Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The File on Barbara Stanwyck

TCM has been running Barbara Stanwyck films all day today as part of their Summer of Stars Festival and I was worried about missing some of them because I had some outside projects to complete. Fortunately, the good stuff isn’t on until 9:30pm, when Turner will show The File on Thelma Jordon (1950), a nifty noir directed by Robert Siodmak (he’s everywhere!) that lets Babs be b-b-b-bad to the bone by making a complete doofus out of D.A. Wendell Corey. It’s not available on DVD yet, so I’m definitely got it on my to-watch list; I’ve only seen bits and pieces of it but the ironical thing is I pretty much know the plot because I listened to a radio adaptation (on Screen Director’s Playhouse, from March 15, 1951) on Victor Ives’ Golden Age of Radio Theater back in the early 1980s on Savannah’s WWSA-AM. Playhouse did quite a few radio broadcasts of Stanwyck’s movies during its brief two-year run, including Remember the Night, No Man of Her Own, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and The Lady Gambles. (I haven’t seen GamblesThe Lost Weekend of gambling addiction films—since it was shown briefly on AMC in the 1990s. And people wonder why I’m still holding a grudge.)

Following Jordon is Witness to Murder (1954), another Stanwyck noir that was on a month or two ago but I missed all but the last twenty minutes because that was the day I made the trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new photo I.D. So I’m glad I’m getting a second opportunity to watch it, and I hope to have a pair of mini-reviews for tomorrow. (For those of you who are game, TCM follows Murder with Crime of Passion [1957], another definitely-worth-your-time Babs noir that I’ve already seen…I’ll have probably hit the hay by then.)

While I’m on the subject of Stanwyck, the UPS guy brought me my Criterion Collection copy of The Furies (1950) Monday and I almost needed a truss to get it into the house. You see, included with the restored high-definition digital transfer is a big honkin’ booklet containing a new essay on the film by Robin Wood, a Cahiers du cinéma interview with director Anthony Mann and a new printing of Niven Busch’s original novel. (I snapped this puppy up at Deep Discount.com when they were having a two-for-one Criterion sale—the other disc I bought is their Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) DVD, which should be arriving some time this week.) Described by Thad K. as “a wonderfully bat-shit crazy movie…like released from the gates of Hell…” David Phelps at The Auteur’s Notebook has a nice piece on the picture, complete with screen caps.

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