On TCM today 1/21/17-The phenomenal Jerome Moross original soundtrack on vinyl of The Big Country (1958) directed by the great William Wyler brings memories via my restored Technics turntable of wide open western vistas to my Burbank living room and the father son act by Oscar winning here Burl Ives and “Rifleman” Chuck Connors in quite a different part as Burl’s misguided son Buck.
A TCM perennial–William Wyler directed masterpiece The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) shot by great cinematographer Gregg Toland -famous for use of “Deep Focus” in Citizen Kane (1941) and The Grapes of Wrath (1940)… Catch an example here in the sequence where Frederic March (Al Stephenson) asks Dana Andrews (Fred Derry) to call his daughter Peggy during a dual close up at a table in Butch’s place. Then Fred goes to a phone booth and Al runs into Harold Russell (Homer) and Hoagy Carmichael (Uncle Butch) extreme screen right who are unaware of the issue between Al and Fred but sense something is wrong when they see Fred making the call extreme screen left. Very powerful sequence where Toland’s deep focus camera set up and Wyler’s framing enhances the dramatic impact.
There is nothing like the pleasure of viewing master director Howard Hawk’s Bringing Up Baby (1938) and admiring the fast talking of “Screwball Comedy” super stars Cary Grant (Birthday today 1/18) and Katherine Hepburn as they deal with a pet baby leopard “Baby” in Connecticut and a terrier George (played by Asta -a prolific scene stealer if you ask Nick and Nora Charles) who refuses to reveal where he buried the priceless intercostal clavicle bone. Catch the moment when Baby and George become friends!
William Holden as Shears in my favorite war movie David Lean’s Oscar winner for Best Picture and Director The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) manages to have a brief romance with a nurse played by Ann Sears after his escape from the Japanese POW camp. Jack Hawkins as Major Warden, a commando leader, is probably more impressed with Holden’s skill in engineering this romance than he is with the escape from the prison camp and drafts Shears into his commando team– in Major Warden’s words- Good Show!
I am very impressed by the NOIR Raw Deal (1948) directed by Anthony Mann and creatively shot by Oscar winning Cinematographer John Alton with escaping convict/fall guy Joe Sullivan (Dennis O’Keefe) set up by gangster Raymond Burr. Along for the ride with their doomed love Joe are his moll girl played by the great Claire Trevor and in an extraordinary performance as a nice girl social worker is Marsha Hunt. Catch the low camera angle shots enhancing the villainy Burr; the embedding of Trevor’s image within a clock to emphasize the approaching doom; and the contrasting very bright beach location where Marsha Hunt attempts to escape from the darkness.
On TCM Sunday 1/15/17 – Oscar winning here Writer Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve (1950) takes us on a bumpy ride where the great Bette Davis plays Margo Channing- the famous accomplished actress on the top with Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington-a most promising award winning new comer still cunningly climbing to the top…The great 6 times Oscar nominated supporting actress Thelma Ritter as Margo’s maid Birdie was wise to Eve early: “What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snappin’ at her rear end.” And the all-knowing narrator Oscar winning here George Sanders as theatre critic Addison DeWitt is well aware of the Margo/Eve conflict: “Too bad, we’re gonna miss the third act. They’re gonna play it offstage.”
On TCM today 1/15/17-From the brilliant Sweet Smell of Success (1957) directed by the underrated Alexander Mackendrick- a New York City chilly evening warning- keep out of the evil gaze of unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) as he looks for dirt about you through his heavy power frame glasses!! –And Tony Curtis as the sleazy Sidney Falco in business for himself as a publicist who goes night club hopping around New York on chilly nights without a coat to save on tipping coat check girls!