Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyberlink Monday (3 links for the price of 1!)

I'm bursting with excitement over three articles I read online this holiday weekend, and despite the fact that I have posted links to them on Twitter (follow me @cwblog!), I want to recommend them in a more proper ramble.

1) Department Store Movies: A $ign Of Our Times is a timely post-Black Friday article written by suzidoll [at TCM's Movie Morlocks blog]. It explores the depiction and symbolism of the department store ("a landmark of urban life") in twentieth-century cinema. Department stores are seen as "an ideologically rich setting in our pop culture for understanding attitudes, issues, and problems related to our economy and the differences among the classes." I've always been attracted to old movies that are set in department stores because, even on a subconscious level, they come across as emblematic of a less stylized view of daily life. You get a better sense for what it was like to live in a certain place at a certain time.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fluorescerama: Equinox (1970)

In the tradition of the Peter Fonda cult classic Race With The Devil, Equinox is a supernatural thriller that satisfies on every level. The ludicrous plot seems stitched together at random by someone suffering from short term memory loss, and the characters' motivations are illogical at best. The acting is hollow, and... it was a real laugh riot! Although I might have found this movie amusing for all the wrong reasons, watching Equinox is a recommended treat!

[WARNING! This post contains a full plot synopsis that will spoil the movie for you!]

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Macy's 85th Thanksgiving Day Parade

Chances are, while you're waiting for your turducken to heat up, you will be one of the 44 million people who will tune in to this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. After all, it's tradition! What you might not realize is that this year is the 85th anniversary of the holiday institution. And this oldster is showing no signs of slowing down! The parade will add at least six new balloons and floats as well as a controversial new route. In honor of the milestone, here are eleven trivial nuggets about America's favorite parade that you can use as conversation fodder around your dinner table.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy Haul-idays from Chronicle Books!

Welcome to my second annual Chronicle Books Happy Haul-idays submission post (last year, I actually posted from my other blog, Curly Wurly)! Chronicle Books (my favorite publisher!) has upped the ante this year. This year's winner will score $500 worth of books handpicked from the publisher's vast catalogue. What's even more exciting is one of the triumphant blog's readers (who comments on their submission post) will receive a matching set of the winner's handpicked selections. And, Chronicle Books has decided to be even more generous this year! They will also donate $500 worth of books to a charity of the winner's choice. So, without further ado, here is my official submission post to Chronicle Book's Happy Haul-idays contest. If you're interested in winning my picks, please comment on this post. [NOTE: Obviously, your winning these books depend upon my winning the contest.] If you know anyone who might like my selection, feel free to link them to this post. (If you entered this contest, too, and think I might be interested in your list of books, let me know!) Finally, if you have a blog and want to enter the contest for yourself, simply click on this link and follow the simple directions. [All submissions and entries must be received by December 2, 2011. Read the official rules! Good luck!]

Saturday, November 12, 2011

This week on... TCM (November 14 - 19)

Monday, November 14, 2011
The Glass Key (1942) 3:00 PM - It might not be The Blue Dahlia, but this one is worth watching every time it's on, too.
Shanghai Express (1932) 10:00 PM - Marlene Dietrich on a train.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939) 4:00 PM

Thursday, November 17, 2011
Ship Of Fools (1965) 1:15 AM

Friday, November 18, 2011
Ziegfeld Girl (1941) 3:30 PM
Equinox (1970) 2:00 AM - 'Four friends are attacked by a demon while on a picnic due to their possession of a mystic tome.' This sounds like a cross between Buffy The Vampire Slayer and one of the best movies I've ever seen, Race with the Devil [2]

Saturday, November 19, 2011
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1961) 4:30 AM

Saturday, November 5, 2011

This week on... TCM (November 6 -12)

TCM's November schedule has officially broken out of the graveyard of Halloween horror movies. While this month doesn't promise wall-to-wall thrills and chills, there are some really good selections. Also, I'm looking forward to Robert Osborne's return to the hosting chair on December 1! It was just announced that Drew Barrymore would be taking over Alec Baldwin's co-hosting duties for TCM's Essentials series. I'm disappointed that Alec Baldwin won't be continuing because he was an insightful co-host, but I think that Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore should be an interesting pair.

Sunday, November 6, 2011
The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) 4:00 PM
Critic's Choice (1963) 8:00 PM - Bob Hope and Lucille Ball team up for a match made in comedy heaven.

Monday, November 7, 2011 (theme: Battle of the Blondes -- Veronica Lake and Lana Turner)
This Gun For Hire (1942) 8:00 PM - One Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake movie and...
The Blue Dahlia (1946) 9:30 PM - ...My favorite Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake movie (I'm so excited!)! TCM doesn't bring this movie out frequently, and it's not on DVD (nor does it appear that it will be anytime soon). Definitely plan to watch or tape this if you like film noirs. [2]
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) 11:15 PM - This Lana Turner / John Garfield noir is one of the finest of the genre, I guarantee.
The Bad And The Beautiful (1952) 1:15 AM

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 (theme: Jean Harlow)
Dinner At Eight (1933) 6:00 PM - I get too hungry for dinner at eight, so I'm glad they scheduled this for six instead.
Bombshell (1933) 12:00 AM
Platinum Blonde (1931) 1:45 AM
Harlow: The Blonde Bombshell (1993 documentary) 3:30 AM

Thursday, November 10, 2011
Mr. Skeffington 5:30 PM
Love Affair (1939) 8:00 PM - You can watch the full movie anytime at the Internet Archive
Now, Voyager (1942) 10:45 PM

Friday, November 11, 2011
Marlowe (1969) 12:00 AM - James Garner takes on the role of Raymond Chandler's P.I., Philip Marlowe. It will be interesting to see Garner's take on one of the characters that is so deeply associated with Humphrey Bogart.
The Iron Rose (1973) 2:00 AM - 'A young couple is trapped in a cemetery and soon fears begin to overtake them.' - Perhaps more appropriate for last Friday, this French horror movie piques my interest. I hope it's not as slow-paced as the last foreign horror/suspense movie I watched (Roman Polanski's Repulsion)
Carnival of Souls (1962) 3:30 AM - This movie reminds me a lot of the Twilight Zone episode, The Hitch-Hiker (which first aired in 1960). Sure, there are plot differences, but the overall atmosphere, theme, and Inger Stevensesque blonde are somewhat similar.

Saturday, November 12, 2011
The Producers (1968) 11:00 PM
Hot Millions (1968) 2:15 AM

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Haunting Of Room 635

Sometimes guests in Room 635 claim they see mysterious links hidden in dark corners or behind the heavy drapery. Others have insisted they've seen them reflected behind them in the bathroom mirror, but, when they turn around, there's nothing there. One guest, 'Joel Cairo' -- who I believe was besotted -- told the maid that he received a particularly disturbing phone call in the middle of the night by one such link. He insisted the phone call was coming from INSIDE his room! Now, I personally don't believe in such childishness. However, I have compiled a list of some of the most ghoulish sitings that have been reported to my extremely gullible staff. Until we can gather enough money to hire those Ghost Hunters people, you'll have to judge for yourself. Click if you dare.

Just in time for Halloween home viewing, Rod Serling's 1969 series, The Night Gallery. There are many episodes on YouTube and a few choice links can be found on this Metafilter post. Guest stars include John Astin, Carl Reiner, and Joan Crawford (the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg).

Also at Metafilter: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater is now online in both streaming and downloadable formats. The original Metafilter post suggests some holiday titles.

Gary Larson's brilliant comic, The Far Side, was made into a 1994 Halloween special for CBS (that somehow I don't remember)! More information about the short-lived Tales From The Far Side can be found at Wikipedia. Vinnie Rattolle's blog has download links (and spoilers!) for the television version of the special, but I didn't watch it (so download at your own risk).

