Saturday, December 25, 2010

This week on... TCM (December 26 - January 1)

Wait, January 1?! That has to be an error! TCM is packed to the gills with great entertainment this last week of the year.

Sunday, December 26 (theme: children's live-action movies)
The Love Bug (1968) 2:15 PM
The Parent Trap (1961) 4:15 PM - Hayley Mills! ... and Hayley Mills!! Let's get together, yeah yeah yeah!
The Age of Believing: The Disney Live Action Classics (2008 documentary) 6:30 PM
Escape To Witch Mountain (1975) 8:00 PM - With Eddie Albert and Ray Milland
Return From Witch Mountain (1978) 10:00 PM - All-star sequel to Escape To Witch Mountain with Bette Davis and Christopher Lee
The Wizard Of Oz (1925) 12:00 AM - That's the 1925 version! Not a thing like the 1939 version.
The Red Balloon (1956) 1:15 AM
The Bicycle Thief (1948) 2:00 AM - Vittorio de Sica classic

Monday, December 27 [note: TCM announced that they would air a Blake Edwards tribute on this date, so check your guide.]
Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) 7:45 AM - I don't know who's watching movies at 7:45 am, but this is a good one. And it has a cool Duke Ellington soundtrack!
Solaris (1972) 1:45 AM - The Tarkovskiy original

Tuesday, December 28
Coma (1978) 4:45 AM
Holiday (1938) 4:00 PM - That other movie with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant (my favorite screwball comedy pairing!)

Wednesday, December 29
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) 8:00 PM - Apparently, a remake is in preproduction for next year.
The Man In The White Suit (1951) 10:30 PM
The Ladykillers (1955) 12:00 AM
Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949) 1:45 AM

Thursday, December 30 (theme: Mickey Rooney)
Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961) 11:00 PM
The Comic (1969) 1:00 AM - With Dick Van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Cornel Wilde.. directed by Carl Reiner
Pulp (1972) 3:00 AM - With Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney. It's hard to tell them apart!

Friday, December 31 (theme: Madcap comedies -- Cary Grant screwball comedies and Marx Bros)
Bringing Up Baby (1938) 6:00 AM :-( - One of my favorite movies of all-time. 6:00 AM.. That's criminal!
My Favorite Wife (1940) 8:00 AM :-( - Another great Cary Grant comedy with Irene Dunne (also recommended: The Awful Truth)
The Philadelphia Story (1940) 9:30 AM :-(
Arsenic And Old Lace (1944) 1:45 PM
The Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer (1947) 3:45 PM
North By Northwest (1959) 5:30 PM
Animal Crackers (1930) 8:00 PM
Monkey Business (1931) 9:45 PM
Horse Feathers (1932) 11:15 PM
Duck Soup (1933) 12:30 PM
A Night At The Opera (1935) 1:45 AM
A Day At The Races (1937) 3:30 AM

Saturday, January 1
Having Wonderful Time (1938) 7:00 AM
Swing Time (1936) 8:30 AM
Classic March Of Time newsreels from the 1940s 2:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Hoedown

Father Christmas, give us some money! Don't mess around with those silly toys! TCM's Movie Morlocks blog puts the M in merry with a holiday post about Peter Lorre. Sure, Peter Lorre is probably not the first actor you think of when you think of wintery movies, but there are some nice seasonal morsels, including a picture of his personal 1937 Christmas card!

And, here is my personal 2010 holiday card to all my friends and readers. Photo is from Things To Make For Christmas (Fawcett Publications, 1965), which I have been highlighting this month at Curly Wurly and has been expertly handcolored by your humble author (and, clearly, design guru). The recipe can be found at the original post, and I want to be contacted immediately if anyone ever recreates this beauty!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This week on... TCM (December 19-25)

Sunday, December 19
Top Hat (1935) 6:30 AM
The Major And The Minor (1942) 4:30 PM - The premise of this Billy Wilder movie (starring Ray Milland and Ginger Rogers) seems pretty bad, but it was surprisingly entertaining.
The Mating Game (1959) 6:15 PM
Grease (1978) 8:00 PM - I know it's the word and all, but it's also on other cable channels every night.
Orpheus (1949) 3:00 AM - Jean Cocteau with Jean Marais

Monday, December 20
A Shot In The Dark (1964) 11:00 AM - Very appropriate considering Blake Edwards' recent passing (apparently TCM will have special programming on December 27 to honor Blake Edwards).
The Odd Couple (1968) 6:00 PM
8 1/2 (1963) 2:00 AM - Marcello!

Tuesday, December 21
Wait Until Dark (1967) 6:30 AM - Bad time, great movie.
Swing Time (1936) 10:00 PM
The Thin Man (1934) 12:00 AM

Friday, December 24
The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) 2:00 PM
The Bishop's Wife (1947) 8:00 PM
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) 2:00 AM
Bell, Book And Candle (1959) 4:00 AM

Saturday, December 25
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966) 10:30 PM
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) - Interesting choices for Christmas movies! At least, your family might seem normal after tonight.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This week on... TCM (December 12 - 18)

Sunday, December 12
Gigi (1958) 5:30 AM
There Goes My Heart (1938) 8:45 AM
Annie Hall (1977) 6:15 PM
Too Bad She's Bad (1954) 4:15 AM - Too bad this Sophia Loren/Marcello Mastroianni movie is on at 4:00 AM!

Monday, December 13 (Moguls & Movie Stars and complementary films)
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: The Attack Of The Small Screens (episode 6) 7:00 PM
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: Fade Out, Fade In (episode 7) 8:00 PM (and again at 11:00 PM) - Last episode already?!
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967) 9:00 PM - I always get this one confused with The Man Who Came To Dinner. Anyway, why would you want to have dinner with anyone besides Wallace Shawn?
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962) 12:00 AM - I get this one confused with Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? I'm not sure which one is scarier!

Tuesday, December 14 (theme: Liza!)
Sweet Bird Of Youth (1962) 3:00 PM - Paul Newman looking good in this Tennessee Williams adaptation
BUtterfield 8 (1960) 5:15 PM
Private Screenings: Liza Minnelli (interview with Robert Osborne) 8:00 PM (and again at 3:00 AM)
Cabaret (1972) 9:00 PM - Eek. Creepiest Sally Bowles ever. At least Michael York is in this!
A Matter Of Time (1976) 11:15 PM
Stepping Out (1991) 1:00 AM - Finally! Liza Minnelli and Shelley Winters together!

Wednesday, December 15
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966) 1:15 AM - Clearly, it's a week of painful talkie movies on TCM.

Friday, December 17
Tea For Two (1950) 2:15 PM
By The Light Of The Silvery Moon (1953) 4:00 PM - Another Doris Day/Gordon MacRae musical
Black Christmas (1974) 2:00 AM
Santa Claus Conquers The Martians (1964) 3:45 AM - Who'd want to watch this without a bunch of wise-cracking bots?

Saturday, December 18
Zebra In The Kitchen (1965) 8:30 AM - Before there was Macaulay Culkin, there was Jay North.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This week on... TCM (December 5 - 11)

It looks like TCM is pulling out a lot of oft-shown movies for the last month of 2010. I have to say, it's kind of a disappointing schedule for the end of the year. The best line-up is between December 26 and January 1, including a Marx Bros. marathon and some trusty musicals. Still, the next two weeks sees us through to the end of the inspired Moguls & Movie Stars series.

