This week y’all get a few bonuses, because…it’s my blog, and I can. But that makes your life easier too, right? Right! Also, I thought I’d keep with this week’s accidental “I need to eat that now” theme going, by filling this post with photos from my own kitchen, though some of the photos are from my pre-celiac days. I figured making all of you frightfully hungry can’t hurt.
The Guns of Navarone 1961
3:15PM Thursday 8.15
This is probably criminal opinion in some circles, but I actually think I like Guns of Navarone juuuuuuuuust a little bit more than I do Bridge On The River Kwai, playing later this week and undoubtedly another fantastic war movie. Perhaps it’s the presence of Gregory Peck, star of the day, or maybe the story simply appeals to me more—also, it is a little easier to take emotionally speaking than River Kwai. In it, Peck’s Captain Mallory leads a group of men in an attempt to take out two large German guns guarding the Aegean entryway atop a peak on the island of Navarone so that a trapped Allied Force can evacuate. This is an unusual war film, because it’s heavily dosed with adventure, but that hardly disqualifies it from its place as one of the best WWII films Hollywood has released.
Thrilling from beginning to end, you also have just plain terrific performances from the cast, particularly Peck and Anthony Quinn (David Niven also stars). The addition of two female resistance fighters (Irene Pappas and Gia Scala) to the team of men of course adds a bit of additional excitement…particularly when the men begin to fear one of them might be a traitor.
With Navarone, we’ve an exciting war-adventure film for everyone, even those who don’t like war movies. I really can’t recommend it enough.
Also worth watching Thursday: Pork Chop Hill 1959, 7:30AM; The Valley Of Decision 1945, 9:15AM (romance co-starring Greer Garson); Spellbound 1945, 11:15AM; Designing Woman 1957, 1:15PM (comedy-romance with Lauren Bacall); Captain Horatio Hornblower is on at 6PM, but really, much as I love Gregory Peck, I prefer the more contemporary Ioan Griffuth miniseries, which should never have stopped production; The Macomber Affair 1947, 8PM; The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit 1956, 9:45PM; Duel In The Sun 1947, 12:30AM. Yup, that’s pretty much every film on the schedule! Come on. It’s Gregory Peck!
Mildred Pierce 1945
8PM Friday 8.16
Star of the Day Ann Blyth plays the Most Evil Daughter Ever (or one of them) in this classic melodrama. One of my favourite films—one of those I can’t resist watching. Imitable Joan Crawford plays Blyth’s mother Mildred Pierce, a hard-working housewife and divorcee who goes from waitressing to restaurant-ownership in an effort to provide her daughters with everything they desire…and daughter Veda (Blyth) has expensive taste, to the point that eventually, Mildred and Veda are after the same man. Oi. Great drama and delicious fun every step of the way. Enjoy!
Also worth watching Friday: The King’s Thief 1955, 9:45AM
Two more films you know I adore, both featuring Star of the Day Wallace Beery as a rather uncouth nouveau riche fella mixing with the upper class, and both featuring glittering all-star casts that turn in marvellous performances. The first film, one of my very favourites, stars, of course, Greta Garbo as well as John and Lionel Barrymore, a young and dreamily-languorous Joan Crawford as Beery’s newly-hired assistant, Lewis Stone, and Jean Hersholt; the second features brilliant performances from Jean Harlow and Marie Dressler (with the killer closing line of this comedy) as well as John & Lionel Barrymore again, Lee Tracy, Billie Burke, Madge Evans, Hersholt again, and May Robson. Both films are like fine cocktails, perfectly mixed and beautifully served in the most flawless environment you can imagine. Watch them both, for they exemplify how film is meant to be. Moreover, they’re great movies to enjoy with a group of friends, or share for date night!
Also worth watching Saturday: The Last of the Mohicans 1920, 6AM (yes, 6AM, but worth it); The Big House 1930, 7:30AM; The Champ 1931, 12:30PM;
The Tall T 1956
8PM Monday 8.19
I’ve never seen this western, but the book upon which it’s based was written by fellow Michigander Elmore Leonard, whose son I worked with for several years. Today’s star is Randolph Scott, with whom I’m most familiar thanks to My Favourite Wife (screening at 11:30PM), and it must be said I’ve not seen many of his other films, and this flick about a cowboy falling for a kidnapped married woman sounds like a fair bet. (Hey, I’m never anything less than honest with you all!)
George Washington Slept Here 1942 & Gone With The Wind 1939
4:30PM & 8PM Tuesday 8.20
Picking a movie for today was difficult. Our Star of the Day is Hattie McDaniel, who I love, but it must be admitted that most of her roles—all of them, I think—were supporting. And though she steals the scene in ever darned movie she’s in, and she had a knack for choosing superb scripts, they don’t offer enough of her. Does that make sense? It was probably hard for the programmers to pick flicks honouring Ms. McDaniel as well. (Though I should note, she defended her selection of these roles to play when attacked for doing so.)
Therefore, I’ve chosen two of today’s movies. First is a Jack Benny Money Pit-style comedy that, though not Great, is entertaining—plus the opening credits, all done in embroidered cross-stitch, leave me giddy every time I see it. (I’ll bet those cards were tossed after filming, too—what a shame! They’re charming!)
Our second pick is that sprawling epic, Gone With The Wind, based on Margaret Mitchell’s best-seller. And I’ve included it because I think Mammy, played by McDaniel, is actually one of the strongest characters in the film. Yes, I said that. Mammy didn’t take anybody’s guff, including Scarlett’s, and saw through that girl at every turn, never failing to try and psychologically smack Scarlett, who she adored, back onto the straight and narrow. Scarlett is just a self-centered, manipulative little wench, steel-spined though she was—but in Mammy, she’s more than met her match, if you ask me. Forget Rhett; the real battle of wills was with Mammy, who was just as smart and just as tough as her O’Hara charge. Thus we see and understand when Scarlett leans upon Mammy for strength when her own saps. McDaniel won an Academy Award for her performance in 1939’s smash hit, and she beyond earned it.
Also worth watching Tuesday: The Shopworn Angel 1938, 11:30AM; The Mad Miss Manton 1938, 1PM (another not Great but entertaining movie); The Great Lie 1941, 2:30PM; Show Boat 1936, 12AM; Alice Adams 1938, 2AM; In This Our Life 1942, 4AM
The Bridge On The River Kwai 1957
8PM Wednesday 8.21
I told you it was coming, and here it is. We begin and end our week on TCM with truly GREAT WWII movies. But while the intrepid heroes of Guns of Navarone are trying to destroy German guns, River Kwai‘s heroes are prisoners of war, being forced by their Japanese captors to build a vital bridge in Burma. But even as the British men build the bridge, two of their lot plot its destruction to prevent further damage to Allied forces.
This is an incredible movie (and has seven Oscars to prove it, from the days when Oscars meant “Great Movie” and not “Socially Acceptable”).
Also like Navarone, this is more of a psychological war movie, not a shoot ’em up, outflank ’em, storm the enemy type of movie (and there’s a place for those, too)—but this does have fantabulous action sequences, too. As I said, it’s hard to pick between the two. And the cast! William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, Geoffrey Horne…directed by David Lean. It’s so good. Fine score, too. Don’t miss it.
Also worth watching Wednesday: Boots Malone, 1952, 7:30AM; Executive Suite 1954, 11:30AM; Picnic 1956, 3:30PM; Born Yesterday 1950, 11PM (one of my very favourite comedies—almost made the top pick, but watch it anyhow!);