What does Garfield have in common with Michael Scott? Apparently, they have the same greatest fear (not the bankruptcy of Sbarro's). In 1989, a series of Garfield strips was published where Jim Davis posited a sort of parallel universe where Garfield was left in a dark, cold house devoid of Jon and Odie. What results is an unsettling and surprisingly philosophical story arc that seems as much a hallucination to the reader as to the lasagne-loving cat himself. As Garfield plunges into the the depths of madness, he begins to question his very existence. Not since the 'Nermal is Dead' (complete with various 'clues' surrounding his death and its cover-up) plot of the previous year had the Garfield strip delved into such murky waters. Read the original stories here (and at the Retro Junk link above). And follow up with analysis from Jim Davis at Boing Boing.

Secret Style Icon: Edward Gorey and Everyone He Has Ever Drawn. Interesting post from an up-and-coming post-Sassy Sassyesque magazine. Warning: Teenage clothes and pictures of Edward Gorey covered in sleeping cats.

How To Make Magnetic Googly Eyes. (see also: All Googly: The #1 Source for Pictures of Things with Googly Eyes)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

This week on... TCM (October 30 - November 4)

Sunday, October 30, 2011
Dial M For Murder (1954) 2:00 PM
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum (1966) 10:30 PM

Monday, October 31, 2011
Village Of The Damned (1960) 8:00 PM - Interesting movie to have coinciding with mobs of sugar-addicted kids banging on your door
The Innocents (1961) 12:15 AM
The Haunting (1963) 2:00 AM
Repulsion (1965) 4:00 AM - I've wanted to see this Roman Polanski movie for a long time. Stars Catherine Deneuve, who - can you believe it - just turned 68! Q: What follows Repulsion? A: Tension! (see Tuesday)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 (theme: hilarity?)
Tension (1950) 4:00 PM - 'A man who had planned to murder his wife's lover becomes the prime suspect when somebody beats him to it.' I feel like I've seen this movie a thousand times, but it sounds good and stars Cyd Charisse.
The Big Sleep (1946) 6:00 PM
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975) 8:00 PM - Hilarious movie with Gene Wilder as the great Sigerson Holmes, Madeline Kahn, and Marty Feldman. Hey, it's better than the terrible new steampunk franchise!
Sleeper (1973) 9:45 PM
Modern Times (1936) 1:15 AM - Eating Machine! Eating Machine!
Jour de fĂȘte (1949) 3:00 AM - 'A small town postman tries to adopt modern efficiency techniques.' Jacques Tati

Wednesday, November 2, 2011 (theme: Battle of the blondes - Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield)
Niagara (1952) 8:00 PM - Excellent film noir starring Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotten. I never really appreciated Marilyn Monroe (with the exception of the next movie), but I've since realized what an underrated actor she was. She not only had comedic talent but also remarkable dramatic abilities. I was especially impressed with her performances in Niagara and Don't Bother To Knock (with Richard Widmark). Apparently, she was something of an intellectual, too. She was not just a pretty face! Surprisingly, I think I'm most disappointed that we have been denied seeing what Marilyn could have achieved in other mature acting roles.
Some Like It Hot (1959) 9:45 PM - Billy Wilder's classic

Thursday, November 3, 2011 (theme: Hit the deck with Doris Day)
Screen Directors Playhouse: The Life of Vernon Hathaway (1955) 4:00 PM - 'Meek daydreamer starts living his dreams in real life.' TCM will be showing many episodes of Screen Directors Playhouse over the coming months. This one sounds interesting if a tad Mittyesque (or, if you prefer, Billy Liar). This one stars Alan Young (yes, Wilbur!) and Cloris Leachman (geez, how old IS she!?). Many of the stories and cast lists sound very interesting. It's hard to imagine a time when such high calibre programming was on television.
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) 6:15 PM - Smart gentlemen, anyway.
Romance On The High Seas (1948) 8:00 PM
April In Paris (1952) 10:00 PM

Friday, November 4, 2011
Gold Diggers Of 1935 (1935) 9:30 PM - While this is not as good as '33, this is the one with the fifteen minute spectacular 'Lullaby of Broadway' sequence. 'Lullaby of Broadway' was Busby Berkeley's masterpiece.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pop Culture Documentary #5: A Flea Market Documentary

A Flea Market Documentary is a cross country celebration of cool junk and the people who frequent these ragtag tag sales. The documentary was made for Pittsburgh's WQED PBS by my favorite pop culture filmmaker, Rick Sebak. His series of regional documentaries, including Sandwiches That You Will Like and A Hot Dog Program, have more warmth and depth than similar shows featured on the Food and Travel channels. This is his most exciting work to date.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

This week on... TCM (October 24 - 29)

TCM is looking to disturb your sleep this week with several nights of terror, intrigue, and, of course, the macabre. Will you be brave enough to make it through this schedule?

Monday, October 24, 2011 (A night of TERROR!)
Carnival Of Souls (1962) 8:00 PM - I'm not a fan of the zombie genre, but I recall liking this title a bit better than Night of the Living Dead.
Strait-Jacket (1964) 12:00 AM
Pit And The Pendulum (1961) 1:45 AM
The Masque Of The Red Death (1964) 3:15 AM
The Devil's Bride (1968) 5:00 AM

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Irma La Douce (1963) 3:00 PM - One of the two great movies pairing Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The Bad Seed (1956) 5:45 PM - Ooooh, this movie is GOOD! Weird but good.
Undercurrent (1946) 3:30 AM - 'Sheltered woman realizes either her husband or his mysterious brother is a psychopath' - Interesting cast for such a plot: Katharine Hepburn, Robert Taylor, Robert Mitchum

Thursday, October 27, 2011
Screen Directors Playhouse: No. 5 Checked Out (1956) 4:15 PM - Teresa Wright stars as a deaf woman confronting desperate crooks using one of her resort cabins as a hideout. The premise reminds me of Wait Until Dark (worth watching for Alan Arkin's manic performance!).
Fiddler On The Roof (1971) 8:00 PM - I've still never seen this musical, and there's probably no justification for that.
The Boy Friend (1971) 11:15 PM

Friday, October 28, 2011 (The night of a thousand evil twins)
Dead Ringer (1964) 8:00 PM 'Woman murders rich twin and tries to take her place' - Sounds like the new CW show, Ringer? Well, hopefully it's a little better since it stars Bette Davis.
The Black Room (1935) 10:00 PM - 'Evil twin disposes of his enemies in secret death chamber on his estate' - Boris Karloff
The Other (1972) 11:15 PM

Saturday, October 29, 2011
Cat People (1942) 8:00 PM - Recommended!
Martin Scorsese Presents Val Lewton: The Man In The Shadows (2007 documentary) 9:30 PM
The Body Snatcher (1945) 11:00 PM
Bedlam (1946) 2:00 AM
The Seventh Victim (1943) 3:30 AM

Saturday, October 15, 2011

This week on... TCM (October 17 - 22)

Monday, October 17, 2011 (Horrors!)
The Lady From Shanghai (1948) 2:15 PM - If people are wondering why you're watching a movie in the middle of the afternoon on Monday, you can tell them you're doing a little tarrrrr-get practice.
Horror Of Dracula (1958) 8:00 PM
House On Haunted Hill (1959) 9:30 PM
The Tingler (1959) 11:00 PM - Scream, ladies and gentlemen! Scream as loud as you can! (also, read my review of Spine Tingler!: The William Castle Story)
House Of Wax (1953) 12:30 AM - If you've got your 3-D glasses on, make sure you don't get hit by the paddle ball.
Curse Of The Demon (1958) 2:15 AM - I've never seen this one.. It's a Jacques Tourneur film starring Dana Andrews as an anthropologist investigating a devil worshipper. Typical Dana Andrews movie!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
On Moonlight Bay (1951) 3:00 PM - A fun Doris Day / Gordon MacRae musical that will delight fans of Oklahoma! and Meet Me In St. Louis

Friday, October 21, 2011
She (1965) 8:00 PM - From the H. Rider Haggard book

Also, 'the vacationing Robert Osborne' will return in December!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures

The Encyclopedia of Guilty Pleasures: 1,001 Things You Hate To Love by Sam Stall, Lou Harry, and Julia Spalding (Quirk Books, 2004) is the most opinionated and infuriating pop culture encyclopedia I've ever read.