Sunday, December 5
The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) 10:30 PM

Monday, December 6 (Moguls & Movie Stars and complementary films)
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: Warriors & Peace Makers (episode 5) 7:00 PM
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: The Attack Of The Small Screens (episode 6) 8:00 PM (and again at 11:00 PM)
A Face In The Crowd (1957) 12:00 AM
Sweet Smell Of Success (1957) 2:15 AM

Tuesday, December 7
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 4:00 AM

Wednesday, December 8
The Heiress (1949) 10:45 AM
West Side Story (1961) 2:30 PM
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: The Attack Of The Small Screens (episode 6) 10:00 PM
Singin' In The Rain (1952) 11:15 PM
North By Northwest (1959) 1:15 AM

Thursday, December 9 (theme: Mickey Rooney)
Babes In Arms (1939) 9:30 PM
Strike Up The Band (1940) 11:15 PM
Babes On Broadway (1941) 1:30 AM
Girl Crazy (1943) 3:45 AM

Friday, December 10
Words And Music (1948) 5:30 AM - Rodgers and Hart musical biopic
The Talk Of The Town (1942) 10:00 AM
Operation Petticoat (1959) 12:00 PM
The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) 11:30 PM
The 5,000 Fingers Of Dr. T (1953) 3:45 AM - This is a really neat family-friendly movie

Saturday, December 11 (theme: Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli movies hosted by Liza!)
Bells Are Ringing (1960) 6:00 AM - It has the Midas Touch, the Mighty Midas Touch!
Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) 8:00 PM
Private Screenings: Liza Minnelli (interview with Robert Osborne) 10:00 PM (and again at 2:30 AM)
The Clock (1945) 11:00 PM
The Pirate (1948) 12:45 AM
An American In Paris (1951) 3:30 AM

Friday, December 3, 2010

On The Television Auction Block

Auction and collectible shows are the hottest thing on cable right now. While hit shows like Antiques Roadshow [2] and the British series Bargain Hunt [2] and Cash In The Attic have been delighting arm chair collectors and art aficionados for over a decade, they have often appealed more to people with an eye for rococo antiques of the 'don't touch' variety. Not to suggest that all Antiques Roadshow fans are stodgy snobs who prefer ugly paintings, overly ornate porcelainware, and early American furnishings gushed over by the hunky Keno brothers! But this new breed of collectible show showcases more in the way of ooooh-inspiring pop culture and historical artifacts than its antecedents.

This new spate of collectible series is as much reality tv (as in: you can't believe what you're seeing is actually real) as it is about antiques and collectibles. And, who knows, when the credits begin to roll, a newly rich couple might strike up a pitch-perfect rendition of 'We're In The Money' to an approving panel of celebrity judges, landing the couple on Broadway starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest smash called...

Okay, okay I'm getting ahead of myself here. Still, I suppose the moral of the story is that you are undoubtedly sitting on a priceless treasure trove, so why not wrench apart old family photos to double-check if there's an extra copy of the Declaration of Independence or a real Van Gogh under there (or, maybe just Abraham Lincoln's grocery shopping list)? And, when you inevitably find the Fabargé egg hidden in the last dimple of the egg carton, rush it on over to your friendly neighborhood auction house where you will get top dollar for your accidental find. Before you quit your job and move to your own private island, however, you may want to watch one or two of these super-hot auction shows for inspiration, but.. they're on every channel, they're all on at the same time, and they all have similar generic-sounding names. There are no less than half a dozen them, so it's impossible to remember if the one you liked last week was Auction Kings, Auction Hunters, or Auction Circus. How will you know which one is the real diamond? Let me root out my loupe, and I'll tell you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

* Pop Culture Gift Guide 2010 *

The joys of the holiday season are suddenly upon us, and, if you, too, have been taken off guard by the closeness of those dreaded gift-giving holidays, you might be turning to the plethora of online gift guides that many websites are compiling. I thought I would try my hand at a very short, concise gift guide this year. Unfortunately, I was having too much fun doing my research, and I missed Cyber Monday. Also, this list doesn't appear to be short or concise, but it's my hope that it might help clueless pop culture enthusiasts find something of interest. My guide is a bit messy, but it can be divided into one of two ways: recommendations for online stores and specific products OR the classic trio of standard go-tos (DVDs, CDs, and books) and everything else. I've decided to go with the latter as far as a dividing feature. You'll be able to read my DVD/CD/book selections before the fold, and, if you're interested in the rest of the cluttered guide, you can click on the title to access the full post. Onwards!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This week on... TCM (November 28 - December 4)

I can't believe this week is the beginning of the last month of the year. Where does the time go (when you are watching too much tv)? This is an excellent week for TCM movie selections, however, I'm not thrilled about the scheduled times. Still, there are some real gems here. Classic comedies (The Odd Couple, The Great Dictator, A Night At The Opera, and The Thin Man); magnificent musicals (42nd Street, Gold Diggers of 1933); and chilling noirs (The Blue Dahlia, The Thin Man -- That movie is a little of EVERYTHING!). Plus, there's a continuation of TCM's original documentary series uncovering the history of Hollywood, Moguls & Movie Stars. This seven hour series, narrated by Christopher Plummer, is a must-watch. To paraphrase a comment I made over at Retroist, Turner Classic Movies is a channel for movie lovers by movie lovers. What sets it apart from all other movie channels, besides the consistently high quality of everything they do, is that they respect their audience as much as they respect the movies they represent. I get the impression that most channels don't have respect for their audience or their programming. This is why selecting my TCM viewing each week is such a big event!

Sunday, November 28
The Odd Couple (1968) 6:00 PM - The best movie theme tune!
No Orchids For Miss Blandish (1948) 8:00 PM - Controversial British noir
The Criminal (1962) 10:00 PM

Monday, November 29 (Moguls & Movie Stars and complementary films and Busby Berkeley)
Dames (1934) 6:00 AM
Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) 11:30 AM - I think this is the best of the Gold Diggers, although it's 1935 that has Berkeley's masterpiece, 'Lullaby Of Broadway.'
42nd Street (1933) 1:15 PM - One of my favorite musicals!
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: Brother, Can You Spare A Dream? (episode 4) 7:00 PM
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: Warriors & Peace Makers (episode 5) 8:00 PM (and again at 11:00 PM) - This documentary series is MONUMENTAL. It's not to be missed.
The Great Dictator (1940) 12:00 AM

Tuesday, November 30
Hollywood Canteen (1944) 4:30 AM
Good News (1947) 8:00 PM - Musical with Peter Lawford. He's usually just a fella with an umbrella.

Wednesday, December 1 (theme: The history of Hollywood)
Cool Hand Luke (1967) 5:00 PM - It stars Paul Newman, and that's good enough!
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: Warriors & Peace Makers (episode 5) 10:00 PM
Citizen Kane (1941) 11:15 PM
Mildred Pearce (1945) 1:30 AM

Thursday, December 2
Manhattan Melodrama (1934) 3:45 PM - Nick, Nora, and... Gable.

Friday, December 3 (theme: some early morning film noir classics)
Man Hunt (1941) 6:00 AM - I saw the beginning of this Fritz Lang movie over the summer but didn't stay with it. I've regretted that ever since. It's an interesting concept. The movie was made in 1941, and, in the first few minutes of the movie, there's an armed man who happens to witness a vulnerable Hitler on a balcony. He aims at him but doesn't go through with any sort of assassination attempt. I don't know the full plot, but it sounds intriguing considering the year in which the film was released.
Foreign Correspondent (1940) 8:00 AM
The Blue Dahlia (1946) 10:15 AM - This is one of my favorite film noirs!! It's not available in the US. You'll just have to watch it today at this... weird time. (Worst thing is, IMDb has the nerve to show its Region 2 PAL DVD cover instead of just its movie poster! It has NEVER been available as a DVD in the US.)
The Big Clock (1948) 12:00 PM
A Place In The Sun (1951) 3:30 PM - Definitely worth a watch
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) 5:45 - More Mickey Spillane/Mike Hammer mystery
Fitzwilly (1967) 8:00 PM - Dick Van Dyke and Barbara Feldon comedy
Susan Slept Here (1954) 12:00 AM
The Beyond (1983) 2:00 AM - Eew, this looks scary/creepy. It takes place on a Hellmouth.

Saturday, December 4
A Night At The Opera (1935) 7:15 AM
The Thin Man (1934) 6:15 PM - ANOTHER favorite! This is one Dashiell Hammett film that's better than the book upon which it's based.
The Long Night (1947) 12:00 AM

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story

Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story is a 2007 documentary (directed by Jeffery Schwartz) making its debut on the Documentary Film Channel this November. The documentary traces the popularity of the master of 1950s and 1960s schlock horror. He was known for a series of quickly-made, cheap movies with legendary, over-the-top promotional ideas, or gimmicks. It was noted that he was half Alfred Hitchcock and half PT Barnum, a filmmaker and a showman. The gimmicks that became his trademark were as much a draw as the movies themselves. Not only were Castle's movies reviewed, the gimmicks were reviewed. His work, for the most part, was not critically acclaimed, but the films were wildly popular; made money; and, most importantly, made him a known name. William Castle branded himself through his completely off-the-wall promotional style, and his name became as big a box office draw as any famous actor. He was successful, in part, because he engaged the audience and made them part of his movies. Kids especially loved William Castle movies because his gimmicks made movie-going more of a spectacle and a personal experience. Why, surely, there weren't too many directors who had a national fan club (besides George Cukor, whose fans wore badges that averred 'I'm Cuckoo For Cukor!')!

