No, no, I’ve not forgotten, just very busy today! Let’s take a peek at TCM’s schedule for the forthcoming week, shall we?
Choosing was difficult today, because…well, my main pick is on at six in the morning, just about the time the birds are rolling out of bed. But Little Caesar is undeniably a fabulous gangster film, and certainly the one that made Edward G. Robinson a star to be reckoned with (though not feared, because he was a real-life teddy bear of a fellow). I almost hate to use the term “tour de force“, but it’s pretty accurate. Robinson’s portrayal of a stone-hearted mob boss is chilling, frightening, unnerving—and perfect.
So far as the latter film, it’s one I’ve never seen, but apparently, it’s quite good indeed; therefore, I hope to be able to tune in. Starring Paul Muni and Glenda Farrell, it concerns a WWI vet wrongly sent to a hard labor camp. Probably not the cheeriest premise, but I’m very interested! Has anyone else seen it?
Also worth watching Thursday: Gold Diggers of 1935, ’35, 12:30AM; Gold Diggers of 1937, ’36, 2:15AM; The Talk Of The Town ’42, 4AM
Saturday is the last day of Summer Under The Stars. Alas! Though I must say—I rather wish they’d do something like this in, say, January, when much of the country is trapped indoors, suffering from the post-holiday-insanity doldrums. But let’s not pry open the mouths of gift horses. Saturday is dedicated to the films of Rex Harrison, a man probably hated by young men forced to watch My Fair Lady over and over again. But they shouldn’t hate him, because he’s a superb actor, quite versatile (and versatile at getting into trouble, too).
I’ve chosen two different films for Harrison today: the first a comedy about a renown conductor imagining (to music, of course!) how he shall deal with his wife’s suspected adultery. Unfortunately, I’ve only caught parts of it, but what I have managed to see was quite funny, so I’m hoping to catch or at least DVR the Preston Sturges film in its entirety this weekend! The alluring Linda Darnell is Rexy’s maybe-straying wife; Rudy Vallee, Barbara Lawrence, and Edgar Kennedy support.
Anna and the King of Siam is, of course, one of several film tellings of the real-life story of Anna Leonowens, an English governess who finds herself royal tutor for Siam’s ruler, and probably my favourite film version of her tale. Rex Harrison plays the king, who is torn between the old ways and his desire to impress the Europeans; Irene Dunne is Anna, who befriends Siam’s ruler. This relationship is not without rocky portions, particularly when the king reverts to cruel punishments Anna cannot stomach. It’s a fascinating tug-of-war, and the performances of the two leads are simply wonderful.
Also worth watching Saturday: Storm in a Teacup ’37, with Vivien Leigh, 7:45AM; The Citadel ’38, 9:30AM—Robert Donat & Rosalind Russell also star; My Fair Lady ’64, which I’ve always thought overrated save the costumes, Harrison himself, and “I’m Gettin’ Married In the Morning” screens at 5PM; St. Martin’s Lane ’38, 10:30PM; The Rake’s Progress ’45, 2:15AM
Shadow of a Doubt 1943
It’s September 1 today (WHAT?!); Summer Under The Stars is over, but the classic film network is dedicating Sunday nights in September to the work of Alfred Hitchcock! That’s something that ought to make plenty of people happy. Of course, that makes picking a flick difficult, but for this first edition, I’m going with the prime-time pick Shadow of a Doubt, in large part because it stars one of my favourites, Joseph Cotten, but also because this is a very underrated and little-known Hitch flick, one much deserving of wider attention. It’s a very good film with just enough edge of weird in it to keep you wondering about things other than the main plot—namely, is Charlie’s (Theresa Wright) favourite uncle, for whom she was named (played marvellously by Cotten), a serial killer?
Yup, this one is full of “Gahhhhh!”, and more than capable of keeping you scrunched up on your sofa in shock. It takes place in a charming small-but-big-enough town that’s all sunshine and bustle, making Charlie’s fears and suspicions and, of course, Hitchcock’s path for the cast through that town all the more unnerving. All these years later, Shadow of a Doubt holds up tremendously well, easily capable of outdoing any modern-day thriller. Fair warning, though: get any snacks and cocktails ready before this one begins, because it’s thoroughly engrossing, and you will not want to look away. If there’s only one film you can see this week, this ought to be the one.
And if you can’t believe me after all this time…this is one of Hitch’s favourite films. What more do you need?
Also worth watching Sunday: Tarzan The Ape-Man ’32, 6AM; Rope ’48, 12PM; Spellbound ’45, 1:30PM; Psycho, which I’ve never seen, is on at 10PM; The Lodger ’26, 12AM; Blackmail ’29, 2AM
I caught this surprisingly accurate historical film about a year or so ago, and it is interesting enough to include. Napoleon III (Claude Rains) appoints Maxmilian von Hapsburgh as Emperor of Mexico in a play to confiscate lands “Mexico’s Abraham Lincoln”, deposed president Benito Juarez, has given back to the people of the nation. Maxmilian (Brian Aherne) refuses to snap the land back up and decides to abdicate, but wife Carlotta (Bette Davis) pleads with him to stay and help the Mexican people, and the Emperor tries to work with Juarez.
The film is very well done, and pretty close to the real story of what happened; the production values for this are superb, and I suspect Warner Brothers thought they had a smash hit epic on their hands, considering both the PV and the cast (John Garfield, Donald Crisp, Gale Sondergaard, and Montagu Love also star). That said, though it’s very good viewing and a fine film, it for some reason falls just below the level of ‘great’, and this makes it a standout for that reason alone—the viewer can tell it’s reaching very high, and almost makes it, but doesn’t. That’s probably one of the oddest flick recommendations I’ve given in a long while, but it’s the truth! I do recommend it, though. Again, it’s a very good film, and Rains is terrific as Napoleon. Davis turns in an astoundingly subdued and quiet performance for Bette, which is another reason to watch—besides, she and Rains are always a delight to see together.
The Black Swan 1942
Tuesday night, TCM’s beloved Robert Osborne is at the tiller with a few of his own selections for the evening. Most interesting of all to me is this Technicolor Tyrone Power-Maureen O’Hara vehicle—the story, based on a Sabatini novel, sounds like a fun ride! Power is the newly-appointed governor of Jamaica—the newly-appointed governor with a past life as pirate. ! Even so, he sets out to clear the Caribbean of the pirate scourge. A good swashbuckler always gets my attention, and why not? One of the pirates in question is none other than Morgan himself (a ruthless, horrible man, actually); the other main pirates are played by George Sanders (THAT should be fun) and Anthony Quinn.
Of course, pirates or no, the new governor can hardly resist the charms of the previous governor’s daughter (Maureen O’Hara), who isn’t all that interested in love and life with a former brigand.
This is a semi-standard pirate movie, but the origin (Sabatini) and terrific cast has me intrigued. It sounds like a wonderfully entertaining film, and I assure you, there’s nothing wrong with those. From the sound of things, the cast had a great time making it—and that always bodes well. Laird Cregar, Thomas Mitchell also star.