Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Coming distractions

TCM already has their tentative October 2009 schedule up, and naturally they’ll be supplementing the usual classic movie fare with horror films (which also means that The Retropolitan will soon be roused from hibernation) concentrating on the Val Lewton classics, some Columbia features starring Boris Karloff (The Black Room, The Man They Could Not Hang) and productions by the old schlockmeister himself, William Castle—including the rarely-shown (and there’s a reason for it, it’s unbelievably awful) 13 Frightened Girls! (1963, October 8, 1:15pm EST). I’m particularly jazzed that TCM will feature the pre-Code cult horror Murders in the Zoo (1933, October 31, 10:00pm EST), which I haven’t seen since I sold my VCR.

October 5th will usher in a mini-marathon of Whistler films, based on the popular radio mystery anthology series heard on CBS Radio (mostly on the West Coast); Castle himself directed a few of the early entries--The Whistler (1944, 6:00am EST), Voice of the Whistler (1945, 8:30am EST) and Mysterious Intruder (1946, 9:45am EST) (the remaining Castle “Whistler,” The Mark of the Whistler [1944] is not on the schedule). The other three films scheduled are The Power of the Whistler (1945, 7:15am EST), The Secret of the Whistler (1946, 11:00am EST) and the final entry, The Return of the Whistler (1948, 12:15pm EST). If you’re still able to maintain a pucker after these six films, Turner Classic Movies will continue with Red Skelton’s “Whistling” trilogy starting at 1:30pm EST with Whistling in the Dark (1941). I had planned, once upon a time, to do a post about all the Whistler films but since Vince Keenan beat me to it sometime back (in one, two, three and four parts) I decided I really didn’t need to generate any more paper from the Department of Redundancy Department.

On October 8th, I noticed a couple of rarities that I’ve had on my must-see list for quite some time—one is Black Moon (1934, 3:30am EST), a bizarre voodoo-in-the-jungle melodrama helmed by one of my favorite B-movie directors, Roy William Neill. Neill may or may not be a familiar name to all and sundry but he was generally considered by his peers a talented craftsman capable of transforming low-budget movies into elegant works of art. Among his notable celluloid contributions: the previously mentioned The Black Room (1935) with Boris Karloff, The Lone Wolf Returns (1935), all of the Sherlock Holmes Universal films (with the exception of the first, Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror [1942]), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943) and Black Angel (1946). Neill retired in 1946 and sailed back to his home in England, wanting nothing more than to live the life of a country squire…and dropped dead of a heart attack while visiting relatives (though I’ve also heard that he expired just as he was crossing the threshold of his estate). TCM showed a batch of Columbia pre-Codes last Friday and one of them was The Good Bad Girl (1931), which Neill directed—and which I’ve recorded but have not seen yet.
The other film—which follows Moon at 4:45am—is Oscar “Budd” Boetticher’s The Missing Juror (1944), an extremely rare example of early noir starring Jim Bannon, Janis Carter, George Macready and Joseph Crehan. I’ve never seen it, and was kind of disappointed when TCM left it out of their Boetticher tribute a few weeks ago—so I will definitely have the DVD recorder at the ready for this little gem.

October 14 will spotlight a Lillian Gish film festival in the morning and afternoon hours—if you haven’t seen The White Sister (1923) yet (and want proof that Gish is sexier in a nun’s habit than Ingrid Bergman) it will be shown at 7:00am EST, but I’ll be readying the DVD recorder for La boheme (1926, 9:15am EST), The Scarlet Letter (1926, 11:00am EST) and one of the greatest silent films of all time, The Wind (1928, 12:45pm EST). Then starting at 8:00pm, TCM will do something it rarely finds occasion to do—showcase the woefully underrated comedy team of Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey in The Cuckoos (1930), Hook, Line and Sinker (1930), Caught Plastered (1931) and Peach-O-Reno (1931). (Are you listening, Mr. Brooks?)
The last item on the agenda is probably of interest only to myself, simply because I enjoy offbeat and cult movies—and they don’t come any more offbeat-er when TCM Underground doffs its cap to Robert Downey (Senior, not Junior) on October 23 with showings of his two best-known films, Putney Swope (1969, 2:15am EST) and Greaser's Palace (1972, 3:45am EST). “Rockin’ the boat’s a drag—you gotta sink the boat!”


Hal said...

Great to see some more prime W&W on TCM; in recent years they were airing the lesser, latter day W&W vehicles like HIGH FLYERS and MUMMY'S BOYS instead of the early stuff. Still wish they could have found time for HIPS, HIPS, HOORAY and HOLD 'EM JAIL, and really wish we could get a DVD of DIPLOMANIACS already.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

The only thing I can add to this is that TCM will be running Hips, Hips, Hooray this July 29th at 8pm. Set your TiVos!