TCM Top Five & Work Wednesday

Endangered Pony Bridge, Oklahoma Route 66. Photo Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Pony Bridge on Route 66 in Oklahoma. Built in 1936, it is actually now endangered, slated to be destroyed for some ugly modern thing. ūüė¶

I’d been in the middle of putting this post together Monday when I flipped on the news to see what had happened in Oklahoma, so you probably can understand my uncertainty about posting this. Nor was I sure whether or not putting this up would seem disrespectful. But my girlfriend in Nashville, who writes the Stuff Heard On The Bus¬†blog, suggested that this might be a good distraction and relief for those of us overwhelmed and heartsore because of the coverage. So here it is. All of the photos here are from Oklahoma, too. It is just one of the finest states in the nation.

That said, the people of Oklahoma¬†desperately¬†need our help. They’re strong folks, some of the best in America, and as I said to an Okie the other night, Oklahomans give real meaning to “the heartland of America”‚ÄĒ they’re genial, generous, and courageous, even in the face of horrors such as the tornado. They are our HEARTland, in every sense of the word. So please, please‚ÄĒI know the economy is horrid right now and that we’re all strapped, but even a few dollars will go a long way.

Please Donate to Oklahoma Tornado Relief Here (Salvation Army)

News 9 Oklahoma is accepting donations as well, click or text FOOD to 32333 to donate $10

Brandi, a native Oklahoman, also has a good list of ways you can help Sooners¬†affected by the tornado; a couple of jewelry artists have beautiful work and I think I may be picking one of these up for myself. And I will be happy to donate 50% of each sale between now and June 20 to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts, and 100% of each Oklahoma-related photo from my shop. Keep in mind, I’ve a LOT of photos of Oklahoma from my Route 66 trip; if it isn’t in my shop but you’ve seen it on (the new, uglier) Flickr and would like a copy, please send me an email (Jen *at* LibertyImagesPhotography.com) and I’ll order what you like. Please just understand that special orders will take about 14 days from order to your receipt (I do not drop-ship, but inspect, sign & send a COA with each photo, as they’re all limited-edition), especially when there’s a great amount of demand, but I’ll hustle things out the door for you as quickly as I can! Recently purchased software allows me to sell some large photos, too‚ÄĒI sent out a 20×30 of a Thunderbird back in April and it was…well, I was pleased with it. So now is a great time to pick up a limited-edition photo from my shop and do a lot of good, too!

The Entire Primetime Lineup‚ÄĒSpotlight On Harold Lloyd
Beginning at 8PM Thursday, May 23

TCM makes one pick (multiple picks, really) very easy, because tomorrow night it’s all Harold Lloyd, all the time (okay, ’til 6AM Friday morning), beginning with Safety Last!¬†(1923) at 8PM.

Vintage Packard taillight. Afton Station, Oklahoma, Route 66. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

At Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma.

Now, yes, these are all silent films, and I know silents can be a hard sell‚ÄĒeven Robert Osborne has noted he’s not their biggest fan. And on one hand, I understand: for one thing, most of us are forced to multitask, and tend to work and half-listen, half-watch movies and television programs. Silent films require almost full attention (though this makes them good viewing if you’re working on embroidery or knitting or something of that nature) even with their sometimes slow storytelling.

But these are silent comedies, for the most part, and Harold Lloyd comedies at that. It’s difficult to get my husband to watch silent films, but he enjoys Buster Keaton films and the bits of Lloyd films we’ve seen; I think this is a good way to introduce someone to silent films and how they work, especially considering the, ah, adventurous nature of Lloyd’s famous stunts. These are made all the more impressive and thrilling when the viewer learns Lloyd was missing the thumb and index finger of his right hand, thanks to a prop explosion in 1919. Hanging from girders and clocks and grabbing onto moving trains was quite a feat if you ask me, though Lloyd doesn’t seem to have said much about it.

Safety Last!¬†is probably one of Lloyd’s most famed films, thanks to the iconic image of the bespectacled-and-behatted Lloyd clinging to the hands of a clock, far above the city streets. TCM follows this up with quite a few shorts, then funny college football flick¬†The Freshman¬†(1925) at 11PM, more shorts, and wussy-boy-has-to-prove-himself Cinderella-ish story¬†The Kid Brother¬†(1927) at 1:45AM. No¬†Speedy, but this is a fine linup indeed!

