"I'm hoping he is using his "lay low" time to rest up and on, what we all know must be, piles and piles and piles of movies." -- Pam R
I’d like to be able to report that I’ve been diving into the aforementioned piles and piles and piles of movies…but that would be a falsehood. You see, my mother is staying with me at Rancho Yesteryear during my recuperation, and what entertains me doesn’t always tickle her fancy, so I try to find something we can both enjoy.
As I’m typing this, Mom’s in the other room watching Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943). She positively adores the Rathbone-Bruce Holmes films, and since I acquired her MPI DVD collection through shrewd guile and deceit she insists that I “put one on” for her at least once a day. (This is cool with me, as it allows me to collect my thoughts and whip up something for the blog.)
I caught Side Street (1950) this morning, even though I have it on DVD—it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, however, and it’s a capable little noir starring the hapless Farley Granger as a postal carrier who stupidly steals $30,000 from a crooked lawyer (Edmon Ryan) and then finds himself…wait for it…in big trouble. Cathy O’Donnell—Granger’s co-star from They Live by Night (1948)—plays the devoted spouse here (though she’s given bupkis to do) and there are plenty of TDOY faves present and accounted for, like Jean Hagen (as a torch singer who can lap up the booze), Charles McGraw (as one of the detectives working the case), Adele Jergens, Harry Bellaver (as a crooked cabbie), Whit Bissell and uncredited contributions from James Westerfield, Herb Vigran, Sid Tomack, Ransom Sherman, Sarah Selby and King Donovan. I particularly enjoyed director Anthony Mann’s use of close-ups in this one, as well as the climactic car chase through
I also watched Warren William, Mary Astor and star of the month Ginger Rogers in a curio entitled Upperworld (1934) that was certainly worth the hour-and-thirteen-minutes I invested (though the ending is a bit weak). William is surprisingly likeable as a railroad tycoon who gets involved with
Monday night, Mom and I sat down to watch one of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s favorite movies (well, he was hosting the program along with Bobby Osbo), The Big Sleep (1946). Maybe it was because I’ve seen the movie so many times or maybe I was just antsy but I didn’t enjoy Sleep as much as I have in the past. If you really look at the movie, I think you’ll find that the only purpose it serves is to allow Bogie and Bacall to flirt with one another for two hours. The plot is confusing and at times just plain dull; the characters uninvolving—I remain convinced that Murder, My Sweet (1944) is the best cinematic representation of Philip Marlowe (and Mom and I watched it the next day so I could prove it to her); Bogart is aces as Sam Spade but as Marlowe he leaves a lot to be desired. After Sweet, we sated our noir appetites with Gun Crazy (1950)—which, again, I was surprised that Mom took to even though the only person she knew in the movie was Russ Tamblyn.
Yesterday, I opened up one of the I Spy box sets from Image Entertainment and watched three episodes as a mini-tribute to the late Robert Culp: “Carry Me Back to Old Tsing-Tao” (09/29/65), “Danny Was a Million Laughs” (10/27/65) and “Affair in T’Sien Cha” (12/29/65—actually the series’ pilot). The episodes confirmed for me just how great an actor the man was and how truly devastating is his loss—though Mom was a bit underwhelmed by the presentation (Mom: “Where are they supposed to be?” Me: “
While I was scribbling down these thoughts, I was delighted to receive a dozen red roses from my friend Maureen. I couldn’t close out this post without mentioning this generosity—thanks, Doll.