Tag Archives: TCM

A DFJ Bonanza

dfj_4

Well, if you are a DFJ fan like me, rejoice! We have hit quite the little motherlode of films starting tonight on TCM. TCM rarely plays a DFJ film, let alone this many at once. Four of his early 30s films are being shown this month. What a splendid way to begin the new year!

January 3 @ 3.45am – Show of Shows (1929)

January 3 @ 6am – Loose Ankles (1930)

January 3 @ 7.15am – I Like Your Nerve (1931)

January 11 @ 6am – Love is a Racket (1932)

The only one I have not seen is Show of Shows and it looks like DFJ only has a passing acquaintance with that film. It has been some years since I saw the others though, so I am relishing the chance to see them with fresh eyes. Have a watch and come back to let me know which was your favorite!

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Welcome Back, Bob

As you have probably already heard from the triumphant fanfare around the interwebs, TCM’s beloved host Robert Osborne is returning to his hosting duties this Thursday (December 1). Bobby O (as I call him) has been on vacation these past few months to the chagrin and dismay of many a classic film fan. His short absence only served to prove how much we truly need him because though some of the hosts were superb (and others need to be quickly forgotten…) no one even came close to replicating the charm, charisma, sincerity and sheer brilliance of Robert Osborne.

I know the universal love for Bobby O is hard to understand for people who are deprived of TCM. Let me try to explain. You see, every night Robert Osborne introduces the movies starting at 8pm. The introductions are quite short, considering the impact they have on viewers – usually between 5-7 minutes. But in those short moments, Bobby O shares trivia, stories, history and tidbits about the movie about to be shown. It’s like having a window into the time the movie was made, just to hear him talk. He’ll explain what else was happening at the time the film was made, who else was considered for the parts, why the cast was picked and who was in love with who at the time. He’ll point out scenes not to be missed or bit part appearances of yet-to-be stars. And he shares all this with a genuine warmth of feeling and care not only for the films but for you as a viewer. Robert Osborne is your amazingly knowledgeable friend who loves talking about movies and dropping film facts for you to enjoy.

I owe all my initial knowledge of 1939 as a landmark film production year to him and his introductions of the TCM Spotlight on 1939 some years ago. Even now, I can never watch Gone With the Wind, The Women, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Gunga Din or Ninotchka without thinking of him and remembering his comments on the films at the time.

My other favorite Bobby O memories are those little spots TCM used to play where he read viewer questions and answered them. I assume as the channel grew, it became too difficult to continue making those, but I was smitten with them. It was a little moment where the great Robert Osborne interacted with us as viewers and took the time to discuss what interested us.

His appeal for me is his unshakable devotion to classic films. When he stands in front of the camera and introduces a movie, you know he really cares about what he is saying. He gets it that these movies are incredibly special and need to be treated with respect. Plus, it’s pretty obvious he is as fervent a classic film fan as any of us. I just adore him and am so happy he is returning to his rightful place at the head of TCM. Welcome back, Bobby!

To join in this wonderful Welcome Back Bob party, check out the fabulous Tumblr started by @willmckinley and @misscarley. Many thanks to them for organizing our Bobby O adoration!

12/1/11 Edit – This post was quoted in a Slate.com blog article here!

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A New Recording Log Book

Remember last year when many of the classic film bloggers gave little sneak peeks into their Entertainment Centers? Raquelle was the genius who thought it up, and we all had fun showing off our viewing areas. I showed you this book and told you how I used it to keep my Now Playing guide and my little notebook of daily recording logs:Well, that book was a great disgrace. It was nothing but a cheap three ring binder that I covered in leftover wallpaper (and not too neatly, either). At the time I made it, it was the height of my talents but I have long since outgrown it. Disgrace decided to bust its seams about 2 months ago, but as I was in the middle of a semester at the time, there was nothing I could do about it. It’s been driving me crazy every time I had to gingerly pick the thing up and squeeze it a certain way to avoid spilling all my precious notes and papers on the floor. No more! Meet my brand new Recording Log Book, designed and made by me from scratch:

It’s covered in the same leftover wallpaper as that other disgrace one, but infinitely neater and cleaner this time. The contrast black accents on the front and inside are poster board. It closes with an elastic loop secured around a huge button. I didn’t buy anything to make this book except two screws and two nuts (see below). Everything I used I already had and quite a few things are re-purposed.

The short little cover flap opens and has my log notebook secured with a gold elastic band from a candy box (I can’t bear to throw anything away. I’ve been saving that decoration for years!) The pens I use for writing on discs and in my notebooks are just clipped on the rings of the small book.

