Since I thought this past weekend was going to be a busy one, what with some projects I was working on and the like, I slacked off on last week’s Serial Saturdays and Doris Day(s) and instead finished up a couple of reviews for ClassicFlix—one of which has already been posted, Day of the Outlaw (1959). I also peeked at some free HBO/Cinemax that U-Verse was nice enough to gift us, but mostly got caught up on some items that I had stashed on the DVR:
Stranded on the slightly-moist island of Pago Pago (that’s where the titular precipitation comes in), good-time gal Sadie Thompson (Joan Crawford) whoops it up with a group of American soldiers stationed there…much to the disapproval of the bluenose wife (Beulah Bondi) of fire-and-brimstone preacher Alfred Davidson (Walter Huston), who uses his considerable political muscle on the island’s guv’nor to threaten Sadie’s deportation. Sadie seeks salvation and redemption from the right Reverend Alfred…but is it all a con on her part?
Toby) in Athens while the two films aired. The best way I can describe Parade is that it’s an elongated Crime Does Not Pay short subject; the effects of Prohibition are demonstrated on two families, one headed up by Southerner Lewis Stone—Stone commits suicide when he finds himself unable to resist the power of demon rum, and we follow his two children (Dorothy Jordan, Neil Hamilton) up North where a similar situation befalls Huston (he’s unable to get booze once Prohibition kicks in, and he’s forced to drink paint thinner before killing his wife in a rage). Huston’s son, played by Robert Young, turns Elliot Ness and becomes a T-Man to atone for his father’s dipsomaniac misdeeds.
The person who cast Jimmy Durante as Young’s fellow Fed gets major props (though they missed an opportunity to have Durante say during his death scene: “I’m SUR-rounded by assassins!”), and though I only caught a glimpse of him from the side I picked out Max Davidson as the store owner (other thesps I noticed with amusement include Heinie Conklin and Clarence Wilson). Huston’s blustery father didn’t quite work for me, but I thought everyone else did fine. Oh, and Myrna Loy plays a blonde floozy who takes a powder on Neil “Commissioner Gordon” Hamilton after Hamilton downs some bad liquor that renders him sightless. (Thanks a lot, Miss Perfect Wife.)
Wilson is a naïve ditz who inherits a grand from her deceased grandpap and keeps getting richer and richer despite the constant efforts of Jenkins and Charley Foy to separate her from her winnings. (Colonna plays a chef in a greasy spoon Marie finds work in as a waitress, where she meets her paramour in Johnnie “Scat” Davis.)
I was a little disappointed that the interactions between Wilson and Jenkins weren’t sharper (the best exchange is when Allen tells her “You need a keeper!” and she innocently responds “Oh…how much would one cost?”) but this didn’t keep me from loving Wilson in this movie…and let’s be honest, it’s less than an hour long—it’s not like it’s going to take a huge chunk out of your life or anything. Added bonus: Jimmy Cagney impersonator Frankie Burke shows up as a jockey, and his character’s name—Chalky Williams—is also the name of an actor who plays a bit part in Cagney’s A Lion is in the Streets (1953) (see separate entry).
I won’t begrudge Gardner getting upset…but I thought Granny was a real pip; May Robson plays a feisty senior citizen whose granddaughter (Margot Stevenson) refuses to take her advice in her divorce proceedings with wanker Hardie Albright. Albright later turns up dead in a trailer court bungalow, and May confesses to the crime to keep Stevenson out of the pokey (she’s got a young daughter).
What makes Granny such a pleasurable romp is the first-rate chemistry between Robson and her questionably competent lawyer, TDOY fave Harry Davenport—Harry’s character has a fondness for the good stuff and he’s constantly misplacing shot glasses filled with whiskey he’s put down to look respectable (“How did that get there?”). May and Harry are worth the price of admission, and Clem Bevans steals a few scenes as Davenport’s “assistant” (the bit where he held his hand out for Harry’s shot glass made me guffaw heartily). Pity someone didn’t think about instituting a series based on this short-and-sweet mystery-comedy.
Quinn is Charley Eagle, a Native American rancher who has dreams of entering a horse in the Kentucky Derby. He may get his wish in the titular equine, a colt he obtained by mating the horse’s ma with a champion owned by a Colonel Caldwell (Thurston Hall).