William Castle was a Jewish orphan who, from an early age, longed to be an entertainer. He was a charmer with an inordinate amount of chutzpah and a mind like a sponge. Early in his career, he managed to finagle meetings with several powerful men who contributed to his later success. His first major theater job was with Bela Lugosi, who was then working on Broadway. He was employed in the theater when he impressed another rising star who would end up being one of his greatest influences, Orson Welles. Soon, Castle was ready to move on to Hollywood. Harry Cohn, then president of Columbia Pictures, was known as being a tough and intimidating personality, but he quickly warmed to the likeable Castle and gave him his first job. Castle's beginning in cinema was inauspicious; he was assigned a lot of lightweight, cheap 'b' comedies. Castle wanted to have more artistic control and make a name for himself as an 'a' movie director. He searched for a book to adapt for his first real film and settled on a gripping noir tale called If I Die Before I Wake. This was his discovery, and he was integral to the making of the film. When he presented the idea to the studio as a movie he would like to direct, it was approved, but he was relegated to co-producer. His old friend, Orson Welles, was named director, and the movie became The Lady From Shanghai. Despite the fact that he was disappointed at losing his discovery, working with Welles was an invaluable experience for him as a filmmaker.

But William Castle didn't want to be second-in-command. He still wanted to make a name for himself. One day, he saw a long queue of people waiting to see a French film, Les Diaboliques, a masterpiece of suspense. He watched the audience as closely as the movie, and it occurred to him how much people love the cheap thrill of fear. Castle was driven by his intense desire to entertain, and this was the seed of his signature use of gimmickry to promote his movies.

"Every picture had a gimmick," Castle once said of his films. His first foray into the art of the cheap gimmick was 1958's Macabre wherein the entire audience was covered by a real one million dollar Lloyd's of London insurance policy for Death By Fright. No one collected on the policy, but the gimmick drummed up ticket sales. Next, House On Haunted Hill boasted Emergo; glowing ghosts and skeletons emerged out of the screen and zipped across the theater on wires, much to the delight of theater-goers. Better yet, The Tingler utilized Percepto!, essentially a buzzer that was installed on select theater seats. Fainting and hysterical women were planted in the audience, and, part-way through the movie, it would appear that the projectionist had been attacked by the Tingler as a limp lobster-like shadow would flop across the blank movie screen. As some seats would begin to vibrate, Price's voice would sound over the PA, warning that if the audience didn't scream, the Tingler would get them. The theater would erupt in screams and everyone would have a great time. 13 Ghosts, seen in 'ectoplasmic color', utilized one of the more sophisticated technological advances, Illusion-O, a ghost viewer much like a pair of 3D glasses. Homicidal was Castle's first truly scary movie (some insisted that it was better than Psycho). This movie offered a Fright Break right before the climax scene; if you were too scared to watch the end, you could get a refund, but you'd have to be put to shame in the Coward's Corner first! Mr. Sardonicus was purported to have two endings, and the audience was given a Punishment Poll to determine the fate of the antagonist. No one ever saw the version of the film where Sardonicus lived. Then came Straight-Jacket, written by Robert Bloch, which had the greatest gimmick of all: it starred Joan Crawford.

Despite his success, Castle was inspired by fear of losing his audience. What would be the next great promotional feat? How could he ensure that his films would draw a crowd? And he still longed to be taken seriously as a director. Castle's two greatest disappointments bookended his career. The first was losing control of his first discovery, The Lady Of Shanghai. The second major disappointment came at the end of his career when he discovered another book that he wanted to have full creative control over: Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby. He quickly bought the rights to the book and planned to produce and direct the movie, but, once again, his discovery was handed over to another filmmaker. This time Castle was made producer, and the movie was given to a young director named Roman Polanski. While the success of Rosemary's Baby did give Castle the critical acclaim and the financial comfort that he had hoped to achieve, it was not without hardships. He had strayed from his formulaic gimmickry which had always been done in innocent fun, and this movie seemed to take on a sinister life of its own. It seemed cursed, and the stress of the backlash took its toll on Castle's health and almost ended his career and his life. As America entered a new decade, it was evident that it had grown up, and the jaded public had moved beyond Castle's penchant for schlock. Sure, America still loved to be scared, but now it needed the gruesome Night Of The Living Dead and the even more gruesome Texas Chainsaw Massacre to get its kicks. William Castle's productions were just too naive and too silly to be taken seriously by an American public that had seen too much in such a short time.

Now, all these years later, a whole new generation of theater-goers are discovering just how much fun William Castle films can be. Repertory theaters have shown his movies complete with re-creation of his gimmicks (now that's cooler than Rocky Horror!) much to the delight of the audience proving that William Castle's movies are still a real scream.

Keep checking your tv schedules for the next airing of Spine Tingler! The site currently lists the next airing as Friday, November 26 at 1:00 PM EST.

This week on... TCM (November 21-27)

Sunday, November 21
Suspicion (1941) 4:15 PM
High Society (1956) 6:00 PM - 'Hi, Hi, Hi So-ci.. High So-ci-et-y!' All-star musical remake of The Philadelphia Story with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Celeste Holm (and Louis Armstrong, of course!)
Seconds (1966) 4:00 AM - An intriguing, confusing, bizarre thriller starring Rock Hudson. The story is kind of disturbing and stays with you but may leave you with many questions.

Monday, November 22 (Moguls & Movie Stars and complementary films)
A Night At The Movies: The Suspenseful World Of Thrillers (documentary) 6:00 AM
Kiss Me Deadly (1955) 7:00 AM - A Mickey Spillane-Mike Hammer mystery
The Big Clock (1948) 9:00 AM
That Touch Of Mink (1962) 3:00 PM - A delightful Doris Day/Cary Grant romantic comedy. Watch for the Automat scenes!
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: The Dream Merchants (episode 3) 7:00 PM
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: Brother, Can You Spare A Dream? (episode 4) 8:00 PM (and again at 11:00 PM)
Footlight Parade (1933) 9:00 PM

Tuesday, November 23 (theme: Boris Karloff)
You'll Find Out (1940) 10:45 AM - Kay Kyser meets Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Bela Lugosi in a haunted house? I guess if you watch it, you'll find out!
The Body Snatcher (1945) 1:45 PM - Robert Louis Stevenson's Body Snatcher with the gruesome twosome, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. They just snatch, they don't invade!
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) 4:30 PM - It would be better if it were Dick Van Dyke meeting Gruesome (Karloff). My new dream job is 'plainclothesman'.
The Terror (1963) 5:45 PM - This is Roger Corman's The Terror, which could, potentially be quite terrible. Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson star.
12 Angry Men (1957) 2:00 AM - Excellent, excellent, excellent movie.

Wednesday, November 24 (theme: Marjorie Main and the history of Hollywood)
Mrs. O'Malley And Mr. Malone (1950) 5:15 PM - Marjorie Main stars in this comedic whodunit
It Happened One Night (1934) 8:00 PM - A must-watch!
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: Brother, Can You Spare A Dream? (episode 4) 10:00 PM
Duck Soup (1933) 11:15 PM
Top Hat (1935) 12:30 AM

Thursday, November 25
Bette Davis: The Benevolent Volcano (1984 documentary) 7:15 AM
It Happened Tomorrow (1944) 3:15 PM - Sequel to It Happened One Night? (Obviously, no)
My Favorite Brunette (1947) 6:30 PM

Friday, November 26 (theme: Hitchcock)
The Bribe (1949) 9:15 AM
Foreign Correspondent (1940) 11:00 AM
Strangers On A Train (1951) 1:00 PM - One of the best Hitchcocks
Dial M For Murder (1954) 2:45 PM
To Catch A Thief (1955) 4:45 PM
The Dick Cavett Show: Alfred Hitchcock (June 8, 1972) 6:45 PM
Burn! (1969) 1:00 AM - aka Queimada. It stars Marlon Brando.