Open the large cover flap and you’ll find the latest copy of Now Playing turned to today’s date, tucked into acetate corners. I pulled the 3 ring binder piece from the old binder and attached it to this new one. (This is the only place where I spent money… I had to buy two screws and two nuts to hold the binder insert on. They cost a total of $0.75 in my local hardware store.) I use the plain large notebook to jot down film titles I want to remember or clothes ideas from films. Farther back in the notebook are my VHS and DVD library listings. I write them in the book first, then type them into my computer databases.

All the way in the back of the notebook and star listings are the most recent back issues of Now Playing in an acetate pocket. (more photos here)

Overall, I’m pleased with how this new book turned out. I wish I had planned a place for un-finalized DVDs, maybe an old spindle cut from the DVD packaging and attached somehow. However, the new layout makes it so much easier to plan my recordings for the day and I don’t have to worry about losing my papers when I pick the book up. Goodbye, so long, farewell to Disgrace!

So, what would your book look like? Have an idea for something I missed? Do let me know!

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Movie Review: 2,000 Women

Before I go on and on about what an amazingly brilliant film 2,000 Women (1944) is (and I am going to do that, I promise), let me start by celebrating its availability on DVD.  You really can buy it both in the US and UK!  I’ll provide the links for you at the bottom of this post.  I feel like such a creep when I recommend a film and get everyone all excited about seeing it, only to break the bad news that it’s not on DVD.  Although, I don’t want to stop reviewing films that are not on DVD, since the interest we create in them with our blogs could very possibly push them down the DVD road.  Anyway, on to the review!

2000 women2,000 Women is a British made film starring Phyllis Calvert, Flora Robson and Patricia Roc, to name a few.  It tells the story of 2,000 British women who were interned in a French hotel by the Nazis during World War II.  The film focuses on a small tight knit group of women who are friends because they each have a highly determined personality.  Patricia Roc (sitting on the desk above, with the wireless transmitter to her ear) is the main character: a quiet, soft spoken girl named Rosemary Brown.  Phyllis Calvert (far left, sitting on the bed with a white shirt) is Freda Thompson, a strong, smart sophisticated woman.  Flora Robson (on the floor, listening to the wireless with her back to the camera) is Muriel Manningford, an old style English society woman who takes no guff off the Nazis.  There are many, many more women in the film but it would take ages to list them all and do them justice.

Rosemary and Freda become fast friends in the beginning of the film and end up sharing a room.  The film follows them as they get settled in, learn the ways of the hotel and meet the other inmates.  Amazingly, all the women in the film have incredible hair throughout it, which is a little hard to comprehend, since they had no access to a beauty salon.  The clothes are superb, too.  Lots of slim slacks and collared shirts.  And, in the final scene, all the gals have amazing evening dresses (particularly Phyllis Calvert).

The drama of this film is brought in by a group of RAF fliers who bail out of their plane in the vicinity of the hotel.  The men find their way to the hotel, barging in on several of the women in the middle of the night.  Our lady patriots band together to protect the fliers and try to help them escape.  It’s not an easy task, being that no one knows who to trust and the Nazis lurk around every corner.  There are several surprising plot twists when the ladies find out who their friends really are.  The pilot of the doomed plane, Jimmy Moore, splendidly played by James McKechnie, is the love interest of Patricia Roc’s character Rosemary.  I’m an awful sucker for love stories, and this one is touching, believable and a joy to watch.

You  may be wondering how I managed to see this lovely film.  It played on TCM on September 15, last year in the middle of the night…  Yeah, I just resurrected it.  It sat in my homemade VHS collection for that long.  It’s shameful, I know.

Okay, if you’d like to see this British gem for yourself, you’ve got two options:

Movies Unlimited

Movies Unlimited

The Movies Unlimited version is now on sale for 9 bucks! (House of 1000 Women is the US title)

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.co.uk (Region 2)

The Amazon.co.uk version can be bought new or used. I did check Netflix, and can’t find it listed there.  Although, you Netflix gurus may be able to find it.  I hope so!

I came across some terrific links while looking for photos for this post, so I’ll share them with you:

– A wonderful Patricia Roc fan site, complete with loads of lovely photos.

– The Britmovie page for 2,000 Women.

(There’s an Alastair Sim poll on the main page, for all his fans out there.  Kate – this means you. :) )

I highly recommend this film.  It’s fun, interesting, romantic, suspenseful and just plain enjoyable.  As my old pal Bobby Osborne said, it’s patriotic propaganda.  The patriotic propaganda films of the 40’s are some of the best films of that era.  2,000 Women is no exception.

**1/9/13 Edit – 2000 Women is now available on Netflix streaming! Thanks so much Ivan for pointing it out.**

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Ronnie Heaven

I’m just reeling from the idea of Ronald Reagan being TCM’s Star of the Month.  Ronnie is one of my top favorite actors of the 1940’s. (see my top 10 list here) So, when I received my copy of Now Playing a couple of weeks ago and saw Ronnie’s handsome face gracing the cover, I nearly swooned!

Oh, Ronnie – how I adore you.

