We know I’m back when I can really, seriously worry: “Will I miss anything really good on TCM? Something I’ve never seen and have always wanted to? Something marvellous I’ve not seen in ages?”
(I don’t really worry about that. But it would be nice to have it as our top concern, wouldn’t it?)
Really, I spent most of last week with my nose buried in various books. Ah, heavenly.
But back to the usual, yes? Since I didn’t put up any pictures last week, or take many other than those of the pets, I thought I’d go with a “heat wave/summertime” theme. Though it must be said the media consternation over the high temperatures simultaneously amuses and annoys me—it’s JULY. If it WEREN’T in the 90s and 100s, then I’d be worried. It’s supposed to be hot! Revel in it. Soon we’ll be slogging our way through snow and ice, y’all. REVEL. Unless you are Ben. Whose coat, you understand, really precludes him from reveling in the heat!
Larceny, Inc. 1942
Y’all know I’m a big fan of Edward G. Robinson in general, but am especially charmed by his comedic performances in which he pokes fun at his own role as one of Hollywood’s best ever screen gangsters. Every one of his comedies is a treat, but I have to say that this is probably the best of the bunch—and it’s awfully difficult to pick a best out of them.
Here, Eddie G. is an ex-con, “Pressure” Maxwell, who takes over a luggage shop, posing as a reformed man making his way in the world in a respectful and, most importantly, lawful fashion. And it all looks great (and I’m not just talking about some of that handsome vintage luggage—front or no, if I could take a time-reality machine to Pressure’s shop and buy a bunch of that travel gear, I wouldn’t be able to grab cash fast enough!)—no one realizes that Pressure is only “running” the luggage shop as a front so he can tunnel through to the bank next door for what will, of course, be the perfect robbery.
In the meantime, though, Pressure rather accidentally manages to become a well-respected businessman, getting the city to fix the street outside of his shop to increase the road’s traffic, running constant promotions that draw customers (though his goal is to muffle the noise of his fellas tunneling through to the bank), and doing so well in the luggage business that the bank he is planning to rob starts to express interest in his shop! Throw in his adopted daughter (Jane Wyman) and her gentle flirtations with a salesman (Jack Carson), and of course Pressure’s synchronously inept and talented henchmen, and you’ve quite a mix with several surprises.
This is, truly, one of the funniest films Eddie G. ever made, but even if your’e not an Eddie fan, you’re probably going to like this one. It starts off a smidgen slowly, but once it gets going it’s non-stop to the end, and sure to keep you giggling and laughing all the way through. Broderick Crawford, Ed Brophy, and Anthony Quinn also star—and if you watch carefully, you’ll see Jackie Gleason as a soda jerk!
TCM is running The Palm Beach Story this evening at 8, too, so if you’re in the mood for comedies, you have two very, very good ones to DVR & look forward to.
The Jackie Robinson Story 1950
We still haven’t been able to see the recently-released 42 yet (my health and back make sitting in a theatre for a few hours difficult, and it was too nippy for the drive-in when it was released, alas!), but this is the original film based on the baseball legend’s life—and it stars the man himself. This is just a marvellous film—it’s painful and humbling to see, while also being powerfully moving and encouraging. Also, it’s about the only chance most of us will ever have of seeing Robinson play the game at which he was so darned good. I love this movie—and I’m not a baseball fan. But Jackie Robinson is a man all of us can admire and try to emulate in our lives: he was the definition of “class act” in the face of things few of us will ever have to deal with.
Fantabulous thriller starring Ingrid Bergman as a newlywed singer who begins to fear she is losing her mind when odd things no one else seems to see begin happening at her new home. Leonard Malkin says the bloom is off this one, though it’s still good, but I disagree—if you’ve never seen it before, I shan’t ruin the ending for you. It’s a thrilling, slightly creepy ride from beginning to end even after sixty years; very fine performances from Bergman and Charles Boyer, as well as supporting cast Joseph Cotten, Angela Lansbury (in her debut, here as a maid bordering on salacious—at least for the 40s), and Dame May Whitty (who is always a delight in my opinion). Indeed, many say this Bergman’s very best performance—a woman traumatized as a girl who now thinks she is going mad. The story enthralling, the performances fine, the photography and sets sumptuous—perfect for a Saturday night viewing!
Swing Time 1936
Absolutely a four-star outing for Fred and Ginger, in which a newly-engaged Fred tries to prove he’s good enough for his fiance, only to fall for his beautiful dance partner (Ginger, of course!). The music is as delightful as the dancing: “The Way You Look Tonight”, “A Fine Romance”, “Pick Yourself Up”. Charming, beautiful, funny, entertaining, genuine: this is pretty much a perfect movie. There’s so much good in it—what more can I say?
Young Frankenstein 1974
2AM Wednesday (so really, Thursday morning)
If you ask me, this is Mel Brooks’ best movie; it’s riotously funny and he works in all sorts of cues to the original Frankenstein, including the castle itself. We start off on the right foot—Frankenstein’s grandson, Victor (Gene Wilder), has spent his life discounting his grandfather’s work and resulting monster—and things go swimmingly (for the audience, at least). Marty Feldman is a scene-stealer is Igor; Peter Boyle is the “new and improved” monster. Victor finds himself with three women to deal with—his fiance (a hilarious Madeline Kahn), his assistant (Terry Garr), and Frau Blucher, the family housekeeper. I’ve seen this many times, yet it continues sending me into laughter and giggles with every new viewing. There are other fine movies on this week, but it is summer—and I doubt any of us get to laugh as often as we ought!