The book is meant to be a satirical compendium of bad taste which plumbs the depths of trash culture and regurgitates the curiously popular bits. I found the writers' descriptions of the skewered subjects to be shallow and misguided and the writing style to be unnecessarily scathing.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

This week on... TCM (October 9 - 14)

Boy, was American Horror Story creepy or what? I don't know that I can watch any more of that. Oh well, at least there's always the trusty TCM. Here's their very laudable October 2011 schedule.

Sunday, October 9, 2011
Critic's Choice (1963) 4:00 PM - 'A Broadway critic must write a negative review of his wife's play' - Fun with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball!
Limelight (1952) 1:30 AM - I've been interested in seeing this late Charles Chaplin movie which features Claire Bloom and Buster Keaton

Monday, October 10, 2011
Fiddler On The Roof (1971) 4:45 PM - It's hard to believe, but I've never seen this.
The Uninvited (1944) 9:15 PM - This is a really good Ray Milland supernatural thriller.
Dead Of Night (1945) 11:00 PM - Another good British supernatural movie. This is like a gentler Simpson's Treehouse of Horror (various vignettes weave together into a central psychoanalytical story).
Cat People (1942) 2:15 AM - Excellent Simone Simon tale
The Curse Of The Cat People (1944) 3:45 AM - This is a sort-of, kind-of sequel to Cat People, except it really has nothing to do with the first movie. Personally, I found it to be much more haunting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The Glass Key (1942) 12:15 AM - You can't go wrong with this film noir starring one of the best duos of the genre, Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake. The plot is taken from a Dashiell Hammett book. Stay tuned for next month's airing of my (2nd) favorite, THE BLUE DAHLIA!
All The King's Men (1949) 2:00 AM - I read the Robert Penn Warren book in high school but never saw the movie. I've read nothing but rave reviews of Broderick Crawford's portrayal of Willie Stark.

Friday, October 14, 2011
The Third Man (1949) 8:30 AM - It's a favorite and I'll recommend it every single time it's on!
Some Like It Hot (1959) 10:30 AM
The Apartment (1960) 12:45 PM - Poor Jack Lemmon..
Far From The Madding Crowd (1967) 5:00 PM - A fine collection of actors: Julie Christie and Terrence Stamp (inspiring the 'Terry and Julie' lyrics of the Kinks' Waterloo Sunset?), Peter Finch, and Alan Bates (who was quite good in the Merchant Ivory movie Quintet)!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On the... Television in... October

Right about the time when the air starts to give off a satisfying chill, so too does the television, in the form of Halloween specials, horror movies, and monster marathons. I love this time of year and all its corresponding thrills, and my interest is piqued by a few new shows airing this month. I don't know much about any of them, and I'm not fond of being spoiled, so I haven't looked at a lot of clips or websites about any of them. In fact, it can be said that I know next to nothing about any of these series, but what I have seen has me anticipating some high quality creepiness. First up is American Horror Story. I know little about FX's new horror series which debuts tonight [Wednesday, October 5 at 10:00 PM] (other than the fact that it stars Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton), but I've read some positive reviews. I hope it will live up to the hype! I've also seen intriguing ads for NBC's Grimm, which appears to be a darker, more adult fairy tale (though not to be confused with the new ABC series Once Upon A Time?). Grimm officially airs on NBC on Friday, October 28 (I'm not sure when Once Upon A Time makes its debut), but it looks like Syfy might be showing the pilot episode on Monday, October 24 at 8:00 PM. Check your local listings!

The trusty TV Tango has posted its Halloween/October programming list. Here's the best stuff I've gleaned from the list. Cartoon Network's better sibling, Boomerang, is doing a Super-Spooky Weekday Block all month. Various Scooby-Doo incarnations, The [Animated] Addams Family, The Munsters, and Funky Phantom will be shown from 10:30 AM to 3 PM every week day. Also, it looks like Boomerang has an Addams Family/Munsters marathon scheduled for Monday, October 10 (6 AM to 5:30 PM). Wish I still got that channel! AMC and TCM will be showing a LOT of horror movies all month. TCM is, naturally, the channel you want to tune to for the best in classic thrills and chills. FYI, here is TCM's October 2011 schedule (I haven't watched too many movies for a few weeks, but next week's schedule is really packed.)

O-o-o-oh Ro-o-o-ob!

On the less terrifying side of the dial, I discovered that TV Land is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of one of the best comedies ever, The Dick Van Dyke Show, with a week of marathon programming. Check your local listings. The channel advertises hour blocks starting at 7:00 PM, but I've seen alternate airing times, as well. Unfortunately, I already missed one day's worth of programming since I didn't check their schedule! Don't miss this rare occasion of TV Land actually showing a classic show! Edit: There will be a two-day marathon on TV Land starting at noon on Saturday.

Televisual Miscellanea

My favorite television show of all-time, The Wonder Years, is now on Netflix Streaming. This is great news for anyone who has that service and/or has not been watching it religiously on The Hub.

The modern classic Arrested Development will could return by 2013 with ten new episodes (each focusing on one of the whacked out Bluths) (a premise that sounds more webisodic to me) and culminating with the long-promised movie. I fear resurrecting something as close to perfection as Arrested Development will be the biggest little mistake Mitch Hurwitz could make. Check out the New Yorker Festival's Arrested Development reunion panel where these unholy promises were made.

Here's something to look forward to: Stephen Fry, Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd), and David Mitchell and Robert Webb (the duo behind Peep Show and The Mitchell and Webb Look/Sound/etc.) are collaborating on a new show for the BBC called The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff. It's a Dickensian spoof by Mark Evans that will air in the UK around Christmas. I got a chuckle out of Robert Webb's quote in the linked press release: "I'm really looking forward to working with my all-time hero David Mitchell. Apparently Stephen Fry is in it too, which is nice." The premise sounds very promising and the cast is a guarantee for quality street comedy. I just hope it makes it into wider release eventually (ie BBC America, the Internet).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Survey says: Game Shows!

Dumb Dora is so dumb..

How dumb is she?

She's so dumb that she watched three specials on the Game Show Network about [BLANK]

You don't need to be Charles Nelson Reilly to guess that a three-part special on GSN about the most memorable game shows of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s would be right up my alley! Hollywood square Caroline Rhea hosted three hour-long specials that originally aired in 2008 but are frequently dusted off to complement their Wayback Playback retro block.