Listen, I can’t just pick one, and I’ve also not seen many of the shorts; Lloyd, unlike Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, didn’t want his films released for television (TCM not coming into existence during his lifetime), and his shorts didn’t get much play either. Therefore his work is not as well-known as that of the others, and silents are, again, often a hard sell. But if you want to see one of the biggest movie stars, and one of the best comedians, try and catch a few of the shorts and at least one of the delightful Lloyd features. They’re real gems of American moviemaking, and Lloyd is a much-underrated and unknown talent. A wink & a smile to TCM for dedicating an entire prime-time evening and beyond to him!

Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Also worth watching Thursday: Coquette (1929, 7AM), drama about a Southern, well, coquette and class distinctinons starring Mary Pickford.

On Friday night, TCM is playing¬†Inside Daisy Clover, which they’ve been hyping for about two weeks.

I’m sorry, but this is a horrible movie. Does it have some good moments? Sure. Some good acting? Yes. But it’s an awful film. You get sucked in because of a cast member or two, only to realize it’s a wreck and you’re watching it happen. It’s kind of like quicksand.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

But if you DO want something Friday, TCM is screening Kitty Foyle (1940), which you know I like very much, at 4PM.

Here in the States, we are heading into Memorial Day weekend. To me, it’s very special and important, a weekend during which we should be considering those who were gave, as Lincoln so beautifully put it, “the last full measure of devotion” to our country for the sake of freedom. TCM is trying to draw our attention to the men and women who have served this nation with a pretty incredible lineup of films. There are so many, I must say that I can’t pick only a few to fit within the “top five” for the week. My hope is you’ll be able to make a parade or three‚ÄĒand there are few things Americans love more than a parade honouring our military. Maybe DVR these for evening viewing or to try and explain to the kids what others have sacrificed for us; I think Hollywood in the 30s, 40s, and 50s did this much better than contemporary films, if only because then, the focus was on story and character (as in character traits, as well as the ensemble in the film), not special effects. People ask why we don’t make great movies about military exploits today and I think that’s why: studios don’t think story will sell, only special effects and flash.

So, here are my favourites from the weekend’s terrific collection of films. Saturday daytime is full of submarine movies:

 Hell Below, 1933, 6AM Saturday: Robert Montgomery, Walter Huston, Madge Evans, Jimmy Durante, Robert Young. WWI.

Destination Tokyo, 1943, 10AM: Cary Grant, John Garfield, Alan Hale. WWII.

Route 66, USA. Oklahoma. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

“Always A Bridesmaid”
Commerce, Oklahoma

Run Silent, Run Deep, 1958, 2:15PM: Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden. WWII.

Operation Pacific,¬†1951, 6PM: John Wayne, Patricia O’Neal, Ward Bond.

Primetime Saturday is wonderful: two war movies featuring Gary Cooper, both from great directors at that.

Friendly Persuasion, 1956, 8PM: Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire, Marjorie Maine. Hubby and I caught this maybe two years ago, and it’s a sleeper and a charmer you should definitely catch. Based on the Jessamyn West novel, the film follows a family of Quakers and how they deal with the War Between The States. This is a heartfelt, funny movie with all sorts of little family vignettes even as the war winds up. The performances are all very good and most believable, too‚ÄĒagain, we were so caught up in the story and its events: there’s laughter, romance, travel, Sunday-morning racing (much against the wife’s will), everything. I highly recommend this one. Unless you’ve a heart of stone and no sense of humour, I think you’ll like it very much. Directed by William Wyler, it has his touch all over the place.

Sergeant York, 1941, 10:30PM: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie. Classic, superb film based on the real-life story of a pacifist young farmer drafted during WWI who wrestles with his misgivings to become a hero. Directed by Howard Hawks.

On Sunday, May 26, we have a daytime full of John Wayne’s war movies. Though he did not end up in uniform, he was a great ‚ÄĒand one beloved my many veterans.

Back To Bataan, 1945, 11AM: John Wayne, Anthony Quinn, Beulah Bondi, Richard Lew. WWII.

They Were Expendable,¬†1945, 1PM: Robert Montgomery, John Wayne, Donna Reed, Jack Holt. This is a¬†superb, pretty much¬†perfect¬†WWII movie directed by John Ford. Shamefully underrated and unknown. Gorgeous, lush photography. Catch it. It’s beyond good.

The Green Berets, 1968, 3:30PM: John Wayne, Jim Hutton. Vietnam.

Flying Leathernecks, 1951, 6PM: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Janis Carter, Don Taylor.

