Finally, FINALLY it actually feels a bit like summer.
Just in time for the end of August.
This is a bit depressing.
Even so, it’s my intention to enjoy the remainder of summer to the best of my ability! But there’s still a schedule to keep. Let’s take a look at the week ahead in classic movies on TCM. But first—the good folks at newly-open Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast in Virginia have recently purchased a lovely portrait of an unknown lady. I suggested she allowed to be named by readers of Belle Grove’s blog, so…they went with my crazy, madcap idea! Do head over and take a look at the fashionable woman, and suggest a name if you like.
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof ’58
Picking a flick for Friday was difficult—Elizabeth Taylor is the Star of the Day, and therefore, it’s a wealth of films to pick from. Still, though the schedule features quite a few marvellous films that have stood the test of time and will continue to do so, it’s hard to pass up Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, which is one of my favourite Taylor performances. As the lead, Maggie, married to an alcoholic (Paul Newman) with some, ah, latent tendencies, surrounded by barbaric and grasping in-laws, and caught in the general swirl of Pollitt family drama, Taylor is indeed a cat on a hot tin roof—her performance is a little like Andy Griffith’s in Face In The Crowd: Maggie is furiously alive, a blue flame trapped in human flesh. Of course, unlike Griffith’s, Taylor’s performance as Maggie, nerves stretched taut, is elegant and lovely, but that’s the part she’s playing: the daughter-in-law of a plantation owner (Burl Ives). In my opinion, it’s one of the finest performances Taylor ever turned in (and more personally, the film got me going on a vintage full-slip buying kick that has still not ended).
Now, Hollywood did remove as much of the homosexual theme as it could; I’ve read the play a few times, and knowing it was there, perhaps I sort of read it into the film—perhaps one of you who’ve not read Tennessee Williams’ play could tell me if you pick up on it. Williams was none to happy about this, nor the Hollywood ending—but omissions or no, this is a superb, fantastic film. The entire cast is outstanding with unforgettable performances, though those of Taylor, Newman, and Ives stand out. Really, there’s as much electricity between Ives and Newman as dying father and alcoholic, disappointing son as there is between Newman and Taylor, his rejected wife who still yearns for him. Incredible. Don’t miss it.
Also worth watching Friday: Lassie Come Home ’43, 7:15AM; National Velvet ’44, 8:45AM; Life With Father ’47, 11AM; Father Of The Bride ’50, 1PM; Father’s Little Dividend ’51, 2:45PM; Giant ’56, 4:15PM; Suddenly, Last Summer ’59, 10PM
The More The Merrier ’43
Saturday, TCM fills its schedule with the films of one of my favourite actors—Charles Coburn! Though hardly the stuff matinee idols were made of, he always seemed to turn in solid performances, and I just enjoy everything he’s in.
In this cute little comedy, the WWII housing shortage forces Jean Arthur’s Connie, already engaged to a bureaucrat (bad idea), to let out a room in her Washington, DC apartment to Coburn—retired millionaire in town to meet with a senator. Ever on the make, Coburn decides to rent out half of his rented room to Sergeant Joe
Carter (Joel McCrea), waiting to be sent overseas—without telling Connie. As you can imagine, Connie is none too happy about this at first, but soon can’t help but find herself attracted to the handsome Sergeant, and the screwball hijinks begin.
The film handles the single woman-two men-one apartment-one bathroom troubles with grace and humour (more than can be said for a similar film done today)—and as we’d expect, the scriptwriters & directors found some fun and creative ways to handle things, but I won’t spoil them for you.
This is one of the many films Hollywood gave us in the 40s that’s very entertaining, not demeaning or insulting, and one that sends you home feeling pretty happy. Not only that, it was nominated for six Academy Awards—not bad for a wartime romantic comedy!—and Coburn’s performance earned one (Arthur received a nomination for Best Actress). After the heavy-duty drama of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, this is the perfect refresher!
Also worth watching Saturday: Vivacious Lady ’38, 6AM; H.M. Pulham, Esq. ’41, 7:45AM; Green Grass of Wyoming ’48, 11:30AM; Together Again ’44, 1PM; Made For Each Other ’39, 2:45PM; Bachelor Mother ’39, 4:30PM; Heaven Can Wait ’43, 6PM
Sunday, TCM celebrates the work of the undisputed King of Hollywood, Clark Gable. I’m happy to see a lot of films we don’t see very often on the schedule. So rarely, in fact, that I’ve not seen most of them myself (though I wish Red Dust had made the cut instead of its 1953 remake, Mogambo). Both of these I have seen however, and as you know, I’m a big fan of It Happened One Night especially. I was going to say that those with a yen for adventure will enjoy Mutiny On The Bounty, but really, both of these are adventures of a sort, aren’t they? That said, I think kids are more likely to enjoy the former.
Also worth watching Sunday: Possessed ’31, 8:45AM; Test Pilot ’38, 1:15PM; Too Hot To Handle ’38, 10PM; Strange Cargo ’40, midnight; The Hucksters ’47, 2AM
The story can be a bit convoluted and baffling, with a lot of bizarre political machinations (but then, it’s politics) and somewhat unbelievable happenings, but if you suspend your disbelief, you’ll get to enjoy a terrific performance from stars Dean Martin (always underrated) and a bizarre one from Hayward.
Hayward plays Ada, a call girl (though this is only barely alluded to!) who inexplicably ends up sweeping rising politician Bo Gillis off his feet. They marry, he becomes governor, somehow she becomes lieutenant governor—I don’t know. It is, again, inexplicable. But it’s great fun to watch, with Martin’s great performance and Hayward’s, which was so unusual—campy, even—it won her a Worst Actress Award. Thus seeing a fine actor plying his craft so well and another actor turning in such an uneven performance is…fascinating. And, again, this is just candy, junk food to enjoy.
Interestingly, despite her performance being pretty much universally panned, Hayward seemed to find it a comfort near the end of her life:
Surprisingly, when Hayward was homebound while fighting her final battle with cancer in the ’70s, Ada was the one film of hers she asked visiting friends to screen for her. She had to be somewhat pleased when her big scene, a tirade against hypocritical club women who look down their noses at her, drew applause from her friends. (via)
That is, I must say, a fun scene. It’s all popcorn, this movie. So just enjoy it. A little candy never hurt anybody!
We wrap the week up with a classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical. I have to be honest—in this version, I think the leads lack chemistry and the story is, in my opinion, not the best. But the music—well, that’s the point of it (though some of the costumes aren’t bad). Tune in for that alone and you’ll be pretty happy.