Saturday, November 27 (theme: fading stars?)
Limelight (1952) 8:15 AM
A Star Is Born (1954) 8:00 PM
Funny Girl (1968) 11:15 PM

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fluorescerama - The Blue Dahlia (1946)

"It takes a lot of lights to make a city, doesn't it?"

In honor of Veronica Lake's birthday, I present one of my favorite film noirs. The Blue Dahlia was the first screenplay Raymond Chandler wrote which wasn't based on a published novel or story, and according to this TCM article, it's a small miracle that the film was ever completed. I'm thankful that it was because it's fantastic. It's one of those rare noirs that succeeds both in story and atmosphere. It oozes danger and glamour to shadowy perfection yet its plot isn't too convoluted to cause confusion. It, also, has an interesting cast of characters that sets this movie apart from more generic film noir fare.

In the film, Johnny (Alan Ladd) returns from the war only to discover that the life he left behind no longer exists. While he was gone, Johnny's wife became the toast of a bunch of rowdy revelers, and she became especially friendly with the owner of The Blue Dahlia nightclub. Johnny walks out soon after discovering his wife's infidelity. But, was he the last one to see her alive?

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake still from This Gun For Hire

Veronica Lake is the enigmatic Joyce who seems to materialize from the bright light of a street lamp like a guardian angel. In fact, she has the face of an angel and the gams of a she-devil! Joyce seems to be there whenever Johnny turns around. Who is she and how does she seem to know who he is?

William Bendix, one of Johnny's ex-GI friends (the other one is the Beaver's father, Hugh Beaumont!), steals every scene as the slightly manic, yet lovably loyal, Buzz. In fact, he seems a little too invested in Johnny's happiness. Maybe he was the last one to pay Johnny's wife a visit? Or maybe he just wants a little quiet. No more of that monkey music!!

Studio still from The Blue Dahlia

Veronica Lake and friend

The Blue Dahlia is, unfortunately, not available on DVD. It's been on TCM several times in the past year -- It looks like they have it on the schedule for Friday, December 3 (10:15 AM EST). Keep checking Paramount's archives to see if they ever release it (or make it available by request). [Also of interest: Doctor Macro's collection of the Alan Ladd old-time radio show, Box 13]

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This week on... TCM (November 14-20)

Sunday, November 14 (tribute to the Academy Film Archive)
I Confess (1953) 12:00 PM - Montgomery Clift and Karl Malden star in this Hitchcock film
Mr. Holland's Opus (1995) 5:30 PM
Night Tide (1961) 8:00 PM - A recently-restored and oddly-premised Dennis Hopper film

Monday, November 15 (Moguls & Movie Stars and complementary silent films)
The Big Heat (1953) 3:45 PM
The Lady From Shanghai (1948) 5:30 PM - According to Spine Tingler!, a fantastic documentary about William Castle, Castle discovered the book that became this film and wanted to make it himself, but it was given to Orson Welles.
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: The Birth Of Hollywood (episode 2) 7:00 PM
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: The Dream Merchants (episode 3) 8:00 PM (and again at 11:00 PM)

Tuesday, November 16 (Don Knotts)
Sleeper (1973) 2:30 PM
The Ghost And Mr. Chicken (1966) 8:00 PM - Don Knotts and Dick Sargent! Yes, The Second Dagwood Stephens.
The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975) 10:00 PM - Bill Bixby, Don Knotts, and Tim Conway!
No Time For Sergeants (1958) 2:00 AM

Wednesday, November 17 (The History Of Hollywood - silent greats)
Arsene Lupin (1932) 6:00 AM
The Kid (1921) 8:00 PM - Charlie Chaplin
The Pilgrim (1923) 9:00 PM - Charlie Chaplin
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History of Hollywood: The Dream Merchants (episode 3) 10:00 PM
Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) 11:45 PM - Buster Keaton
Safety Last! (1923) 1:00 AM - Harold Lloyd
It (1927) 2:30 AM - Clara Bow and Pennywise had the same stylists.
Show People (1928) 4:00 AM

Friday, November 19
Two Girls And A Sailor (1944) 8:30 AM
Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975) 12:00 AM
Daughter Of Horror (1957) 2:00 AM - Dementia, a film released two years earlier with no dialogue, re-cut with narration by Ed McMahon! You, too, may already be a winner!

Saturday, November 20
Ziegfeld Girl (1941) 6:00 AM - Look at this beautiful picture of Hedy Lamarr from this Busby Berkeley musical! Also featuring Jimmy Stewart, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Tony Martin.
Up The River (1930) 10:00 PM

Saturday, November 6, 2010

This week on... TCM (November 7-13)

So many choices...

Sunday, November 7 (theme: Fritz Lang)
Till The Clouds Roll By (1946) 6:00 AM
The Tender Trap (1955) 12:00 PM
The Wrong Man (1956) 2:00 PM - Henry Fonda stars in this Hitchcock film based on a true story
A Shot In The Dark (1964) 4:00 PM - Inspector Clouseau returns
Metropolis (1927) 8:00 PM - This is the newest restoration
Metropolis Refound (2010) 11:00 PM - Documentary about the restoration
M (1931) 2:30 AM - The classic Peter Lorre/Fritz Lang movie

Monday, November 8 (Moguls & Movie Stars and complementary silent films)
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History Of Hollywood: Peepshow Pioneers (episode 1) 7:00 PM - The first episode was so good, it gave me chills. I think that bodes well for the rest of the series.
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History Of Hollywood: The Birth Of Hollywood (episode 2) 8:00 PM (repeat at 11:00 PM)
The Birth Of A Nation (1915) 12:15 AM

Tuesday, November 9 (Michael J. Fox's picks)
The Penguin Pool Murder (1932) 12:00 PM - I just like the idea of a murder mystery in an aquarium.
Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964) 8:00 PM - I'm still on the fence about this one.
The Parallax View (1974) 12:00 AM
Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949) 2:00 AM - This one stars Hayley Mills... and Hayley Mills! Oh wait, that's another movie...

Wednesday, November 10 (theme: The History Of Hollywood - silent movies)
Now, Voyager (1942) 1:30 PM
Mr. Skeffington (1944) 3:30 PM
The Immigrant (1917) 8:00 PM (45 mins) - Charlie Chaplin
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History Of Hollywood: The Birth Of Hollywood (episode 2) 10:00 PM

Thursday, November 11 (theme: Ava Gardner)
Crack-Up (1946) 10:45 AM
The Woman On The Beach (1947) 5:30 PM
Mogambo (1953) 8:00 PM
The Barefoot Contessa (1954) 10:00 PM
The Little Hut (1957) 2:15 AM

Friday, November 12 (theme: Gordon McRae)
Du Barry Was A Lady (1943) 11:30 AM - Gene Kelly, Lucille Ball, and Red Skelton
Raffles (1930) 2:30 PM
The Swan (1956) 6:00 PM
Tea For Two (1950) 8:00 PM
The Daughter Of Rosie O'Grady (1950) 9:45 PM
Oklahoma! (1955) 11:45 PM
Galaxy Of Terror (1981) 2:15 AM - This sci-fi/horror b-movie stars Erin Moran and Ray Walston!

Saturday, November 13 (Teresa Wright)
The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) 8:00 PM

Sunday, October 31, 2010

This week on TCM... (October 31 - November 6)

Sunday, October 31 (Happy Halloween!)
The Tingler (1959) 3:00 PM
House Of Wax (1953) 6:15 PM
House On Haunted Hill (1959) 8:00 PM
The Haunting (1963) 9:30 PM
Poltergeist (1982) 11:30 PM

Monday, November 1 - This is the beginning of TCM's Moguls & Movie Stars documentary series that traces the history of cinematography and Hollywood. This series -- several years in the making -- promises to be completely unique in its scope, and it seems like TCM's evening schedule is meant to complement the documentary's content.
Moguls & Movie Stars, A History Of Hollywood: Peepshow Pioneers 8:00 PM (reshown at 11:00 PM and several times throughout the week)
The Films Of Thomas Edison (1893) 9:00 PM
D.W. Griffith With Biograph (1909) 12:05 AM
The Films of Georges Melies (1896) 2:10 AM

Wednesday, November 3
Nickelodeon (1976) 11:15 PM
When Comedy Was King (1959) 1:15 AM 'A compilation of funny moments from top comedians of the silent era'

Thursday, November 4
Alfie (1966) 11:30 AM - What's it all about, Alfie?
The Killers (1946) 8:00 PM - Beginning of the Ava Gardner month
Show Boat (1951) 12:15 AM

Friday, November 5
The Most Dangerous Game (1932) 2:30 PM
Foreign Correspondent (1940) 3:45 PM
The Palm Beach Story (1942) 6:00 PM

Saturday, November 6
Remember? (1939) 9:00 AM - This one sounds kind of intriguing.
Dial M For Murder (1954) 6:00 PM
Mutiny On The Bounty (1962) 8:00 PM - I can't actually recommend this beyond the fact that Marlon Brando is in it.

