John Ford – Common theme in The Long Gray Line (1955), 3 Godfathers (1948), How Green Was My Valley (1941)

A dramatic common theme -Master director John Ford emotionally depicts the passing of generations by contrasting a happy birth with a tragic death. In The Long Gray Line (1955) –father West Point star James “Red” Sundstrom (William Leslie) dies in WW I while his wife played by Betsy Palmer gives birth to James, Jr. who grows up to be WW II hero played by Robert Francis; In 3 Godfathers (1948)-on TCM 10/27/16- Mildred Natwick plays a dying mother who gives birth to a healthy son rescued by outlaws on the run John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, and Harry Carey, Jr.; and in How Green Was My Valley (1941) Bronwyn (Anna Lee) gives birth while her husband (Patric Knowles) dies in a coal mine accident.  A theme to look for in all John Ford movies!

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Jerry Orbach -Stage, Screen, TV Great!

Happy Birthday to the very talented Jerry Orbach who would have been 81 today-In addition to his acclaimed skills in Broadway musicals I do not have “to try hard to remember” his diverse and convincing acting skills as Martin Landau’s shady hit man brother in Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and as Lenny Briscoe on TV’s Law and Order who knew how to make a classy arrest with humor and often get the truth out of Manhattan doormen about a suspect’s activity!

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The Artist (2011)— Uggie’s Autobiography

Man’s best friend-In one of my all-time favorite movie moments from The Artist (2011)— hero dog Uggie runs swiftly to get help from a first responder for his fire trapped best friend George Valentin. You can hear Uggie’s running and barking rage as his paws hit the pavement in the brilliant Oscar winning music score by Ludovic Bource.  Me with Uggie, the movie star dog from “The Artist” at his autobiography signing— He has a very good paw signature!

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Fred MacMurray -Remember The Night (1940) and The Apartment (1960)

TCM Perennial star Fred MacMurray has a large range-in director Mitchell Leisen’s  Remember The Night (1940)- is a prosecutor that graciously celebrates Christmas with shoplifter Barbara Stanwyck…However in contrast the Billy Wilder masterpiece The Apartment (1960) casts Fred as cheat Jeff Sheldrake who goes Christmas shopping in his wallet to insult and break mistress Shirley MacLaine’s heart with a crisp $100 bill- and we later see Sheldrake’s children playing with their new store bought toys around the Christmas tree in the background as Sheldrake heartlessly hears the news of Shirley’s suicide attempt instigated by the demeaning Christmas giftIt is so much fun to watch Fred’s versatility!

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Art Smith- Key character actor in Brute Force (1947), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), In a Lonely Place (1950)

Much underrated actor Art Smith is brilliant as the out spoken all-knowing prison doctor aware of all the secrets of the “men on the inside” led by Burt Lancaster and eyewitness to the prison administration failures in Dassin’s Brute Force (1947) on TCM 11/02/16.  …Catch him in the heartbreaking Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) as the all-knowing but mute butler sensitive to Joan Fontaine’s lifelong obsession with his master Louis Jourdan …and in Nick Ray’s In a Lonely Place (1950) where Art Smith plays the loyal friend and agent trying to keep his loose temper client (the great Bogart) out of trouble and in with Gloria Grahame.
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Sunset Blvd. (1950)-Double parked outside Schwab’s

In Wilder’s Sunset Blvd. (1950)-Old school Hollywood Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) and Max (Erich Von Stroheim) double parked while sending errand boy Joe Gillis (William Holden) on a mission into Schwab’s where he had a chance meeting with new school Hollywood script reader Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson) and assistant director Artie Green (Pre Joe Friday actor Jack Webb.)

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Roman Bohnen -Great performances in Brute Force (1947) and The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

An underrated character actor (of many) in Dassin’s Brute Force (1947) on TCM 11/2/16 is Roman Bohnen as the weak out of touch warden in contrast to his role in Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) as Fred Derry’s (Dana Andrew) poor but sensitive “other side of the tracks” father who proud of his son’s war record does one of the best out loud letter readings in Cinema history.

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White Heat (1949) -Edmund O’Brien fools Cagney

A TCM Perennial -The Raoul Walsh directed White Heat (1949) – The great performance of one of my favorite actors Oscar winner Edmund O’Brien- an undercover detective here posing as a career criminal to spy on the bad guys even fools vicious masterful Cody Jarrett played by screen great James Cagney …We just cannot wait for the explosive moment when Cagney gets wise to Edmund!! If you ever see a message written on a gas station restroom mirror-call the FBI!!!

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Room Service (1938)- Marx Brothers with Ann Miller and Lucille Ball

On TCM 10/20/16 -Room Service (1938) the Marx Brothers stage the death of their young playwright to stall the hotel owner Wagner from evicting them. They perform a mock memorial service and with their heads bowed say their playwright died too soon with Chico adding “Yeah an hour too soon.”  Catch Ann Miller and Lucille Ball here.

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