Game Shows: The 1970s

The gang's all here!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

This week on... TCM (September 11 - 16)

Sunday, September 11, 2011 (celebrating New York and honoring the ten year anniversary of 9/11 with movies chosen by two of New York's many heroes, first responders on that day)
42nd Street (1933) 10:00 AM
Guys And Dolls (1955) 11:45
The Clock (1945) 2:30 PM
Annie Hall (1977) 4:15 PM
On The Town (1949) 6:00 PM

Monday, September 12, 2011
Don't Bother To Knock (1952) 8:00 PM - Marilyn Monroe is GREAT in this movie as an unstable young beauty, co-stars Richard Widmark
Niagara (1952) 9:30 PM - Another great noir with Marilyn Monroe, co-stars Joseph Cotten.
The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) 11:30 PM

Thursday, September 15, 2011 (theme: Merchant Ivory)
The Remains of the Day (1993) 8:00 PM
Howards End (1992) 10:30 PM
A Room With A View (1985) 1:00 AM
Maurice (1987) 3:00 AM

Friday, September 16, 2011
Harper (1966) 4:45 PM
Carry On Sergeant (1959) 8:00 PM
Carry On Nurse (1960) 9:30 PM
Carry On Teacher (1962) 11:00 PM
Carry On Constable (1961) 12:30 AM
Corruption (1967) 2:00 AM - 'When a plastic surgeon accidentally disfigures his model girlfriend, he becomes obsessed with restoring her face.' Peter Cushing
Wicked, Wicked (1973) 3:45 AM - This is one of the worst movies I saw last year. It's a split-screen headache starring an Ian Curtis lookalike who is obsessed with a blonde-wigged hotel singer. The title song will burrow into your subconscious and you'll never be rid of it!
Delicious Dishes (1950) 5:45 AM - 'Experts demonstrate such innovative kitchen gadgets as the cheese slicer and the melon baller.' - 13 minutes

Saturday, September 3, 2011

This week on... TCM (September 5 - 10)

Monday, September 5, 2011
Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood [2] - 12:45 PM - 8 PM (roughly) - Labor Day marathon of TCM's 2010 documentary series. Seven hour-long episodes spanning the rise and fall of the studio system. I watched this when it first aired over seven weeks, and TCM did an admirable job (as usual)!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) 8:00 PM - A night of noirs
Out Of The Past (1947) 10:00 PM - A stylish Jacques Tourneur noir starring young Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and a typically sleazy Kirk Douglas.
A Letter To Three Wives (1948) 1:30 AM

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Follow The Fleet (1936) 8:00 PM
The Big Street (1942) 12:00 AM - Oh no, it is Damon Runyon! Luck be a lousy Lucy tonight.
The Lady Of Burlesque (1943) 1:45 AM

Thursday, September 8, 2011 (theme: Merchant Ivory)
The Europeans (1979) 8:00 PM 'A New England household is upset by the arrival of two cousins from Europe.' Lee Remick
The Bostonians (1984) 9:45 PM - 'A bored lawyer and a suffragette vie for the attentions of a faith healer's charismatic daughter.' Christopher Reeve, Vanessa Redgrave
Roseland (1977) 12:00 AM - 'Three stories set in the famed dancehall center on the search for a perfect partner in dancing and life.' Teresa Wright, Lou Jacobi
Quartet (1981) 2:00 AM - 'When her husband's arrest leaves her penniless, a woman accepts an invitation to move in with a strange couple.' Isabelle Adjani, Maggie Smith

Friday, September 9, 2011
Breakin' (1984) 2:00 AM - Unfortunately, there's NO electric bugaloo in this movie. Starring Shabba-Doo. Yes, THE Shabba-Doo. Stay tuned for my ode to Shabba-Doo next week!
Roller Boogie (1979) 3:30 AM - Linda Blair was already used to spinning in her acting roles by the time she made this movie.

Saturday, September 10, 2011
The Kennel Murder Case (1933) 9:30 AM - William Powell as society sleuth Philo Vance. I wonder if there are any movies where a society sleuth comes head-to-head with a gentleman-thief. I hope so.
The Loneliness Of the Long Distance Runner (1962) - 8:00 PM - I LOVE THIS MOVIE! It stars the seminal Angry Young Man, Tom Courtenay (except in a rare turn, you actually learn WHY he's an angry young man. Usually that's not addressed.) and Michael Redgrave. Oh man, Michael Redgrave's sullen face at the end!! HIGHLY recommended. Tom Courtenay is a gem!
The Innocents (1961) - 'A governess convinces herself the children in her charge are haunted.' Wait, the CHILDREN are haunted? Can a person be haunted? Or are they possessed? Or is it just that the children's rooms are haunted? I might have to watch this to find out.
Dead Of Night (1945) 12:00 AM - 'Guests at a country estate share stories of the supernatural.' Perfect midnight movie!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

This week on... TCM (August 28 - ??)

The weather outside is frightful, so why not ride out the rest of the hurricane indoors with Ben Mankiewicz and the TCM team? Lights are flickering a lot, so I'll just post the first half and edit this later to include the beginning of September.

Sunday, August 28, 2011 (CAROLE LOMBARD)
To Be Or Not To Be (1942) 6:15 PM
My Man Godfrey (1936) 8:00 PM - A highly rated comedy starring real-life couple William Powell and Carole Lombard in which an aristocrat is mistaken for a forgotten man. I can only take so much Carole Lombard, though..
Mr. And Mrs. Smith (1941) 1:00 AM - This Hitchcock movie has nothing to do with that Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie movie. At all.

Monday, August 29, 2011 (ANNE FRANCIS aka Honey West, who died earlier this year)
Funny Girl (1968) 5:00 PM
Blackboard Jungle (1955) 8:00 PM - My Mom recommends this movie about hoodlums.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 (HOWARD KEEL)
Lovely To Look At (1952) 12:30 PM - The Roberta remake
Annie Get Your Gun (1950) 4:30 PM - Except for that ONE song, this is a fun musical!
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954) 9:30 PM - Bless yore beautiful hide! I only recently discovered that my favorite bride, Dorcas, was played by Julie Newmar!

Here's the TCM September 2011 schedule as I've seen it..

Friday, September 2, 2011
To Sir With Love (1967) 6:30 AM - You know you're a pretty great teacher if Lulu sings a song about you! Possibly Sidney Poitier's best movie, and that's saying something since he's pretty great!
Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948) 8:00 PM - This sounds like Splash starring William Powell and Ann Blyth.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'I'm hep, daddy-o. I'm into the Ramones!'

The Ramones might not have cared about history (it just wasn't where they wanted to be), but they made it in August 1979 when they exploded on to the big screen with the cult favorite, Rock 'N' Roll High School [2]. The Queens, New York-based band shared screen time with PJ Soles (Carrie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble), Vince Van Patten, and Clint Howard in this apocalyptic teen comedy.

The premise is an easy A: PJ Soles is Riff Randell, typical Ramones-obsessed teen who ditches school to secure a ticket for the Ramones concert. But when her tickets are confiscated by Vince Lombardi High's newest and nastiest principal, Miss Togar, she has to find a replacement. Proving once and for all that teachers and parents just don't get it, an auditorium of concerned authority figures rile up the student body with a massive record burning that must have been more painful to endure than a teenage lobotomy. But, don't worry, the PTA gets it in the end! What results is a fun-fun (oh ba-by!) teen comedy for the ages that should send everyone Gabba Gabba Hey-ing all the way to the cineplex. It's a blast, literally!

Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy pack their soundtrack with some of their best and most memorable songs, though there are quite a few non-Ramone contributions (Fleetwood Mac?!). The best movie scenes are the ones that actually feature the red-hot rockers. In a sequence that is surely every teen girl's fantasy (?), Joey serenades a barely-dressed Riff with 'I Want You Arou-ound.' Later, the quartet bursts on the scene with their lamentation, 'I Just Wanna Have Something To Do' (Might I suggest having some chicken vindaloo?).

Rock 'N' Roll High School Forever was the 1991 bomb of a sequel starring Corey Feldman and a handful of lesser California punk icons. I mean, who would choose Mojo Nixon over Joey Ramone??

Saturday, August 20, 2011

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

A month just isn't enough for TCM's Summer Under The Stars series. If only it could be expanded to June through August! This month has been a real joy, and TCM did a stellar job with their twenty-four hours of thirty-one stars challenge!