On a side note, I'm really enjoying the two new auction shows, Auction Kings (Tuesdays on Discovery) and Hollywood Treasure (Wednesdays on Syfy) [anytime on Hulu]. Both shows are absorbing and feature a wide range of interesting pop culture and historical collectibles. Both shows might be interesting to fans of Antiques Roadshow. The best part is, neither show has irritating personalities that detract from the curiosities and memorabilia (unlike, say, Pawn Stars and American Pickers). Also, now I want to work in an auction house.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The United Monster Talent Agency

The premise is every film buff's dream come true: what if fantastical cinema sights were, in fact, real? More specifically, what if the classic Universal Monsters -- Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and the Creature of the Black Lagoon -- weren't all makeup and special effects but real, live, actual creatures trying to make it in Hollywood? Well, first of all, they're going to need a (brave) agent! And so begins the faux promo for The United Monster Talent Agency, an immaculately-executed eight minute film by Greg Nicotero. The short film is a clever homage to the beloved 1950s institution and is sure to delight fans of older movies, and, of course, monster movies, in particular. Nicotero, a well-respected special effects artist, is especially known for his impressively gory zombie effects (see AMC's The Walking Dead airing on Halloween).

The United Monster Talent Agency is a truly inspired short that should be taking the internet by storm! Click on over to AMC's website to read more about it and watch this sweet Halloween treat!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This week on... TCM (October 24-30)

Sunday, October 24
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 12:00 PM - Really worth watching
The Pleasure Seekers (1964) 8:00 PM
Nosferatu (1922) 12:00 AM
Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey (1932) 2:00 AM
The Return Of The Vampire (1944) 3:30 AM

Monday, October 25
Summertime (1955) 8:15 AM - Once again, this is a lovely Katharine Hepburn movie
Hollywood Hotel (1937) 1:15 AM - 'Hooray For Hollywood'!
42nd Street (1933) 3:15 AM - One of the best musicals ever! Now opening in Philadelphia, P.U. Too bad this is on so late.

Tuesday, October 26
There Goes My Heart (1938) 10:15 PM - This is said to be a semi-screwball comedy starring Frederic March.

Wednesday, October 27
Lucky Partners (1940) 11:15 AM - A cute Ginger Rodgers movie with Ronald Colman
Mildred Pierce (1945) 6:00 PM
The Lady Eve (1941) 8:00 PM
Sweet Smell Of Success (1957) 10:00 PM - Tony 'Tony From The Movies' Curtis and Burt Lancaster
Gold Diggers Of 1933 (1933) 1:15 AM - Midweek Busby Berkeley to go with the earlier pair of Berkeley movies
Gold Diggers Of 1935 (1935) 3:00 AM - Not as good as Gold Diggers Of 1933 but THIS one has Berkeley's masterpiece, 'Lullabye of Broadway.'

Thursday, October 28 (theme: Atmospheric Thrillers)
Gold Diggers Of 1937 (1936) 4:45 AM - I've never seen this one!
Dead Of The Night (1945) 8:00 PM
Rebecca (1940) 10:00 PM - I'm reading this right now (well, sort of)!

Friday, October 29 (It's Fright (Day and) Night! + Hammer Horror and a few Bela Lugosi titles)
Doctor X (1932) 6:00 AM - Start your day the right way: with cannibals!
The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) 7:30 AM
The Vampire Bat (1933) 9:00 AM
The Corpse Vanishes (1942) 1:00 PM
The Devil Bat 2:15 PM
White Zombie (1932) 3:30 PM
Curse Of The Demon (1958) 6:00 PM

Saturday, October 30
The Walking Dead (1936) 9:15 AM
13 Ghosts (1960) 1:30 PM
Mr. Sardonicus (1961) 4:30 PM - The face on this guy will stay with you for a long time!
Strait-Jacket (1964) 6:15 PM
Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962) 10:15 PM - Really good
Mad Love (1935) 12:45 AM - Peter Lorre!
Cat People (1942) 2:00 AM - I'm a cat person, so I think this is the movie for me!

Elsewhere on the TV dial, I've been enjoying this season of The Big Bang Theory so far, and 30 Rock has been especially good. Mondays through Thursdays have been spent watching the new channel, the Hub, especially Family Ties, The Wonder Years (just as wonderful as I remember it being!), Happy Days, and Laverne & Shirley. On Fridays, I've been tuning in to IFC to watch Todd Margaret and Freaks And Geeks (goes well with The Wonder Years). Then there's Cash Cab on the Discovery Channel. Also, Cartoon Network has a new fifteen minute show called MAD based on the classic humor magazine. I've watched a few episodes and, as a former MAD Magazine reader, I can say that it lives up to the high standards of its namesake!

Also, I got to see the film preservation documentary, Keepers Of The Frame again (check the Documentary Film Channel to see when it'll be on next). It was just as stirring the second time around. Another worthwhile documentary I've been watching is Richard Schickel's You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story which is currently airing on PBS' The American Masters. The first episode had me on the edge of my seat! (Note: The American Masters will soon be airing the LENNONYC documentary; don't miss it! The film premieres nationally Monday, November 22 at 9:00 PM on PBS)

I'm excited about a new series that airs on Tuesdays on the Discovery Channel called Auction Kings. Hopefully, it'll be as good as the commercial makes it seem.. I had high hopes for Pawn Stars and American Pickers, but I can't stand the people on the show, so I can't bring myself to watch them again.

IFC will be airing the British mini-series, The Dead Set which is apparently Big Brother UK meets 28 Days Later. It looks pretty gory and it has Davina McCall. It'd be better if it were Celebrity Big Brother and if it starred, say Bez and Pete Doherty, who already look like walking zombies.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Too Many Pop Culture Links To Twitter

New Releases
An updated edition of David Sedaris' Holidays On Ice with six new stories is now available in hardcover. From the Amazon page: 'This updated version includes The Monster Mash, poached from When You Are Engulfed..., in which Sedaris spends Halloween at the morgue; and The Cow and the Turkey, a new story featuring the Secret Santa woes of barnyard animals. Longtime fans will be happy to have all Sedaris's holiday stories in one volume, and those who've managed to miss the literary funny-man couldn't get a better gift.' This is also available as an unabridged cd. His latest book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, which I mentioned in this post, is a new release. [Here is a new interview with David Sedaris at the Guardian -- I thought I was the only one who wanted to see what Hugh looks like!]

Amy Sedaris' Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People will be the best book of the year, I should think. I mentioned it in this post, as well. This book will be released on November 2, 2010.

Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Forrester/Crow of MST3k, amongst other things) has a new book, Silly Rhymes For Belligerent Children, which will be available in the not-too-distant future is available through his website for $19.99 (PayPal). I haven't seen inside the book, but all indications are it's very much in the style of Edward Gorey. It features Trace's poems for the morbid child and illustrations by Len Peralta. If 'Weird Al' likes it, you will, too!

A Flash-based interactive map of Springfield boasts more than 180 screenshots from The Simpsons. Now you don't need to turn to Mapquest to find Costington's (Yeeeesssss...) and The Singing Sirloin! Now, if only you could figure out what state all these landmarks are in...

Never-before-seen footage of Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in Back To The Future.. That guy is everywhere!

25 Classic Anti-drug PSAs with Pee-Wee Herman, McGruff the Crime Dog, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Nancy Reagan!

A pictorial chronology of Clue(do) suspect card designs

Abe Books' Weird Book room, including Weird Cookbooks [also see Odd Books]

I loved this Gen Xtinct post about dead stores. What's your favorite dead store? Mine's Best!

