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The TCM Ten 5/9-5/15 May 9, 2009

Posted by clydefro in : Classic Films , trackback

A review for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance that, arm twisted, may be my favorite thing I’ve written has recently gone up at DVD Times. I’m also in the process of posting reviews to the three films in the Criterion Collection’s “Pigs, Pimps & Prostitutes: 3 Films by Shohei Imamura” set, a release that I’m overwhelmingly excited is happening and one that I hope will be successful for the label. TCM picks are a day or so late, mostly because of these reviews. As always, all times are EDT and program days begin at 6:00 AM.

Sunday May 10

6:00 AM Bachelor Mother (Kanin, 1939) - BW-82 mins. - I’ve mentioned this movie before here, but it’s just so delightful that I can’t overdo the recommendation. Ginger Rogers plays a department store worker who finds herself with a baby that isn’t hers. David Niven is the son of the store’s owner (Charles Coburn) and eventual love interest for Ginger. There’s a very funny scene involving wind-up Donald Duck toys in the store. RKO originally distributed the film and that studio was also used by Disney to release his cartoons before he set up shop independently. Bachelor Mother can be had on DVD in France and the UK, though the latter is only a colorized version. Warner Bros. controls the rights in R1 but hasn’t released its own version yet. You just know those scoundrels are probably going to throw the movie onto a $20 DVD-R now. Keep the early Sunday morning comedy momentum going with Carole Lombard in Lady by Choice at 7:30 AM.

10:00 PM The Sign of the Ram (Sturges, 1948) - BW-84 mins. - The last film of actress Susan Peters has her play a wheelchair-bound woman who manipulates her family. Alexander Knox and Peggy Ann Garner co-star in the picture, which was also the only one Peters made after suffering an accident that resulted in paralysis. What a raw deal she got. Oscar nomination for 1942’s Random Harvest when she was in her early twenties. Bullet in the spine from a discharged hunting rifle that left her paralyzed from the waist down in 1945. Dead at just 31 years old in 1951. The Sign of the Ram was directed by John Sturges for Columbia. It isn’t on DVD.

12:00 AM The Cheat (DeMille, 1915) - BW-59 mins. - The remake of this film can be found in Universal’s Pre-Code Hollywood Collection that came out a bit over a month ago. After watching that version, starring Tallulah Bankhead, I’m interested to see what is apparently an even more daring take by Cecil B. DeMille. The extremely odd sexual predator character was played by future director Irving Pichel in the 1931 film, but here it’s Sessue Hayakawa in the role. The Japanese actor also stars in the film next on TCM’s schedule, The Dragon Painter, which has a typically excellent DVD from Milestone available. DeMille’s The Cheat is also on DVD, from Kino in a set with Manslaughter, another silent from the same director.

Monday May 11

6:15 AM Miranda (Annakin, 1948) - BW-77 mins. - A man (Griffith Jones) goes fishing and soon enough finds himself a mermaid (Glynis Johns). Directed by Ken Annakin, who just passed away a couple of weeks ago, the fantasy film also stars Googie Withers as the lucky fisherman’s wife, Withers’ real-life husband John McCallum, and Margaret Rutherford. The UK production isn’t on DVD and was released by Eagle-Lion in American theaters. I’m not sure where that would put the rights.

7:45 AM The Magic Box (Boulting, 1951) - C-108 mins.- Another British film in the early morning. The behind the scenes talent is quite impressive, with John Boulting directing, Ronald Neame producing, Jack Cardiff behind the camera, and a screenplay by Eric Ambler. Robert Donat stars as a man who may have been the first to invent the motion picture camera. Maria Schell plays his wife and Richard Attenborough is down the cast list. Credited even further down on IMDb are Laurence Olivier and Peter Ustinov. What’s that about, I wonder. This one is available on DVD in the UK, though not stateside.

8:00 PM The Hucksters (Conway, 1947) - BW-116 mins. - Really great cast here, lead by Clark Gable and Deborah Kerr in her Hollywood debut. They’re joined by Sydney Greenstreet, Adolphe Menjou, Ava Gardner, even Edward Arnold. The plot finds veteran Gable moving into the advertising business. He takes interest in widow Kerr and, briefly, singer Gardner. Surprisingly not available on DVD, the MGM production should have its rights controlled by Warner Bros. Another marketing themed movie, Callaway Went Thataway, follows at 10:15 PM.

Tuesday May 12

8:00 PM Tortilla Flat (Fleming, 1942) - BW-99 mins. - The Latino Images in Film festival continues tonight, starting with this adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel. Spencer Tracy stars alongside Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield in a story about the lazy, aimless ways of a group of people. I can imagine that the commentator speaking with Robert Osborne this evening will not endorse the way Latinos are portrayed in the film. It did earn an Oscar nomination for Frank Morgan, playing the character named “the Pirate.” No DVD here, with it being a Warner Bros. via MGM property.

Thursday May 14

2:15 PM Smilin’ Through (Franklin, 1932) - BW-98 mins. - Norma Shearer alert. This sounds like a convoluted story that’s difficult to even try to quickly summarize. Something about a man (Leslie Howard) who is about to marry a woman (Shearer) but another man (Fredric March) is jealous enough to kill the woman. Howard’s character spends years of loneliness but takes in the niece of his dead fiancee (who grows up to also be Norma Shearer). The niece then takes interest in the son (March again) of the man who killed her aunt. The film was one of ten nominated for Best Picture in 1934, losing to Cavalcade. Another MGM production, not on DVD, with rights held by Warner Bros.

9:30 PM My Man and I (Wellman, 1952) - BW-99 mins. - Ricardo Montalban plays a Mexican (Chu Chu Ramirez is the character’s name) who proudly becomes an American citizen but has his dignity tested while laboring in the fields. An excellent supporting cast includes Shelley Winters, Claire Trevor and Wendell Corey. Director William Wellman was nearing the end of his career but still very much relevant, making Island in the Sky and The High and the Mighty the following two years. This movie has not shown up on DVD and was, again, done for MGM but now owned by the WB.

Friday May 15

9:15 AM Walk Softly, Stranger (Stevenson, 1950) - BW-100 mins. - Shades of film noir from the director of Mary Poppins? Joseph Cotten and Alida Valli, before The Third Man but released after it, are the leads, with Spring Byington, John McIntire and, yes, Jack Paar in tow. Cotten’s character drifts into a small Ohio town and acts like it was his boyhood home. Byington is his new landlady and Valli the crippled woman he falls in love with, though neither realizes Cotten is actually a crook. The film was done for producer Dore Schary and released by RKO. Unavailable on DVD, it should now be a Warner Bros. property.


1. John Hodson - May 9, 2009

‘Credited even further down on IMDb are Laurence Olivier and Peter Ustinov. What’s that about, I wonder.’

Ustinov wasn’t exactly a star at the time, and Olivier’s role is in spirit of De Niro’s in Brazil - well, you’ll find out…

2. Ed Frebowitz - May 13, 2009

Hello I like this Blog.

3. Jerry Frebowitz - May 13, 2009

‘You just know those scoundrels are probably going to throw the movie onto a $20 DVD-R now.’

Yes, “Bachelor Mother” is among the first group of 150 titles from Warners MOD program, which will be available starting next week through the TCM website.

4. clydefro - May 13, 2009

Thanks guys. I can’t say I’m overjoyed at the idea of paying more for these when compared to earlier Warner retail releases and getting less. A discussion for another time though.

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