On TCM 9/1/16- Sullivan’s Travels (1942) – A movie from the heart not to be missed by great writer/director Preston Sturges perfectly cast with Joel McCrea as sincere filmmaker John L. Sullivan who goes on the road alone as a hobo (“Without friends, without credit, without checkbook, without name.”) to find out about the human condition and then make a picture about it. Veronica Lake plays “the girl” that per Sullivan: “There’s always a girl in the picture. What’s the matter, don’t you go to the movies?”
On TCM 8/31/16- The Vincente Minnelli directed Some Came Running (1959) adapted from the James Jones novel about WW II veteran and former writer Dave Hirsh (Frank Sinatra) returning home to face civilian hometown conflicts. I love the Oscar nominated here performance of Shirley MacLaine as Ginny, a woman in love with Dave Hirsh and enjoyed Dean Martin as the professional gambler and the great Arthur Kennedy (Oscar nominated here also) as Dave’s older resentful brother. Catch the final carnival scene cited by Martin Scorsese in A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies as one of the “best and most expressive uses of CinemaScope.”
Gene Wilder will live forever in:
- The Arthur Penn directed Bonnie and Clyde (1967) as Eugene Grizzard, the nice guy on a date hijacked and temporarily befriended by the dangerous Barrow gang.
- The Mel Brooks masterpiece The Producers (1967) as Leo Bloom the shy accountant persuaded by shady Max Bialystock (the great Zero Mostel) to enter into a creative Broadway con game during a Central Park rowboat rental and lunch at a hot dog stand- “I’ll do it.”
- The Arthur Hiller directed Silver Streak (1976) on a dangerous, as well as funny long distant train ride with Jill Clayburgh and Richard Pryor, whom Gene had a special chemistry with. “Next time we will take a plane.”
And in many other movies we will always remember Gene fondly!
On TCM Sat 8/30/16: Spartacus (1960)-the careful framing of the action by master director Stanley Kubrick brings out the emotional impact of Dalton Trumbo’s screenplay. By capturing the speechless reactions of slaves Woody Strode and Kirk Douglas on deck for the next gladiator match to the horror of the previous match, Kubrick’s camera sets up the audience for the overwhelming impact of the Strode/Douglas battle. Great screenwriting enhanced by skillful direction!
On TCM 8/31/16- the very funny Who Was That Lady? (1960) – a TV writer played by Dean Martin comes up with a tall tale alibi story for Tony Curtis to tell wife Janet Leigh that Dean and Tony are secret FBI agents on assignment with the beautiful other women Barbara Nichols and Joi Lansing who are dangerous fugitive enemy spies. Catch the great James Whitmore as an actual FBI agent and F Troop TV icon Larry Storch as the real enemy agent who certainly teaches Dean and Tony a lesson about espionage.
In legendary director George Steven’s brilliant I Remember Mama (1948)—the great Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the loving but deadbeat boarder Mr. Hyde provides to the San Francisco Norwegian immigrant Hansen family the gift of dramatic readings from classic books. He might not have paid the rent—but it was “a far better thing” (to quote the hero of Charles Dickens’ Tales of Two Cities) that he left his book collection as his final gift to the family.
If the Kazan directed Brando/Steiger cab scene in On The Waterfront (1954) is the quintessential dramatic one in cinema history, on TCM 8/28/16- the Joel McCrea/Jean Arthur/Charles Coburn taxicab scene in George Steven’s The More the Merrier(1943) was the all-time best comic one.
The remarkable fact about Edward G Robinson is that he always looked the same but had a different persona in every movie! Catch on TCM Sun 8/28/16 John Ford’s The Whole Town’s Talking (1935) where he convincing plays two different roles, a meek guy and an aggressive gangster looking the same.
A TCM Halloween perennial – The Body Snatcher (1945), a Val Lewton produced horror film where master director Robert Wise fills the screen in NOIR style with screen greats: Bela Lugosi in a striking cameo as the doctor’s servant Joseph; Henry Daniell as ruthless Dr. MacFarlane and Boris Karloff in an all-time great performance as John Gray, the taunting local cabman/body snatcher whom the doctor could “never get rid of.” We have the NOIR streetcar to doom here-only it is a horse drawn carriage!