Filling in the background on this story is an orphan named Davey (‘Ducky’ Louie), whose father was killed by coyotes (not the animal kind) smuggling him and his pop over the Mexican border; Davey is later adopted by Charley and his wife Sarah (Katherine DeMille), who become fabulously wealthy when oil is discovered on their property. (Black Gold also features a message about racial tolerance.) The movie is a surprisingly engaging B-pic, though Louie’s histrionics will get on your nerves after a fashion. Raymond Hatton, Kane Richmond, Moroni Olsen, Jonathan Hale and Elyse Knox round out a splendid cast…but DeMille, as Quinn’s stoic spouse (which she was in real life as well), is the best thing in the movie.
James Cagney plays Hank Martin, a traveling peddler in a small Southern town who proves quite effective at stirring up resentment among the sharecroppers toward the local cotton gin owner (played by Larry Keating…This is Your FBI!). Hank uses the trial of a friend (John McIntire) accused of murder (for killing one of Keating’s goons) to start building a political base for a gubernatorial run; he ends up having to compromise his principles with a power broker (Onslow Stevens) to secure the vote…and like Willie Stark, this leads to his eventual downfall.
Cagney’s character is described as “charismatic” but I didn’t kind him particularly captivating—I kept thinking “All Jimmy needs are a few teachers to yell at and he’d be Chris Christie with a Southern drawl.” I also had difficulty believing why Barbara Hale—who plays Hank’s wife Verity (her nickname is “Sweet Face,” which reminded me of Wallace Wimple’s rarely-seen wife Sweetyface on Fibber McGee & Molly)—continued to stay with Cagney’s Martin when it’s become pretty evident he’s a dick (and an unfaithful one at that; he diddles around with Anne Francis on the side). Jeanne Cagney plays John McIntire’s wife, which I thought was nice since Jeanne’s film career was kind of brief; A Lion is in the Streets was really a family affair—Jimmy and Jeanne’s brother William was producer of the last film to bear the “William Cagney Productions” banner. (It was also the last movie Jimmy made with character great Frank McHugh.)
The Legend of the Lone Ranger. It matters not one whit to me, however; Lost City of Gold was a lot of fun for both myself and my mother (she loves that masked man so) as it tells the tale of five silver medallions which, when assembled properly, will reveal the location of the titular burg. The Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore—and no one else, podnuh) and Tonto (Jay Silverheels) attempt to reveal the mystery villain who’s killing off the medallion owners (and they also get in a racial tolerance lesson as well). Lone Ranger fans will love it.
My Blood Runs Cold spotlights TDOY fave Jeanette Nolan, who models this funky bit of millinery:
Blood stars Joey Heatherton as a spoiled socialite who can’t shake the attentions of a drifter (Troy Donahue) she nearly ran down with her automobile; he confides in her that he believes himself to be the reincarnation of a man who was mahdly in love with Joey’s great-great grandmamma. It won’t take long for the viewer to suspect that something is rotten in Denmark (though the movie takes too much time for the big reveal, which is why I nicknamed this one “My Foot Falls Asleep”). I bow to no one in my respect for Conrad’s incredible talent, but film directing is something he should have stayed away from (he seemed to do okay on the small screen, though). Donahue and Heatherton make a most unappealing couple, and Barry Sullivan plays—here’s a stunner—a complete asshole. (Conrad himself does the Fugitive-like narration at the beginning, and can be heard on a police radio as a deputy sheriff.)
The high-wattage acting of Gish, Davis, Price (I just loved him in this) and Ann Sothern (as the sisters’ best friend is reason enough to cozy up to this one; plus the fact Sothern garnered an Oscar nom for her performance) makes this a must-see for classic movie fans. (This inspiring quartet is joined by Harry Carey, Jr. as a cantankerous handyman.) Mesmerizingly directed by Lindsay Anderson (Mike Fash’s lush cinematography makes me want to go rent a cottage on my own), August also features Sothern’s daughter Tisha Sterling playing the younger version of her character in a flashback, with Margaret Ladd as the young Libby and Mary Steenburgen as Sarah.