Sunday, August 21, 2011 (CARY GRANT)
My Favorite Wife (1940) 9:00 AM - 'A shipwrecked woman is rescued just in time for her husband's re-marriage.' Another Irene Dunne romantic comedy!
The Bachelor And The Bobby Soxer (1940) 10:30 AM
The Philadelphia Story (1940) 3:30 PM - Most comedies from 1940 were about women remarrying Cary Grant, in fact!
North By Northwest (1959) 5:30 PM
Gunga Din (1939) 8:00 PM
Only Angels Have Wings (1939) 10:15 PM - 'A team of flyers risks their lives to deliver the mail in a mountainous South American country.' I'm told by a Tales Of The Gold Monkey expert that this was one of the major influences to the underappreciated series!
Bringing Up Baby (1938) 4:15 AM - Most comedies from 1938 were about Cary Grant and leopards!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011 (CONRAD VEIDT)
Whistling In The Dark (1941) 2:45 PM - 'A radio detective is kidnapped and forced to plan the perfect murder.' With Red Skelton and Ann Rutherford
The Hands Of Orlac (1925) 8:00 PM - 'An experimental graft gives an injured concert pianist the hands of a murderer.'
Casablanca (1942) 11:45 PM
Nazi Agent (1942) 1:45 AM - 'An Allied sympathizer discovers his twin brother is a Nazi spy.' Directed by Jules Dassin.
The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1919) 3:15 AM - 'A carnival performer uses a hypnotized sleepwalker to murder his enemies.' Oooh!
Dark Journey (1937) 4:30 AM - 'Rival spies fall in love during World War I.' With Vivien Leigh

Wednesday, August 24, 2011 (JOAN BLONDELL)
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) 2:45 PM - 'Three chorus girls fight to keep their show going and find rich husbands.' Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. This is the Gold Diggers that has Ginger Rodgers' 'We're In The Money' number. I generally found this one to be better than the later Gold Diggers movies, but it's the 1935 edition that has Busby's brilliant fifteen minute 'Lullaby Of Broadway' spectacle.
Footlight Parade (1933) 4:30 PM
Dames (1934) 9:15 PM - The last in the series of Busby Berkeley movies!
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) 2:30 AM - 'A lowly adman tries to better his lot by courting a glamorous Hollywood star.' That's quite a cast with Tony Randall, Jayne Mansfield, and Betsy Drake! Factoid: About 20 years later, Joan Blondell's character in Grease has the same name!

Thursday, August 25, 2011 (BURT LANCASTER)
The Leopard (1963) 8:00 PM - This movie is filled with beautiful people, namely the gorgeous Alain Delon.. also Claudia Cardinale. Directed by Luchino Visconti.
The Killers (1946) 11:30 PM - 'An insurance investigator uncovers a string of crimes when he tries to find a murdered boxer's beneficiary.' This movie, co-starring Ava Gardner and Edmond O'Brien, is Burt Lancaster's first movie.
Scorpio (1973) 3:45 AM - Burt Lancaster works with Alain Delon again!

[Unfortunately, TCM didn't schedule his BEST movie, Judgment At Nuremberg -- HIGHLY recommended]

Friday, August 26, 2011 (PETER LAWFORD)
It Happened In Brooklyn (1947) 6:00 PM - The song's gotta come from the heart!
Good News (1947) 8:00 PM
It Should Happen To You (1954) 10:00 PM - Kind of a silly romantic comedy with Judy Holliday, but Jack Lemmon is always so good.
Salt And Pepper (1968) 11:45 PM - Co-stars Sammy Davis, Jr

Saturday, August 27, 2011 (LINDA DARNELL)
Fallen Angel (1945) 6:00 PM - 'A man is accused of killing a waitress he had tried to seduce with his wife's money.' It's Otto Preminger so it oughtta be pretty good. Oh, and Dana Andrews stars.
A Letter To Three Wives (1948) 8:00 PM
Hangover Square (1945) 11:30 PM - 'A composer who can't control his creative temperament turns to murder.' This sounds like EVERY George Sanders movie!

Happy viewing!

Eau d'Orson

[Note: I am by no means a film student or critic, and I certainly am not a Wellesian expert. These are the inexperienced impressions of a fairly new Orson Welles fan.]

Orson Welles [2] has the reputation of being one of the earliest American auteurs known for elevating his films to an artform. It's almost inconceivable that his ultra modern camera techniques, which have retained a startling freshness that hasn't diminished with age, first graced theater screens almost seventy years ago. His innovative camera work stands out as his cinematic signature: endless long-distance shots, daring single-shot pans, and light trickery.

Welles populates his world with smugglers of illegal goods, black mailers, crooked cops, murderers, and immoral men of importance who will stop at nothing to get ahead. His aren't your average b-movie baddies. Even the beautiful women are neither the typical two-faced seductresses nor the helpless dames of the noir genre. There's a fragility that the hardened femme fatale eschews tempered with a worldliness to which truly distressed damsels cannot relate. And, of course, there are the innocent men who collide with these characters, and stumble away, dazed, by the stingle of madness. Welles' characters regularly toe the line between humanity and insanity. Perversity lurks behind many a thin veil of prosthetics, masks, and facial hair, just barely concealing the character's lunacy.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

[clockwise from top left: Matt Holness as Garth Marenghi as Dr. Rick Dagless; Richard Ayoade as Dean Learner as Thornton Reed; Alice Lowe as Madeleine Wool as Dr. Liz Asher; and Matt Berry as Todd Rivers as Dr. Lucien Sanchez. Confused??]

Fans of those lovable misfits in the basement at Reynholm Industries (The IT Crowd) will want to direct their attention to Richard Ayoade's earlier series, Garth Marenghi's Darkplace [2]. In this series-within-a-series, real-life actor Matt Holness plays Garth Marenghi, an extremely prolific horror writer who has, by his own admission, written more books than he has actually read. Marenghi was too much of a dream weaver to be bound to the written page and was commissioned by the UK Channel 4 to create a television program based on his popular tales of the strange and the macabre. He set his supernatural medical drama in a doomed hospital called Darkplace and called on the (lack of) talents of his literary agent, Dean Learner (played by Richard Ayoade), and the actors Todd Rivers (Matt Berry) and Madeleine Wool (Alice Lowe). The resulting series is a masterpiece with all the hallmarks of a typical action-drama from the 1980s, including slow-motion action sequences (special effects thanks to deanamatronix!) and cheesy electronic music ('based on melodies originally whistled by Garth Marenghi'!). Not to mention the terrible, terrible acting and ridiculous plots! The inside story goes that the series was so controversial and outre when it was first produced in the 1980s, that Channel 4 locked it up in its vaults. Twenty years after its production, the channel was finally brave enough (read: ran out of better programs) to air the series, and they quickly cobbled together a few talking heads of the living actors to complement the six unaired episodes. I don't want to spoil the plots or comment on the backstory any further. I know that it seems like a convoluted premise for a comedy series, but it pays off in many respects. Though it doesn't have much in common plot- or production-wise with one of my favorite American comedies of the past decade, Arrested Development, I feel that the two shows share a densely layered vision that is truly glorious when considered in its entirety.

Unfortunately, despite a few laps on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block, the show hasn't seen much interest in the U.S. The existing DVD package is Region 2 PAL, and there doesn't seem to be much hope that any further package will be released soon. Interested viewers must either hope to catch episodes on late night Adult Swim or turn to YouTube to get a taste of this underappreciated comedy. Until it's next turn on Adult Swim, here is a playlist of the six episodes on YouTube:

[most uploaded by Mondonitis]
Once Upon A Beginning (episode 1) - part one, two, three [thanks to Flea01]
Hell Hath No Fury (episode 2) - complete episode
Skipper The Eyechild (episode 3) - part one, two, three
The Apes Of Wrath (episode 4) - part one, two, three
Scotch Mist (episode 5) - part one, two, three
The Creeping Moss from the Shores of Shuggoth (episode 6) - part one, two, three
Select DVD extras [thanks to carthagefield]

A bit of Garth Marenghi fun is that any interviews or promotions that Richard Ayoade and Matt Holness did for the show were done in character. For the purposes of Darkplace, Holness and Ayoade don't even exist. There was even a sort of spin-off show called Man To Man With Dean Learner. Richard Ayoade reprised his character for this celebrity interview show complete with clips of fictitious movies and television shows. Matt Holness portrayed all the guests, including one appearance by Garth Marenghi himself! Each guest is creepier than the last, and, while the show isn't quite as funny as Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, it would be nice for Adult Swim to pick this one up as well. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn't appear to have any full episodes of the show at the moment.