Well, on to more serious issues.  His films – winners one and all, I’d say.  And that’s not just my Ronnie bias speaking either.  I remember hearing Robert Osborne decry the misconception of Ronnie’s films, too.  If you have been avoiding Ronnie’s films because of the prevailing idea of their awfulness, please reconsider.

I’ve got some top picks for you, if you’re game:

Desperate Journey (1942) – A terrific war thriller starring Errol Flynn, Ronnie, Arthur Kennedy and Alan Hale.  The guys are American airmen who get stranded in Germany and have to fight their way out.  There’s several truly hilarious moments of comedy with Alan Hale. (TCM – March 25 @ 12.45am eastern, not available on DVD)

The Voice of the Turtle aka One for the Book (1948) – A truly tender love story with Ronnie and Eleanor Parker.  Ronnie can’t get a hotel room for his leave, so he stays with Eleanor.  Other cast attractions include the multi-talented Eve Arden and Wayne Morris.  (TCM – March 19 @ 4 am eastern, not available on DVD either!)

The Hasty Heart (1950) – This is an amazingly good film in it’s own right and with the stellar cast, it’s nearly perfect.  Ronnie, Richard Todd and many others are recooperating soldiers in a hospital in Burma.  Patricia Neal is their nurse.  Richard Todd is a Scotsman who is determined not to get involved with the other men.  The story revolves around the group trying to break him down and make him see how beautiful life can be.  It’s quite moving. (Sadly, TCM hasn’t scheduled this one.  I’m calling Bobby Osborne to find out why! ;) But, it is available on DVD in The Ronald Reagan Signature Collection)

Have a look at dear Ronnie’s films, if you get the chance.  I think you’ll find they aren’t half as bad as people say they are.  I’m off to spend some more time in Ronnie Heaven! :)

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Movie Review: Divorce, American Style

Im seeing conflicting reports on DVD availibility.  Amazon sells it used, but TCM says its not on DVD.  Hmmm.
Availability: Amazon has is on Instant Watch and sells it used. Netflix has it on DVD only.

Divorce, American Style (1967) is way out of my normal viewing range, but I watched it for several reasons.  First, Raquelle over at Out of the Past did a series of posts a couple of weeks ago about films from the 60’s, encouraging her readers to give them a chance.  She was terribly optimistic, so I decided that my close-mindedness about 60’s films needed to end.  I had to swallow my preconceived notions and watch one with a new outlook.  My other reasons for viewing Divorce, American Style were the stars: Debbie ReynoldsDick Van Dyke, Van Johnson, Jean Simmons and Jason Robards, Jr.  It’s a first class cast if there ever was one.  So, long story short – I’m very glad Raquelle pushed me on my 60’s dislike, because I found Divorce, American Style to be funny, smart, entertaining and earnestly sweet.

Debbie & Dick are Barbara and Richard Harmon, a married couple that continually quarrel.  With the help of a dubious marriage counselor and their friends, they decide that they would be so much better off divorced.  (This aspect struck me as being similar to The Women (1939), btw.)  The  film deals with the logistics of their divorce and the treacheries of dating.  A lot of the humor is derived from the divorce laws of the time, which strongly favored women and made it highly undesirable for men to get divorced, since they pretty much got shafted.

Richard meets up with Nelson Downes (Jason Robards, Jr.) while having visitation with his sons.  Nelson is divorced from his wife, Nancy (Jean Simmons) and is living in poverty because of the settlement.  Nelson wants to remarry his now-pregnant girlfriend, Eunice (Eileen Brennan) but can’t until Nancy gets remarried and disqualifies herself for alimony.  Nelson plays matchmaker for his wife, bringing home possible beaus for her to choose from.  (I found that aspect of the story to be rather disturbing and kind of bizarre.) Nancy and Nelson seem to have a mutual fondness for one another, but are bound and determined to be married to other people.  Anyway – Richard becomes Nancy’s love interest, but there’s a problem .  Richard can’t marry Nancy until Barbara remarries (that pesky alimony!).  So, Nancy and Nelson set out to find a new hubby for Barbara.  This is where Van Johnson comes in. Van adds a lighthearted touch to the whole mix as “Big” Al Yearling, a lovable, mama’s boy car salesman.  If this sounds ridiculously complex, it is.  I think it’s a purposeful complexity to make the 60’s divorce craze look silly and pointless.

I really liked Van in this film.  He is a joy to watch.  He’s not supposed to be likable, but he is sweet and honest.  Jason Robards was rather creepy, I thought.  He has an almost evil quality that shines through a couple times and it’s undesirable.  Debbie and Dick are a very believable married couple.  It always annoys me when the couple in a film don’t seem to truly be in love.  You can always tell when actors and actresses don’t like each other and it makes the film less enjoyable.  Jean Simmons is amazingly lovely.  I would venture to say that she looks better in this film than in her earlier films (if that’s possible – maybe age was becoming to her?).

