in this one, and he has Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley to deal with as well as crime. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but it’s very good.
- 8PM “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” ’48 Cary Grant! Myrna Loy! Melvyn Douglas! New York! A beautiful house…that needs a major makeover! “The Money Pit” and “Funny Farm” surely got their inspiration from this one, and funny as those two remodeling movies are, it’s hard to top the cast alone in this classic. It’s my pick for the night.
- 10PM “High Society” ’56 Grace Kelly’s final movie is worth watching for the costumery alone.
- 2AM “Gunga Din” ’39 From the greatest year Hollywood ever had comes this classic—a movie brimming over with action, adventure, comedy, romance, gallantry, heroism, and real heart. You’ll probably swoon over Cary Grant and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. at the start, but the ending may just tear your heart a bit. Fantastic movie, and if you are up late…watch it. It’s my other pick of the day.
Finally, Wednesday—it’s a day of suspense! September’s Star of the Month is Lauren Bacall, so from 8PM onward all of the movies feature Bacall; a few of the earlier ones do as well.
- 12PM “The High Wall” ’47 Confession: I find later Robert Taylor films to be unbearable, mostly because he and his monotone, stentorian yelling are in them as well. His earlier movies—there is a good thriller where he tries to kill his wife, played by Liz Taylor, and of course “Camille” with Garbo—I can handle, but he got older and just started yelling at all of us. Even so, this film starring Taylor as a man who thinks he murdered his wife sounds very interesting…and maybe, just maybe, Taylor isn’t in Roman mode yet.
- 2PM “Suddenly, Last Summer” ’59 The cast alone—Katharine Hepburn, Monty Clift, Liz Taylor—piques my interest.
- 4PM “The Snake Pit” ’48 Another doozy, this one starring one of my favourite actresses, Olivia de Havilland, as a woman dealing with a mental breakdown; she ends up in a mental hospital. Some of the things that go on there seem absolutely barbaric to us these days. Highly recommended, for Olivia’s performance alone.
- 8PM “To Have And Have Not” ’44 Bogey, Bacall, Brennan, Carmichael, Moran, Leonard with dialogue written by William Faulkner. About the French resistance and a skipper-for-hire who does or does not have any patriotism left. Haven’t seen it in ages!
- 10PM “The Big Sleep” ’46 I think this one is a bit superior to the former. Bogey and Bacall are back in another Philip Marlowe movie—this one involving a tawdry murder indeed. Directed by Howard Hawks, it also stars Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone, and John Ridgely.
- 12AM “Dark Passage” ’47 Bogey, Bacall, and Agnes Moorehead star in what TCM calls a “far-fetched” tale that still sounds engrossing—a man gets plastic surgery after escaping prison, hoping he can afterward find the man who murdered his wife.
- 2AM “Key Largo” ’48 Terrific, terrific movie. Bogey! Bacall! Edward G. Robinson! Lionel Barrymore! Claire Trevor! Great cast, great story, don’t miss it if you’ve never seen it.
Whew! Well, that’s the week for you. Hope you find this helpful and enjoy a few of the movies. What do you think of this feature? Good idea? Crazy idea? Please let me know!