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The TCM Ten 5/16-5/22 May 15, 2009

Posted by clydefro in : Classic Films, The TCM Ten , trackback

Birthdays everywhere this week. Frank Capra, Robert Montgomery, Laurence Olivier, and James Stewart all would have celebrated their births this week in May. Currently, however, I’m looking ahead to August. August 13th, to be exact. TCM’s “Summer Under the Stars” continues that month and the 13th is a day full of Gloria Grahame movies. Cannot wait. Sterling Hayden gets his own day also. See the schedule for yourself here. As always, all times are EDT and program days begin at 6:00 AM.

Saturday May 16

4:00 AM Riptide (Goulding, 1934) - BW-92 mins. - This week is a feast for fans of Robert Montgomery, including a birthday anniversary celebration on the 21st. Here he stars with Norma Shearer, seducing her along the French Riviera despite Shearer’s marriage to Herbert Marshall. The film was released (according to IMDb) in late March of 1934, making it just barely pre-Code. MGM was the distributor, though Warner Bros. should now control. It isn’t on DVD.

Sunday May 17

1:30 PM A Child Is Waiting (Cassavetes, 1963) - BW-104 mins. - There was turmoil during the filming of this, a predictable clash between Cassavetes and producer Stanley Kramer, but the remnants of the picture are still pretty good. It concerns a school for children with disabilities. Burt Lancaster is the head and Judy Garland a new teacher. Cassavetes handles everything with such patient grace that some scenes almost feel documentary-like. This certainly isn’t a great film, but it isn’t a failure either. Sony owns the rights and nothing’s been released on DVD in R1. I think there’s an out of print French edition where it’s paired with Love Streams.

Monday May 18

10:15 AM Rain or Shine (Capra, 1930) - BW-88 mins. - An incredible week for birthdays starts with a day’s worth of films by Frank Capra. I’ve mentioned them before, but the Stanwyck films he did (except Bitter Tea of General Yen) which aren’t available in R1 are on today’s schedule. I’m less familiar with this comedy, based on a play by the actor James Gleason and with no major stars in the cast. In it, a girl (Joan Peers) inherits a circus which struggles financially. Joe Cook plays the circus manager who tries to help out by putting on a one-man show. Columbia was behind this movie just like it was the Capra-Stanwyck pictures. Rain or Shine is not available on DVD (and somewhat rare it seems).

8:00 PM Penthouse (Van Dyke, 1933) - BW-89 mins.- Oh boy, oh boy, it’s Myrna Loy. This has Myrna’s frequent director W.S. Van Dyke and was released a year prior to The Thin Man establishing her as a comedic actress. The MGM production is set in the criminal underbelly and stars Warner Baxter as a lawyer for the defense. In addition to Loy and Nat Pendleton as a gangster, Mae Clarke also appears, elevating it to probably my most anticipated showing of the week. Warner Bros. controls. Nothing on the DVD front.

9:45 PM When Ladies Meet (Beaumont, 1933) - BW-85 mins. - Here we get Myrna again, also Robert Montgomery again, and Ann Harding. Loy is a novelist with a thing for her publisher (Frank Morgan). Montgomery, who has an interest in Loy, sets up a blind meeting between her and the publisher’s wife (Harding). It seems a bit of a stretch to see Morgan as married to Harding and pined over by Loy, but these things happen I guess. Another for MGM, also not on DVD.

Tuesday May 19

8:00 AM Speed (Marin, 1936) - BW-70 mins. - Rarely mentioned or seen, this was Jimmy Stewart’s first starring role in the movies. He plays a car tester for an automobile company with an interest in Wendy Barrie’s character. Una Merkel and Ted Healy are part of the supporting cast. The short little picture was done for MGM. Rights holder Warner Bros. hasn’t let it out of the vault thus far.

8:00 PM The Lawless (Losey, 1950) - BW-82 mins. - Director Joseph Losey’s second film, after The Boy with the Green Hair, and this one stars MacDonald Carey, Gail Russell and Lee Patrick. It’s being shown as part of the Latino Images in Film tribute, appropriate since the plot involves Carey’s newspaper editor taking up the cause of the mostly Mexican fruit pickers in California. The movie was released originally by Paramount. I’m not sure whether the rights are still with that studio and I don’t know of a DVD release (though it’s possible one exists somewhere since Losey is generally more respected outside of the U.S.). Trial, starring Glenn Ford and an Oscar-nominated Arthur Kennedy follows.

Wednesday May 20

10:00 PM Harry in Your Pocket (Geller, 1973) - C-103 mins. - James Stewart films take up the entire day to honor the 101st anniversary of his birth. The films shown are good ones, but nothing out of the ordinary. Less expected is TCM’s night of films starring Michael Sarrazin. If you live long enough you’ll see just about anything. This one sounds sort of interesting and has James Coburn as the lead, a pickpocket who takes Sarrazin under his wing. Trish Van Devere is also in the cast. Coburn doesn’t really get his due but I almost always find him to be an agreeable presence. This movie isn’t on DVD in R1. I believe MGM might have the rights. The Robert Mulligan-directed The Pursuit of Happiness, also with Sarrazin, airs later in the night at 2:15 AM.

Thursday May 21

7:15 AM The Big House (Hill, 1930) - BW-87 mins. - Here’s the Montgomery day, honoring 105 years since his birth. The Big House did well at the Oscars, earning a nomination for Wallace Beery and as Best Picture. Chester Morris plays a convict who falls for Montgomery’s sister Leila Hyams (changed from the original relationship where the two were instead married) after breaking out. When Morris is recaptured, another escape attempt is planned. Warner recently put the MGM picture in its made-on-demand Archive collection. How does the unrestored DVD-R image purchasable for $20 look? Judging from the DVD Beaver review, somewhat lousy. The TCM showing will be almost certainly identical.

Friday May 22

6:30 AM Friends and Lovers (Schertzinger, 1931) - BW-68 mins. - I looked at the cast for this and thought it was immediately worthwhile. There’s Adolphe Menjou, Lili Damita, birthday boy Laurence Olivier, Erich von Stroheim, and Hugh Herbert. Anything with Olivier prior to Wuthering Heights seems forgotten and von Stroheim always adds an interesting layer to things. The latter is married to Damita, with both Menjou and Olivier, British Army officers in India, also taken with her. Made for RKO and now likely to be a Warner Bros. property, the film isn’t on DVD in R1.


1. John Hodson - May 18, 2009

Re; A Child is Waiting, there is an Australian release on the Shock label, and the film was passed by the BBFC on behalf of Optimum last month, so a UK release is in the offing.

2. Steve-O - May 21, 2009

Penthouse: you will NOT be disappointed. I love that little movie! I’m curious to see what you think.

3. clydefro - May 21, 2009

Thanks Steve (you too John). I’ve got Penthouse on the recorder but did watch When Ladies Meet, which wasn’t Loy’s finest. She’s in over her head against a charming Montgomery, the typically natural Ann Harding and Alice Brady’s scenery chewing hysterics often while wearing a top that leaves little to the imagination!

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