My most favorite scene of the whole film is the nightclub scene with Pat Collins, the hypnotist.  Barbara & Al, Richard & Nancy, Nelson & Eunice all go on the town together to celebrate Barbara & Richard’s divorce being final. (Like I said, it’s got it’s bizarre aspects.) They end up in a nightclub where Pat Collins is performing and Barbara & Al get up on the stage to be hypnotized.  I tried to find a clip of it, but it doesn’t seem like there is one (at least not on YouTube or TCM’s Media Room).  Pat Collins totally steals the show in her lovely 60’s gown, big hair and enormous sunglasses.  According to this article in the New York Times, Pat had a successful nightclub in Hollywood on the Sunset Strip.  She used her hypnosis techniques to help people quit smoking and overcome fears.

There is an episode of The Lucy Show that Pat appeared on.  I’ve got it linked below.  It’s in several parts, and it’s not the best quality, but you can get to see Pat Collins at work.  If you’d like to see the rest of the act, click on the video, they should be in the sidebar.

Enjoy.  :)

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Movie Review: The Young In Heart

Oh, The Young In Heart (1938)…  I’ve watched it twice already since it showed on TCM as part of Architecture Class on February 3 and I’ll be watching it again.

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Janet Gaynor, Billie Burke and Roland Young are a family (The Carltons) of high class con-artists who travel to the most posh spots to fleece the very rich.  Doug and Janet are brother and sister, Billie and Roland are husband and wife.  Billie and Roland are called “Marmy” (as in Little Women) and “Sahib” by their children.  Some reviewers called this aspect “cutesy” but I think that all four of them have a great rapport in the film and the family bond truly works.

When we meet them, they have just been kicked out of Monte Carlo (or someplace similar) because the law caught up with them.  Their hopes of Richard (Doug) making a advantagous marriage to a southern belle heiress are dashed.  George-Ann’s hope of marrying her penniless beau (the film debut of Richard Carlson – doing a mighty convincing Scottish accent, btw) goes by the wayside, too.  On the train ride back, George-Ann meets up with a lonely but rich old lady who George-Ann decides to stick for a meal.  The old lady (Miss Fortune) is played by Minnie Dupree.  Minnie Dupree was mostly a stage actress and only made four films, which is sad because she’s wonderful as Miss Fortune.

Well, as you’ve probably guessed, the Carltons take full advantage of their new trusted position with Miss Fortune and hatch a plot to get her to will them her estate.  It proceeds from there to a sweet, poignant story of the four Carltons fighting their own cynicism and worldliness while becoming more and more enchanted with Miss Fortune.  I won’t spoil the ending for you, if you haven’t seen it.

There are many reasons why I am passionately fond of this film, starting with the utterly adorable Doug Jr.  The accent, the smile, the incredible personal style, the dignity, the class – all just make him so thrilling.  This revelation will be no surprise to you though, if you looked at my 20 Actors meme.  I know that for some reason, Doug Jr. is just not as famous or beloved as Clark Gable or Spencer Tracy, but in my estimation, he tops both.

Next reason for passionate fondness:  Jane the dog.  The photo above is of a scene where Doug and Paulette Goddard (his love interest) visit a dog farm and look for a special puppy for an old lady.  That special puppy is Jane (that’s not her in the photo), a darling little white dog with a “large black eyebrow over one eye.”  I’ve been trying to find photos of her on the web, to no avail.  She’s so sweet.  I’ve been quite taken with little white dogs for a while now (especially terriers) and I’ve decided that s o m e d a y, I’ll share my life with one.  :)

Third reason for passionate fondness: the remarkable architecture and sets.  Doug sits in an engineering office that has out-of-this-world paintings on the walls.  Then, Roland Young gets a job working for a car dealership that sells the imaginary Wombat.  It’s a deco explosion of amazing sets for that dealership.  And, the Wombat itself is so terrific.  It’s actually a Phantom Corsair that was going to be put into production after the films release.  Unfortunately, the builder died before the deal was complete and the Phantom Corsair never materialized.

Fourth reason for passionate fondness (“which,” to quote Mr. Collins of Pride & Prejudice fame, “perhaps I should have mentioned first”):  the clothes!  Janet Gaynor and Billie Burke wear some fantastic fur coats in the beginning of the film.  Billie’s collar is like a halo of light colored fur all around her face.  Janet’s full length fur coat has a notched collar and she complements it with an exaggerated fedora-type hat.  Here’s a link to a clip from the film where you can see this coat up close and personal.  (TCM doesn’t let this one be embedded.)

If you’d like to see it, it is available on DVD (amazingly!) for purchase through Amazon or, you can wait for it to be shown on TCM again at 7.30am on April 19 (US Eastern time).

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