Another great post at DesignCrave: 101 vintage campy horror movie posters! Diana Cook is responsible for all the posts that I've really enjoyed, including Boardwalk Empire: Vintage Atlantic City Design, Land (Line) of The Lost: Vintage Telephones, and 101 Vintage Lunch Box Designs.

I'm excited to see that the He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special is on DVD. That's a holiday classic! I posted an advertisement for the 1987 special on Flickr.

Flickr photos
Curly Wurly special Halloween package - Creepywurly Ghost Mobile give-away; the mobile; [photos by Jason Liebig]

Adorable Clancy's Potato Snack Ghosts - packaging and the chips themselves. I wouldn't mind being haunted by them! [photos by Neato Coolville and product, possibly, available at Aldi's]

Fluorescerama: Race With The Devil (1975)

Satanists: something new for stoners to be paranoid about.

In the 1975 (oc)cult classic, Race With The Devil, Peter Fonda dusts off his persona of expressionless counter cultural type who takes to the open road. This time around he has three hapless companions, his friend and their wives (one is Loretta Swit!), who plan to go camping in their RV trailer. Things start to go awry when Fonda and his pal witness what, at first glance, appears to be an innocent drunken orgy but quickly turns sinister when they're spotted just after the crowd starts in on the human sacrifice.

Unfortunately, from that point on, they pick up something even worse than Jack Nicholson: every single Satanist in Texas. And, believe me, there's a lot more than you'd expect. The towns seem overrun with them, and they have some kind of a communication system that puts the internet to shame. Faster than you can say 'text message,' crooked mechanics, sheriffs, and librarians track their every move and seem to be tipping off a mobile mob of Satanists hellbent on snuffing out the outsiders before they find someone who doesn't have sympathy for the devil. However, time is on the side of Satan because, apparently, that hypothetical person is well outside state lines, and Texas is very large indeed. My favorite part of this cheesy chiller is when the two airhead wives take a demonic text out of the library to try to get some answers!

This movie poses the question: can four mellow hippies in an equally sluggish RV outrun the Satanists who are out for their blood? What's incredible is that the Satanists display an admirable work ethic as they attempt to catch up to the gang. Like, be cool, man, I won't give away the conclusion to this blazing suspense story, but if you're a fan of trashy b-movies, this one will have you on the edge of your bean bag chair (or, well, propped up uncomfortably). Race With The Devil is a great lesser-known addition to your Halloween scare-a-thon!

original theatrical trailer
at IMDb
at Wikipedia

(Incidentally, after having a sort of mid-life crisis, Jarvis Cocker of the greatest Britpop band, Pulp, completely styled himself after Peter Fonda. They're practically identical, and that in itself is chilling.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

This week on... TCM (October 18-23)

There were a few days that I didn't see anything of interest, but some of the other nights are packed with good stuff!

Monday, October 18
The Heiress (1949) 4:00 PM - Again. It's a good movie, though, so if you haven't seen it before, it's worth watching. Montgomery Clift is in it!
Oliver! (1968) 8:00 PM - Food, glorious food!
The Lady From Shanghai (1948) 3:15 AM - Since I loved the last two Orson Welles movies I watched, I'm disappointed this one is on so late!

Wednesday, October 20
Arsenic And Old Lace (1944) 11:45 AM - One of my favorites! It's a perfect autumn night movie (unfortunately, it's on in the morning), and it's great especially for rainy nights. Cary Grant and Peter Lorre.. and.. isn't that Boris Kar.. no, I guess not!

Thursday, October 21 (theme: Hedy Lamarr)
Algiers (1938) 8:00 PM - Come with me to the Casbah! Features the famous character, Pépé le Moko (played by Charles Boyer in this film).
Ecstasy (1933) 4:00 AM - This is, supposedly, a great arthouse movie, though it is probably better known for being the movie in which Hedy Lamarr appears nude.

Friday, October 22 (themes: Constance Bennett and Hammer Horror)
Topper (1937) 11:45 AM - I think this is like Beetlejuice.
Topper Takes A Trip (1939) 1:30 PM - A Topper sequel without Cary Grant.
The Unsuspected (1947) 4:45 PM
It Should Happen To You (1954) 6:30 PM - This Jack Lemmon / Judy Holliday romantic comedy is cute!
X The Unknown (1956) 8:00 PM - Radioactive mud-like creatures!
Five Million Years To Earth (1968) 9:30 PM - A Quartermass film!
These Are The Damned (1963) 11:15 PM - Terrible things usually happen in Oliver Reed movies
Night Of The Lepus (1972) 4:15 AM - About the very real threat of killer rabbits

Saturday, October 23 (theme: Alec Guinness)
To Have And Have Not (1944) 2:00 PM - The first (and best) Bogie and Bacall movie
Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949) 8:00 PM - Alec Guinness plays eight characters in this movie!
The Captain's Paradise (1953) 10:00 PM - Alec Guinness only plays one character in this movie
Last Holiday (1950) 11:45 PM - Alec Guinness.. Queen Latifah, same difference.
The Horse's Mouth (1958) 1:30 AM
The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) 3:15 AM

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This Week on... TCM (October 13-16)

Boy, am I late this week! I didn't get a chance to compile my TCM picks for the week on Sunday, so half the list is obsolete already! Here are a few interesting titles for the last half of the week:

Wednesday, October 13
Fingers At The Window (1942) 4:15 PM
Tension (1950) 3:00 AM

Thursday, October 14 (a few Hitchcock titles)
I Confess (1953) 12:15 PM - Starring Montgomery Clift and Karl Malden
Stage Fright (1950) 2:00 PM
The Wrong Man (1956) 4:00 PM - Excellent Hitchcock movie based on a true story
Dial M For Murder (1954) 6:00 PM
Murder She Said (1961) 12:00 AM - Miss Marple mystery
The Band Wagon (1953) 1:30 AM - Very good musical starring Fred Astaire, Oscar Levant, and Cyd Charisse. The highlight is 'The Girl Hunt,' which must have been one of Michael Jackson's favorite musical moments. He worked some of words and dance steps directly into several of his songs and routines (from the Dangerous era mostly).

Friday, October 15 (theme: Hammer Horror)
Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) 12:00 PM - Esther Williams
The Mummy (1959) 8:00 PM
Repo Man (1984) 2:45 AM - Surreal punk cult classic
Foxes (1980) 4:30 AM - This looks trashy and Scott Baio is in it!

Saturday, October 16
High Sierra (1941) 12:00 PM
Giant (1956) 2:00 PM - It is, but don't let that stop you from watching this movie!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sit, Hubu, Sit! Good dog.

Why is Paul in the family picture? If Paul's in the family picture, why not Winnie Cooper?

I can't believe it happened so quickly: this past week was my one year cable anniversary. Overall, I've been pleased with the selection of programming. I discovered that there is one half-decent TCM movie for every bum station filled with infomercials and mindless reality tv (In fact, I've watched 198 of them in the past year!). However, I've been lamenting the fact that I apparently missed out on the golden age of Nick At Nite and TV Land. I'm not sure how their definition of classic television has warped into George Lopez and Nanny reruns, and, while I used to watch Roseanne and a few other 1980s-90s sitcoms that air currently on (for some reason) multiple channels, they're not something that I'd want to watch for several hours every single day.

But deciding what to watch on television (my major daily dilemma) has just gotten a whole lot better and more confusing. The Hub is an all-new 'network for kids and their families' that debuted on October 10th. This cable channel has a prime-time dream lineup for fans of classic 1970s and 80s pop culture.

Bask in the Hub's weeknight (Monday through Thursday) prime-time schedule (EST):

Family Ties 8-9 PM - Mallory dressed like Little House on the Prairie for the first season! [see also the Mallory's Clothes Tumblr]
The Wonder Years (my favorite show of all-time) 9-9:30 PM - With the original soundtrack. I don't believe this will ever be on DVD in its original format, so set your recording devices to catch every bittersweet moment.
Doogie Howser, MD 9:30-10 PM - Boy genius doctor and first ever blogger!
Happy Days 10-11 PM - Got a couch? Then sit on it, Potsie, while you're watching the Fonz! Ayyy?
Laverne & Shirley 11-11:30 PM - Best enjoyed with a Pepsi-Cola and milk!
Batman 11:30 PM - 12 AM - Biff! Zok! Adam West!