[Richard Ayoade as Saboo on The Mighty Boosh]

There are quite a few familiar faces on a small handful of superb British comedies of the past decade. Richard Ayoade has been one of the most sought actors. He doesn't only star on the aforementioned Garth Marenghi's Darkplace; Man To Man With Dean Learner; and The IT Crowd. He also voiced the nefarious Dixon Bainbridge in the original Mighty Boosh radio show. The character only showed up on the first series of the television production, and Ayoade handed the role over to Matt Berry (also seen as Douglas Reynholm beginning on the second series of The IT Crowd). Richard made a few appearances on The Mighty Boosh, though, as the shaman Saboo. He also made some amusing appearances on various satirical Chris Morris (Denholm Reynholm), Armando Iannucci, and Charlie Brooker projects.

[The Mighty Boosh's Julian Barratt on Garth Marenghi's Darkplace]

The Mighty Boosh will require an eventual post of its own, but, for now, I will say it consists of the mod wolf, Noel Fielding (Richmond of The IT Crowd), and his jazz-loving compadre, Julian Barratt (seen above as Darkplace's priest). The Boosh is wild by comparison to both Garth Marenghi's Darkplace and The IT Crowd and may defy description. All three series of the Boosh are available in the US, and I encourage its viewing.

Other Garth Marenghi links:
Official Garth Marenghi website
Channel 4's program site

Sunday, August 14, 2011

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

TCM's Summer Under The Stars series has been so wonderful that I'm sorry to see this week will mark the half-way point! So far, the highlight for this movie fan was last Monday's Orson Welles marathon when I watched an unprecedented twelve hours' worth of his movies. (More on cinematic behemoth Orson Welles in my next post!) It looks like this week promises some great escapes! Here are some of my recommendations (check your local listings for the latest schedule).

Sunday, August 14, 2011 (RALPH BELLAMY)
His Girl Friday (1940) 8:00 PM
The Awful Truth (1937) 9:45 PM - The awful truth is this is one of my favorite Cary Grant movies!
The Narrow Corner (1933) 2:00 AM - 'A man on the run for murder tries to escape fate in the Pacific islands.' Another attempt to satisfy my desire for more Tales of the Gold Monkey.
West Of Hollywood (1931) 4:30 AM - 'A millionaire doesn't remember getting married but can't forget how much he hates his new wife.'

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 (JOANNE WOODWARD)
Paris Blues (1961) 9:45 AM - Despite the fact that this is Joanne Woodward's day, it's a good way to get caught up on the Paul Newman movies, too!
The Drowning Pool (1975) 4:00 AM - Here's a later movie she made with her husband.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 (HUMPHREY BOGART)
To Have And Have Not (1944) 11:00 AM - One of Bogart's best (after this blog's namesake, The Maltese Falcon, of course). And you don't even need to know how to whistle!
The Big Sleep (1946) 12:45 PM - You can't ever go wrong with Chandler!
They Drive By Night (1940) 4:30 PM - 'Truck driving brothers are framed for murder by a lady psycho.' A lady psycho!?!
In A Lonely Place (1950) 6:15 PM - 'An aspiring actress begins to suspect that her temperamental boyfriend is a murderer.' There was a time when I thought Gloria Grahame's best role was Ado Annie (and Rod Steiger's was Jud Fry). I cain't believe they were in other sorts of movies!
The Maltese Falcon (1941) 8:00 PM - This is the best movie ever made. It's an adaptation of one of the best books ever written. No arguments! I won't hear it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011 (JEAN GABIN)
Pepe Le Moko (1941) 8:00 PM - I've wanted to see this for a long time.

Friday, August 19, 2011 (DEBBIE REYNOLDS)
The Gazebo (1959) 8:00 PM - 'A suburban couple tries to cope with a murder victim whose body refuses to stay put.' This sounds a bit like a FUNNY version A Slight Case Of Murder but with Carl Reiner instead of Edward G. Robinson!
The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) 10:00 PM - That sounds like a challenge!
Divorce American Style (1967) 12:15 AM - Co-starring Dick Van Dyke!
Singin' In The Rain (1952) 2:15 AM - You can't have Debbie Reynolds without this movie. She's the cat's meow!

Saturday, August 20, 2011 (MONTGOMERY CLIFT)
Raintree County (1957) 6:00 AM - A tepid disappointment with a great cast, including Elizabeth Taylor and Eva Marie Saint, vying for Monty's affections. Unfortunately, this movie is known more for being the beginning of Clift's downward spiral. He incurred debilitating injuries after an off-set accident during the making of this movie, and he never recovered physically or mentally from them.
Lonelyhearts (1958) 9:00 AM - In this quality drama, Monty catches Myrna Loy's eye, and she gets him a job at her husband's newspaper as a lonelyhearts columnist.
The Big Lift (1950) 11:00 AM
Red River (1948) 1:00 PM - Montgomery Clift played opposite the Duke in one of his first big roles.
From Here To Eternity (1953) 3:30 PM - Clift plays a tormented GI on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor in this well-acted movie. Co-stars Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, and Ernest Borgnine.
The Misfits (1961) 5:45 PM - An oddly-cast Western starring a trio of quickly descending stars: Clift, Marilyn Monroe, and Clark Gable.
A Place In The Sun (1951) 8:00 PM - The pinnacle of Montgomery Clift's career, in my opinion. At the least, this was the beginning of his lifelong friendship with Elizabeth Taylor, and there was never a more beautiful couple.
The Heiress (1949) 10:15 PM - Fans of a Jane Austenesque genre would probably enjoy this one.
The Search (1948) 12:15 AM - This was Clift's first big screen motion picture.
I Confess (1953) 2:15 AM - Montgomery Clift played a priest in this Hitchcock thriller.
The Defector (1966) 4:00 AM - The week wraps up with Clift's final movie. Also starring Roddy McDowall.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

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

Hope you're all enjoying TCM's Summer Under The Stars series! I saw more movies this past week than I had the entire summer! The upcoming week is really jam-packed full of fun and brilliant movies. Note: the schedule I consulted to piece together my recommendations/personal viewing list might be incorrect now. I have Ralph Bellamy as Sunday's star, but according to commercials airing on TCM, Sunday might actually be Charles Laughton (including The Hunchback of Notre Dame at 8:00 PM). This is why you should always double check the site or look at your cable/satellite's tv guide for up-to-the-minute programming! I'm going to post according to the list I consulted. Anyway, my recommendations aren't obsolete even if the scheduling is slightly off!

Sunday, August 7, 2011 (RALPH BELLAMY)
Carefree (1938) 6:00 AM - A Freud and Ginger movie with Astaire playing a hypnotizing psychoanalyst. This is the strangest work of their pairing, but it's worth watching this oddball just for Ginger's surreal dream sequence!
His Girl Friday (1940) 8:00 PM - Cary Grant matches wits with Rosalind Russell
The Awful Truth (1937) 9:45 PM - If this is really scheduled, it's a must-watch. Ralph Bellamy plays a yokely midwestern millionaire trying to help the newly-divorced Irene Dunne forget married life with Cary Grant. Easier said than Dunne! One of the most delightful Cary Grant comedies I've ever seen (and that's really saying something!), and it also stars everyone's favorite cinematic pooch, Asta.
The Narrow Corner (1933) 2:00 AM - 'A man on the run for murder tries to escape fate in the Pacific islands.' Still looking to fill the void left by Tales of the Gold Monkey.
West Of Hollywood (1931) 4:30 AM - 'A millionaire doesn't remember getting married but can't forget how much he hates his new wife.'