66 West Twin Drive-In, Oklahoma. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

66 West Twin Drive-In
Weatherford, Oklahoma: Razed in 2011

Battleground, 1949, 8PM: Van Johnson, John Hodiak, Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, James Whitmore. Very good William Wellman-directed film about the Battle of the Bulge.

Monday is Memorial Day itself! Be sure to fly Old Glory (ours needs replacing) and do try to make it to a parade to honour those who’ve given everything for their country.

The Bridge On The River Kwai, 1957, 6:15AM: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa. FANTASTIC. WWII.

The Guns of Navarone, 1961, 9AM: Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn.

The Best Years Of Our Lives, 1946, 5PM: Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo, Harold Russell, Hoagy Carmichael.

Command Decision, 1948, 10:15PM: Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson, Brian Donlevy.

Whew! That’s a lot of very fine war films, if you ask me. Tuesday, there is something more lighthearted.

The Enchanted Cottage 1945
11:15AM Tuesday, May 28

_E X_C O. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images, all rights reserved.

I believe I watched this after my fall. The cast is fine, and quite a few folks whose opinion about such things I respect went gaga to see it was being broadcast. They all agree with me in that¬†Enchanted Cottage¬†is not as fine as we want, and it’s a little weak and unbelievable, but remember: it’s really a post-war fairytale, and should be taken as such. This is the sort of movie where one is best off suspending disbelief, sitting back, and simply enjoying it.

The plot is good enough: Robert Young’s character is disfigured in the war, and returns to the cottage without the bride he thought he’d be bringing to the place for their honeymoon. A rather plain, oft-spurned girl (Dorothy McGuire) who works at the cottage is the only one he’ll talk to; eventually, he marries her out of convenience. And it is here that the spell is cast, for as the couple enter the cottage to begin their honeymoon, both see the other as perfectly beautiful: he is handsome once again and she is strikingly beautiful.

Their neighbor, played by the golden-voiced Herbert Marshall, is told what the cottage’s enchantment has done, and tells them to accept this miracle and enjoy it (as one should this film). He, after all, had lost his sight during WWI, and had to struggle with that himself, finding real joy within. But Young’s snooty family wants to meet his new bride, endangering the spell cast by the cottage and thus the marriage that took place because of it.

Unsurprisingly, movie fans like this a little better than movie critics, and that is how it’s supposed to be, if you ask me. The film is well-done: lovingly filmed with good performances by the three leads especially (though I’m biased toward Marshall and Young already). Though not perfect, as others have said, its heart is in the right place, and it’s an enjoyable little bit of escapism.

For whatever it is worth, Robert Young so loved this film that when he built a home in California, he named it “The Enchanged Cottage”. And if the star liked the movie so much, there’s not a bit of shame in our enjoying it too.

Route 66 in dirt! Oklahoma, USA. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Original Route 66, just south of Miami, Oklahoma.

Also worth watching Tuesday: Till The End of Time, 1946, 2:30PM: Another film starring McGuire, here as a distressed war widow being courted by returning war veteran Guy Madison; Robert Mitchum also stars. Come Live With Me, 1941, 4:30PM: Jimmy Stewart, Hedy Lamarr, Ian Hunter in a cute comedy wherein Stewart marries Lamarr in order to keep her from being deported.

In Old Chicago 1938
10PM Wednesday, May 29
Though I’ve not seen this and I have seen the other prime-time disaster movies tonight, I’d rather post this since it’s intriguing‚ÄĒand I haven’t seen it yet!

Ku-Ku Two. Miami, Oklahoma. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Ku-Ku Hamburgers neon, Miami, Oklahoma.

Every single film in tonight’s lineup is described as “lavish”‚ÄĒsets, casts, cinematography. And they’re right in that description. Here, Tyrone Power, Don Ameche, and Tom Brown are the sons of Mrs. O’Leary (Alice Brady) trying to rule the political and romantic winds of the Windy City in the days leading up to the Chicago fire of 1871. So we have Irishmen, Chicago, a disaster reportedly caused by a cow, and a really good cast. I don’t know about you, but I’m interested enough.

The other big-budget movies tonight? They’re all very good:

Titanic 1953, 8PM: Barbara Stanwyck, Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, Thelma Ritter, Brian Aherne.

The Hurricane  1937, 12AM: Dorothy Lamour, Jon Hall, Mary Astor, C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine, sultry tropical island, the best hurricane ever done by Hollywood, and all directed by John Ford.

San Francisco 1936, 2AM: Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy, Jack Holt.

Screwball Autobody I. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

I saw this sitting outside a body shop in Commerce and mostly couldn’t get over the name of the thing.

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