During the afternoons, Hub airs the Jim Henson classic, Fraggle Rock, and late at night they have the original 1980s animated Transformers and GI Joe series. There are also new versions of Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and the Pound Puppies (these are not the original animated versions that we enjoyed in the 1980s, though they still may be of interest). That's all I've noticed so far, but there might be even more exciting schedule additions! I haven't peeked ahead at the weekend schedule, but it looks like there's something called Family Game Night on Friday nights that is like Double Dare meets gigantic Hasbro games. Apparently the channel is owned by Hasbro, which explains the Hasbro game and Playskool advertisements.

Round out any schedule holes with the other great pop culture channel, Boomerang from Cartoon Network, and you'll never have to remember the last decade again. Boomerang has everything from The Banana Splits, Pink Panther, Scooby Doo (and other meddling kids in the guise of Jabberjaw and Speed Buggy), Top Cat, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Josie And The Pussycats to The Smurfs and The Snorks (to name but a few -- check the schedule for new editions).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

This Week on... TCM (October 3-9)

Sunday, October 3
Love Crazy (1941) 8:15 AM
Easy To Wed (1946) 10:00 AM - This remake of a great comedy, Libeled Lady, stars Van Johnson, Esther Williams, and Lucille Ball.
Wait Until Dark (1967) 12:00 PM - This suspenseful movie is fantastic! If you're not an Audrey Hepburn fan (not possible), at least watch it for a very psychotic Alan Arkin.
That Touch Of Mink (1962) 6:15 PM - Lovely romantic comedy with Cary Grant and Doris Day.. and behind-the-scenes of an automat!
Phantom (1922) 12:30 AM - It's a Murnau silent film!

Monday, October 4
Kiss Me Kate (1953) 9:45 AM
Pal Joey (1957) 2:00 PM
Who Was That Lady? (1960) 4:00 PM
Bye Bye Birdie (1963) 6:00 PM
Penthouse (1933) 8:00 PM
Touch Of Evil (1958) 11:30 PM
Cool Hand Luke (1967) 3:15 AM

Tuesday, October 5 (theme: Bette Davis and Frederic March)
The Catered Affair (1956) 3:30 PM - THIS IS AN AUTOMAT MOVIE, supposedly.
The Scapegoat (1959) 5:15 PM
Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1932) 8:00 PM
The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit (1956) 10:00 PM
I Married A Witch (1942) 12:45 AM

Wednesday, October 6
In Name Only (1939) 3:00 PM
Citizen Kane (1941) 8:00 PM
The Third Man (1949) 12:00 AM
The Earrings Of Madame De... (1954) 2:00 AM

Thursday, October 7
Ziegfeld Girl (1941) 7:45 AM
Cynthia (1947) 3:30 PM
Hollywood: The Dream Factory (1972) 7:00 PM - MGM documentary
Forbidden Planet (1956) 8:00 PM
Countdown (1968) 12:15 AM

Friday, October 8 (theme: Hammer Horror)
The Plague Of The Zombies (1966) 8:00 PM
The Devil's Bride (1968) 9:45 PM
The Gorgon (1964) 1:15 AM
Let's Kill Uncle (1966) 2:45 - Okay, Morrissey fans?

Saturday, October 9
Billy Budd (1962) 3:30 PM - With Terence Stamp. I'm sure Morrissey's seen this one, too.
Strangers On A Train (1951) 8:00 PM - One of the best suspense movies ever! Except.. apparently they're REMAKING this?!!?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spotlight on... Pop Culture Documentaries #3

Another day, another Documentary Film Channel post! The channel is currently showing a retrospective of D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus films, and I recently enjoyed two of the selections in the series.

The first film was the 1981 documentary, Delorean, the story of John DeLorean's iconic DMC 12 supercar. DeLorean was a visionary GM executive who left the company to design, create, and sell his own line of cars. The documentary tells that story entirely through footage of board meetings, interviews, public appearances, and news clips dating from 1978-1981. The Delorean's interior and exterior design was innovative for its time. Its futuristic appearance might now seem more like a pop culture novelty, but the stylish two-door coupe has maintained its allure thirty years later. Even if you have little interest in this particular vehicle or its creator, Delorean is an engaging glimpse at the creation of a line of modern cars from scratch. Major criticisms and frequent production setbacks at the North Irish Delorean plant that eventually contributed to its failure should come as no surprise. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film was unintended: the viewer knows that, ultimately, the car was a failure, though it has become an instantly recognizable symbol of the decade. [Watch this on Thursday, September 30 at 2:00 AM EST]

Opening In Moscow is a brilliant kodachrome tour of the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow. The purpose of the exhibition was to introduce the best American designs, including cars and appliances, to the Soviets. On July 25, 1959, the fair, designed by George Nelson and boasting the aesthetic talents of Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller, and Edward Steichen, opened to an eager crowd. Opening In Moscow is like being present at the exhibition. The kodachrome cinematography pops right off the screen, and the cool jazz background complements the equally cool fiberglass pavilions housing the sets of midcentury kitchens, salons, and supermarkets. Modern conveniences of American life are paired with the latest in art, fashion, and architecture. It's all fast and flashy, eye-popping and chaotic, cool and gaudy: typical trademarks of American pop culture.

One of the most interesting aspects of the documentary is Pennebaker's juxtaposition of the comparatively new American culture with the rich, traditional culture of Russia. Reactions to the exhibition were as interesting as the exhibition itself. The pavilions were packed with excited faces, so much like our own, expressing an interest and openness that belied the American stereotype of Soviet bleakness and repression. Sometimes fascination and amusement gave way to a friendly skepticism. Many were happy to see the spectacle but couldn't be convinced that what they were seeing represented typical American lives. Russian intellectuals were unimpressed by the showy displays of gadgetry. To them, sleekness was no replacement for real culture, and they rightly questioned: how does this demonstrate the true essence of America? Where and what is your culture? Modern art and sculpture installations were met with the same bemusement and the question: is it 'real' art or merely decorative art? Regardless of the debate, American freedom of creativity was a novel concept that justified even those installations that were found to be the most tasteless.

It's disappointing to consider the excitement and openness with which the Russian public greeted the American exhibition because, when Pennebaker returned home with his documentary, Americans had no similar interest in the film and the Russian receptivity was unrequited. [This is a condensed version of Opening In Moscow on YouTube]

I highly recommend viewing both of these films should they happen to be reaired on the Documentary Film Channel. Earlier pop culture documentary posts touched on my passion for pop culture and film preservation, and I highlighted another documentary called Keepers Of The Frame. Kitty Packard's blog has an insightful article on the admirable work of the The Film Foundation and the necessity of film preservation. This article is necessary reading for all film enthusiasts and people who believe in this cause (especially since I managed to overlook linking to the Film Foundation in my original film preservation post)!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This Week on... TCM (September 26 - October 2)

It doesn't look like a great week for TCM, but there are a few movies that might be of interest. As always, you want to double-check your schedule for airings.

Sunday, September 26
BUtterfield 8 (1960) 8:00 AM
Critic's Choice (1963) 10:00 AM
The Ambassador's Daughter (1956) 12:00 PM
The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) 4:00 PM
Viva Zapata! (1952) 8:00 PM - Marlon Brando! This is my number one pick for the week.

Tuesday, September 28
The Roman Spring Of Mrs. Stone (1961) 8:00 PM
Anna Karenina (1948) 10:00 PM - This is the Vivien Leigh version
Ship Of Fools (1965) 2:15 AM - I'm excited to see this one!

Wednesday, September 29
Adventure (1945) 12:00 PM

Thursday, September 30
Dream Wife (1953) 10:00 AM
King Solomon's Mines (1950) 12:00 PM
From Here To Eternity (1953) 2:00 PM - A very good movie
Wuthering Heights (1939) 8:00 PM
The Heiress (1949) 10:00 PM - This is the millionth time that this has been on TCM this year, but it is quite good.
The Sting (1973) 2:00 AM - Again?!