Monday, August 8, 2011 (ORSON WELLES -- This is the best day of the entire Summer Under The Stars series! I can't wait!!!)
Trent's Last Case (1952) 4:30 PM
Mr. Arkadian (1962) 6:15 PM - 'A private eye investigates a millionaire's mysterious past before a murderer can get to the witnesses.'
The Third Man (1949) 8:00 PM - Exciting movie #1! I can practically hear the zithers right now!!!
Citizen Kane (1941) 10:00 PM
Touch Of Evil (1958) 12:15 AM - Exciting movie #2! Charleston Heston is a Mexican narcotics agent who gets mixed up in a dangerous case made more complicated by a crooked cop (Welles). With Janet Leigh as Heston's wife. This is a cinematic treat!
The Lady From Shanghai (1948) 2:00 AM - Exciting movie #3! Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles clash over the Lady From Shanghai (Rita Hayworth). While Orson Welles was allegedly unhappy with aspects of this film, the fun house scene is considered one of the finest of the genre. This and The Third Man are my picks for the evening (although, Touch Of Evil isn't far behind!)
F For Fake (1977) 4:00 AM - 'Director Orson Welles examines the career of a notorious art forger.'

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 (ANN DVORAK)
Three On A Match (1932) 9:45 PM - 'A woman's childhood friends try to rescue her from gangsters.' A great cast with Joan Blondell and the inimitable Bette Davis.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011 (SHIRLEY MACLAINE)
Irma La Douce (1963) 2:00 PM - I thought this Jack Lemmon / Shirley MacLaine movie about a down-and-out gendarme and his (ex-) streetwalker girlfriend was kind of cute...
The Apartment (1960) 8:00 PM - much so that I'm going to finally watch Wilder's beloved classic The Apartment that features the same pair (plus Fred MacMurray).
Some Came Running (1958) 10:30 PM - 'A veteran returns home to deal with family secrets and small-town scandals.' A popular plot. Directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Thursday, August 11, 2011 (BEN JOHNSON)
The Last Picture Show (1971) 1:15 AM - One of those 1970s movies that has a large cast of actors before they became very famous.

Friday, August 12, 2011 (CLAUDETTE COLBERT)
Midnight (1939) 8:00 PM - 'An unemployed showgirl poses as Hungarian royalty to infiltrate Parisian society.'
It Happened One Night (1934) 11:30 PM - You can never go wrong with this Frank Capra winner.
Since You Went Away (1944) 1:30 AM - 'A mother and wife struggle to cope while her husband is off serving in World War II.' With Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten

Saturday, August 13, 2011 (JIMMY STEWART)
Vivacious Lady (1937) 12:45 PM - My favorite Jimmy Stewart comedy! Professor Stewart brings home his new wife, a nightclub singer (Ginger Rogers), to meet his conservative family.
Bell, Book And Candle (1959) 4:15 PM
Anatomy Of A Murder (1959) 12:00 AM - Great courtroom thriller with a cool jazzy Duke Ellington soundtrack
The Murder Man (1935) 2:45 AM - 'A hard-drinking reporter specializes in murder cases, until he becomes a suspect in one himself.' With Spencer Tracy and Virginia Bruce.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Whatever Happened To Pudding Pops?

Pop Culture Encyclopedias

X-TINCTION RATING: Revised and revived.

Revised and revived by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont's new book Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?: The Lost Toys, Tastes & Trends of the '70s & '80s (Perigee Books, 2011).

My bookcase dips in the middle under the weight of my pop culture library. From the massive, all-inclusive ABBA To Zoom to the pocket-sized Guilty Pleasures and bridging the gap between the anecdotal, countercultural RetroHell [1970s-1980s] from the writers of the Ben Is Dead zine to the pseudo-intellectual snooze that is alt.culture [1990s], you would think that another paean to pop cultural memories would be as necessary as a new Planet of the Apes movie.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I was inspired by some of Marlon Brando's words of wisdom during a few flicks from TCM's Summer Under The Stars schedule today. He coulda been a lawyer (or, at least, a politician)!

'Now, we got here in the state of Louisiana what's known as the Napoleonic code. You see, now according to that, what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband also, and vice versa... It looks to me like you've been swindled baby. And when you get swindled under Napoleonic code, I get swindled too and I don't like to get swindled.' (A Streetcar Named Desire)

'Hey, you wanna hear my philosophy of life? Do it to him before he does it to you.' (On The Waterfront)

'It is my understanding that the Constitution allows everybody the free choice
between cheesecake and strudel.' (Guys And Dolls)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Nick Knack, the 90s are Back!

The 90s Were All That!!, according to the folks at TeenNick, which debuted a new weeknight block of retro-themed programming celebrating those bygone, heady days of the... 1990s!? Yes, apparently, it's never too early to reminisce fondly over your lost childhood.

Eat your heart out, Harvey Kinkle!

Here's the line-up, so far:
All That, a Saturday Night Live-styled show for kids which aired from 1994 until 2005. Notable alumni include Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Amanda Bynes, and Nick "Mr. Mariah" Cannon.
Kenan And Kel spun off into their own show in 1996 (until 2000). I was thrilled to see a familiar face in the cast, Dan Frischman (Arvid, everyone's favorite nerd from Head Of The Class), whose future was so bright that he had to wear shades! Case in point: Frischman played both 'guy on phone' on an episode of Seinfeld and County Records Clerk on Melrose Place. And, yes, I do remember both episodes!
Clarissa Explains It All, Melissa Joan Hart's first television series. Not quite as good as Sabrina, but that would really be expecting too much of a tv show!
Doug, a cute animated series which began in 1991.

Marc Summers wondering how they get the creme in the middle of the Twinkie

So far, the reception has been wildly enthusiastic. TeenNick, never a contender for highest ratings in that particular scheduling block, received an impressive ratings boost during its first week, and certain social networks were all a-twitter with comments relating to the programming. The apparent success of the endeavor makes a curious viewer wonder if Nickelodeon will be expanding their new schedule with more blasts from the past. The hypnotic megamix commercial that TeenNick drums into our brains while we're watching this super-sweet block of programming shows copious clips of Double Dare, which I HOPE will soon be added. After all, who doesn't love Marc Summers? Just think, you could watch Double Dare and then tune into the Food Network to see what he's been eating on Unwrapped!

Retro programming on cable is not a new concept, of course. The HUB has been doing it for almost a year. They've been airing an exciting collection of older family-centric programming every weeknight (including The Wonder Years, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, Family Ties, Doogie Howser MD, and Batman). They relaunched three popular 1980s cartoons, Jem; Transformers; and G.I. Joe; and they added revamped versions of My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake to their channel, but they are noticeably inferior to the original series that launched many girls' playtimes. Speaking of revamped 1980s animated series, Cartoon Network aired the first episode of its new version of Thundercats, a favorite of mine in the 1980s, on Friday night at 8:00 PM. Sadly, it didn't reignite my love of the franchise. Perhaps Thundercats was never a very good show to begin with, or, maybe this version is too different. Interestingly, Will Friedle, who played Ben Savage's cuter older brother on Boy Meets World, voiced Lion-O in this new version. Personally, I would prefer to stick to Cartoon Network's superior Boomerang channel to satisfy my itch for old cartoons. It's a sure bet since it airs mostly classics from the 1960s to 1980s.

