Scaramouche (1952) – TCM’s Star of the Month is Stewart Granger, and while I can’t honestly consider myself a member of his corner (he kind of reminds me of a British Clark Gable…although I’ll readily confess that’s a little too harsh) he did appear in a number of films that I thought were first-rate: King Solomon's Mines (1950), Footsteps in the Fog (1955), North to Alaska (1960), The Secret Invasion (1964), etc. (all of which with the exception of Alaska will be shown on TCM this month) and starred on TV’s The Virginian in its final season (1970-71) when it was re-christened The Men From Shiloh. But this film, an action-packed swashbuckler based on the novel by Rafael Sabatini (and previously filmed as a silent picture in 1923, a DVD-R of which is available through the Warner Archive), is definitely my favorite and arguably his best. Granger is Andre Moreau, a happy-go-lucky bastard nobleman who cares very little about the political situation of the day (it’s just the French Revolution, that’s all) but begins to develop a social conscience when his best friend/surrogate brother Philippe de Valmorin (Richard Anderson) is killed by the Marquis de Maynes (Mel Ferrer) after de Maynes discovers Philippe is in actuality Marcus Brutus—author and distributor of a pamphlet that’s rousing the “rabble” into open revolt. Branded a traitor by the Marquis, Moreau hides out in a theatrical troupe and masquerades as the clownish comedian of the film’s title (which also allows him to romance his long-suffering girlfriend, played by a never-more-beautiful Eleanor Parker) while trying to keep an eye on the equally lovely Aline de Gavrillac de Bourbon (Janet Leigh).
Scaramouche is a favorite film of mine for several reasons: its source material is wonderfully written, with plot twists and turns that will definitely have you wondering what’s around the corner. Both Parker and Leigh are drop-dead-gorgeous in this, decked to the nines in breathtaking finery but at the same time playing independent, admirable females that are surely ahead of the story’s time period. I think director George Sidney was the right choice to direct Scaramouche; normally associated with splashy, colorful musicals (The Harvey Girls, Show Boat)
Angels in the Outfield (1951) – In his anecdotal history of old-time radio entitled The Great American Broadcast, Leonard Maltin remarks that actor Paul Douglas’ (who in this point in his career worked as a CBS Radio announcer) “bombastic personality never won him any popularity contests among his colleagues.” I’ve read similar anecdotes that Douglas remained the same once he made it in Hollywood—and if that is indeed the case, then Paul Douglas may be the best actor in movie history. He pretty much played the same character in every film—a down-to-earth, king-sized galoot who just needed his rough edges sandpapered down a bit—but he was lovable and easy to root for in practically all of his films, including Everybody Does It (1949), Panic in the Streets (1950), Fourteen Hours (1951), We're Not Married! (1952) and The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956).
This gentle fantasy-comedy doesn’t play as goopy as you would expect;