Friday, October 1 (themes: Walter Matthau and Hammer Horror)
The Odd Couple (1968) 10:00 AM - One of my favorites!
Horror Of Dracula (1958) 8:00 PM
The Brides Of Dracula (1960) 9:30 PM
Dracula, Prince Of Darkness (1966) 11:00 PM
Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1969) 12:45 AM
Psychomania (1973) 2:30 AM - This one sounds really dumb and trashy, so it should be good.
Daughters Of Satan (1972) 4:00 AM

Saturday, October 2
Rosalie (1937) 6:00 AM - Never saw this, but I remember the 'Rosalie' number being featured in That's Entertainment!
Thousands Cheer (1943) 8:15 AM
Bonnie And Clyde (1967) 8:00 PM
They Live By Night (1949) 1:30 AM

* On a non-cinematic sidenote, I hope Arrested Development fans watched Running Wilde last week (as mentioned in my last post). I thought it was really promising. There were some funny moments, including surprise cameos by British comedian Peter Serafinowicz and David Cross. Will Arnett was in (almost) top-form as the star, proving that, though he is best in ensemble casting (a la Arrested Development), his comedic abilities are more than enough to carry a twenty minute show. Keri Russell was fine as his polar opposite ex-girlfriend, but the real chemistry was between Arnett and Serafinowicz. I hope Serafinowicz will be a permanent cast member. Make sure you catch Running Wilde before it's gone forever! Since I enjoyed it, I give it maybe... three more episodes before Fox axes it. Also, the season premiere of 30 Rock was especially excellent, and The Increasingly Poor Decisions Of Todd Margaret, also starring Cross and Arnett, will begin this week on the Independent Film Channel (starting on Friday, October 1 at 10:00 PM -- leave your tv on and watch Freaks And Geeks after!).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

This Week on... TCM (September 19-25)

It's a packed week on TCM, and I have to say, I think it looks like it's going to be a really good one!

Sunday, September 19
Show Boat (1951) 8:15 AM
With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) 2:00 PM - Doris Day and Brian Keith with a young Barbara Hershey
Rome Adventure (1962) 3:45 PM - Another movie about falling in love in Italy, which is practically a genre in itself. This one stars the delightful Suzanne Pleshette.
Mogambo (1953) 6:00 PM - A remake of Red Dust starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, and Grace Kelly
Wait Until Dark (1967) 8:00 PM - Okay, but I really can't wait to finally see this!
Dial M For Murder (1954) 10:00 PM - I love this Hitchcock classic!

Monday, September 20
Topper (1937) 1:30 PM - Cary Grant!
Sherlock Holmes In Terror By Night (1946) 4:30 PM
Secret Beyond The Door (1948) 6:00 PM - Oooooh, a creepy Fritz Lang movie!
The Prowler (1951) 8:00 PM

Tuesday, September 21
Look Back In Anger (1958) 9:30 AM - It takes place in front of the kitchen sink. This must be the Richard Burton version that is actually from 1959, according to IMDb.
The Fugitive Kind (1960) 1:15 PM - I can't wait to see this!! It's Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani (also with Joanne Woodward)! Another one written by Tennessee Williams.
Irma La Douce (1963) 5:30 PM - Billy Wilder film with Jack Lemmon
Waterloo Bridge (1940) 12:00 AM - I highly recommend this movie. It is a beautifully tragic film about two star-crossed lovers who meet during an air raid. It stars Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh.
A Yank At Oxford (1938) 2:00 AM - And if you liked Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh in one movie, here's another.

Wednesday, September 22
Friends And Lovers (1931) 1:00 PM - A pre-code film starring Laurence Olivier, Lili Damita, and Erich von Stroheim.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984) 1:45 AM - This is brilliant!
What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) 3:15 AM - A must for any egg salad enthusiast! Incidentally, if you thought the Lovin' Spoonful scenes detracted from the movie, you might be interested to note that Woody Allen completely agreed and was none too happy about about being forced to include them. From then on, Woody Allen insisted on full control of all aspects of his films.
Hold On! (1966) 4:45 AM - Herman's Hermits were better than the Lovin' Spoonful, at least!

Thursday, September 23
You're Only Young Once (1938) 2:15 PM - In which time laughs at Andy Hardy.

Friday, September 24
Conflict (1945) 11:00 AM - A bleak sounding Humphrey Bogart movie!
The Sting (1973) 9:45 PM - Again!
The Devil Within Her (1975) 3:15 AM - No, it's not The Exorcist or Rosemary's Baby. But it's similar, which makes one wonder: what was it about the 1970s and these movies about spawning demonic children? Was it merely one too many bad acid trips or just some strange societal craze? Either way, this movie looks like some good trash.

Saturday, September 25
The Penguin Pool Murder (1932) 6:00 AM - From TCM: 'A feisty school teacher sets out to solve a murder in an aquarium.' Wow!
The Mouse That Roared (1959) 9:00 AM - Classic Peter Sellers farce
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 8:00 PM - This was JUST on.. Argh, and I know that I won't be able to resist watching Marlon Brando in his sweaty t-shirt again!
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) 10:15 PM - It's a Very Tennessee Williams night.. At least you can marvel at all the weird names and all the dysfunctional, creepy family problems.
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) 12:15 AM - Now, this is my favorite Tennessee Williams work. And, this is one of my favorite Katharine Hepburn films and one of my favorite Monty Clift movies, as well! It's truly disturbing.
Sweet Bird Of Youth (1962) 2:15 AM - I mostly liked this for Paul Newman. He looks very good in this movie. The movie itself.. meh (in my opinion).

Also, Keepers Of The Frame, the film restoration documentary I talked about in this post, will air Sunday, September 19 (that's today!) at 4:00 PM. Don't miss your chance to watch this! And, this week on TV will include both the season premieres of 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory as well as the series premiere of Running Wilde (check this post for more info on that).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cinematic Automats

If I could travel back in time and work anywhere, I would choose a bustling Horn & Hardart's in Manhattan. I'm completely enthralled by the entire concept of automats, and I can't believe that they no longer exist (this isn't entirely true -- there are modern equivalents, but it's not the same). I'm always interested in scrutinizing movie scenes set in automats, cafeterias, nightclubs, five and dimes, department stores, and the like -- those mundane settings that were completely unremarkable when the movies were first released but now could be seen as curiosities because of their obsolescence or extinction. (Or, scenes from areas that are gone or endangered.. like original footage of Coney Island, for instance) Sure, I suppose that would be like staring at a scene taking place in a McDonald's lobby and trying to get a good look at the dollar menu, but I can't help my fascination of everyday views of the past. Recently, I rediscovered a movie that had an automat scene, which was made even more thrilling by the rare footage of BEHIND the automat's windows. This movie is the Doris Day/Cary Grant romantic comedy, That Touch Of Mink. In the film, Doris' roommate, played by Audrey Meadows, works in the automat and is reprimanded for supplying her pal with free meals.

This rediscovery lead me on a field trip to the IMDb to see if I could scrounge up more movies that bring the past to life. Specifically, I was looking for more movies that have automat scenes. The list the Db spat out is as follows:

Sadie McKee (1934)*
Thirty Day Princess (1934)*
Easy Living (1937)*
Footlight Fever (1941) - The REAL tagline: They've got that FOOTLIGHT FEVER and it's CATCHING!*
Married Bachelor (1941)*
Sweet And Low-down (1944)*
Ladies' Man (1947)*
A Run For Your Money (1949)* - This one is British
Just This Once (1952)*
Affair With A Stranger (1953)*
The Catered Affair (1956)*
* A Hatful Of Rain (1957) - I've seen this, and I can't recall any scene in an automat
* That Touch Of Mink (1962) - YES, this definitely has a scene, and it's highly recommended!
* Midnight Cowboy (1969) - I just rewatched this recently, and I recall a Western diner setting but nothing else.
Summer In The City (German)
* Radio Days (1987) - I saw this many years ago and loved it. Since it's a nostalgic trip to the past, it's possible that there is an automat scene.
Dark City (1998)
Solitary Journey (1998 animated short)

My new quest is to see all the movies that I've asterisked*. Can anyone confirm whether or not these movies actually have automat scenes? Is this list lacking movies with automat, cafeteria, and/or five and dime settings (or scenes that might be of similar interest to a nostalgia enthusiast)?

(Incidentally, I just discovered IMDb's lousy interface update. Apparently, the notion of 'ease of use' ain't what it used to be.. I'm talking to you, too, Flickr.. and EVERY other decent site that keeps exchanging simplicity for flashy bloat. Thanks for constantly taking the joy out of the best of the internet!)