While The HUB is a breath of fresh air, it's surely taking inspiration from the once glorious Nick At Nite. I'm still gutted at the poor state of Nick At Nite and its younger sibling, TV Land. Both have become disappointing wastelands airing non-remarkable and fairly recent crap like The George Lopez Show and The Nanny. Three's Company is great, but it begs the question: how much Mr. Furley can one really take? (Also, 'did the production team spend all their money on Mr. Furley's medallions?,' but that's a different issue for a future post) What happened to Nickelodeon's mission to provide CLASSIC tv programming to the masses? I have to assume they felt that they had exhausted people with the timeless, and they wanted to appeal to an audience with lower expectations. I hope that the Nickelodeon programmers will take a cue from the popularity of their 90s block and bring back the 80s.. and the 70s.. and the 60s.. and the 50s..! Wouldn't it be great if they would repopulate their schedule with fun and innovative programming again? I should also add that the Nickelodeon channel predated these 1990s shows by about a decade, and while these might have been what put Nick on the map, it would be great for them to open their vault doors a little wider.

Other cable and non-cable channels should take a hint, too! Comedy Central, for example, used to be a decent channel but now only shows random guys narrating lame YouTube videos and unfunny comedians I've never heard of doing terrible stand-up routines. I'd be willing to fashion a whole new schedule of 'oldie' Comedy Central programs for them!

My retro dream channel, however, would be devoted to vintage PBS. Old PBS children's programming can't be beaten by anything that's on television today. From whole episodes of classic Sesame Street, Electric Company, and Mr. Rogers through 3-2-1 Contact, Square One TV, and Reading Rainbow -- not to mention the best geographical game show ever, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego? -- this would be a fantastic idea and a huge draw to PBS. In fact, I bet they would see a boost in donations if they would reinstate some of their better fare. Personally, I think we all could use a review of these fun, educational gems. Sometimes one forgets letters of the alphabet, how to add, and how to form a proper sentence. We're probably also lacking in basic science and geographical knowledge, as well as the gentle art of civility as taught to us by Mr. Fred Rogers. Leave out the Bar(lo)ney, Clifford, and Elmo! Make that E in "E/I" count, PBS!

Well, one can dream about these ultimate schedules, but Nick's new programming block is a step in the right direction, and I recommend tuning in every weeknight (from 12 to 2 AM EST) if you were a fan of any of these shows that were, you know, all that!

[The 90s Were All That block 12 AM - 2 AM (reshown 2 AM - 4 AM) TeenNick channel, Monday-Friday. Check your local listings and the official website]

Saturday, July 30, 2011

This week on... TCM (July 31 - August 6)

Hoo boy! Summer is finally heating up on Turner Classic Movies! Monday, August 1 marks the first day of their 'Summer Under The Stars' series which offers up 24 hour blocks of films devoted to thirty-one spectacular stars. Not convinced? Star #1 is Marlon Brando! I'll say he is! So far, I had been less than thrilled with the selection of movies this year. In 2010, I had already watched 161 different films by late July. This year, I've only watched 63 (though, I haven't included any multiple-viewed movies in that tally)! Well, August is going to put me in a much more respectable range, I should think! Hopefully you'll find some good movies to watch, too. There are some daily schedules that are so good, I can barely stand it! Which of these movies are your essentials? [If you can't wait for my weekly picks and want to look at the schedule directly, go to the official page and download the .pdf schedule right now!]

Sunday, July 31, 2011
Harper (1966) 2:00 PM - This one is on a bit early for me, unfortunately, but I highly recommend it to Paul Newman fans who also have a soft spot for film noir detective stories. Harper may not be Sam Spade, but he is just about the hottest detective you'll ever see!
Road To Utopia (1946) 8:00 PM - Those two singing and wise-cracking dopes take on the Alaskan gold rush.

Monday, August 1, 2011 (A DAY OF MARLON BRANDO!)
The Fugitive Kind (1960) 6:00 AM - Argh, I can't believe they're starting with this! This is one of the few Marlon Brando movies I've never seen, and it's still from the era when you could expect something exciting from Brando's acting. This Sidney Lumet film is based off the Tennessee Williams play and co-stars Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward.
Julius Caesar (1953) 8:15 AM
The Chase (1966) 10:30 AM
Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967) 1:00 PM - Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor?, you think. That has to be good! Well, it's not, I assure you. It's terrible in every possible way.
The Teahouse Of The August Moon (1956) 3:00 PM
Guys And Dolls (1955) 5:15 PM - My last attempt to watch this was interrupted by Mother Nature, so I'll give it another go. It's not as bad as I expected.
The Wild One (1953) 8:00 PM
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 9:30 PM
On The Waterfront (1954) 12:00 AM - If you haven't seen this and you have to choose just one Marlon Brando movie, this is the one to choose.
The Freshman (1990) 2:00 AM
The Formula (1980) 4:00 AM

[I'm most disappointed that they didn't include Marlon's 1950 screen debut in The Men. It's supposed to be an excellent movie!]

Tuesday, August 2, 2011 (PAULETTE GODDARD)
Second Chorus (1940) 4:45 PM - With Fred Astaire and Burgess Meredith
Modern Times (1936) 6:30 PM [a link to my favorite scene on YouTube]
The Great Dictator (1940) 8:00 PM

[There are probably some fun, light comedies interspersed with these movies, so it might be worth tuning in at other hours.]

Wednesday, August 3, 2011 (BETTE DAVIS -- What a dame!)
The Letter (1940) 4:30 PM
The Petrified Forest (1936) 6:30 PM

Thursday, August 4, 2011 (RONALD COLMAN -- Someone with a terribly painful voice might have sung about Bette Davis' eyes, but a much better singer and his talented song-writing brother name-dropped Ronald Colman in their ode to moustaches)
Lucky Partners (1940) 6:00 AM - According to my trusty movie log, I enjoyed this movie pairing Colman with Ginger Rogers last year, but I can't really remember it very well.
Raffles (1930) 1:30 PM - 'A distinguished British gentleman hides his true identity as a notorious jewel thief'. I always say, 'If you must be a thief, you may as well be a gentleman thief.'
Lost Horizon (1937) 1:45 AM
The Story Of Mankind(1957) 4:00 AM - 'Satan and the spirit of mankind contend for the future of humanity'. What an interesting cast: Vincent Price, Groucho Marx, and Ronald Colman (in his final movie)!

Friday, August 5, 2011 (JOHN GARFIELD)
Humoresque (1946) 4:45 PM - I'd put up with Joan Crawford to see Oscar Levant!
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) 8:00 PM - This is a film noir classic, and there is a legitimate reason for that. This is one of the essential must-watch films for this week!
He Ran All The Way (1951) 2:00 AM - 'A crook on the run hides out in an innocent girl's apartment'. This is John Garfield's last movie, and it co-stars Shelley Winters. Poor Shelley Winters. Things always end really bad for her. It's always a shame to see her sad, little face.

Saturday, August 6, 2011 (LUCILLE BALL) -- In honor of her hundredth birthday!
The Fuller Brush Girl (1950) 1:00 PM - It looks like this is one of my favorite genres, the comedy whodunit!
The Long, Long Trailer (1954) 2:30 PM
Easy To Wed (1946) 11:30 PM - A musical remake of Libeled Lady (one of my favorite comedies starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, and Myrna Loy). This remake stars the singing mermaid, Esther Williams and Van Johnson; hopefully, what with that lack-luster cast, Lucy will be the Belle of the Ball.
Lured (1946) 1:30 AM - Before we knew why we loved Lucy, Ball starred in this multi-faceted noir as an undercover agent hoping to help the police catch a creepy serial killer who preys on women who respond to the lonelyhearts column. George Sanders gives another interesting performance as his typical cad who may or may not be the man they are after. Boris Karloff steals the movie as a mad artist. I thought this was a pretty high quality noir, most definitely worthy of multiple viewings.
The Affairs Of Annabel (1938) 3:15 AM

Stay tuned for next week's schedule.. There is a block of movies early in the week that just about knocks me out!