Tuesday, January 27, 2009

“When are you coming to church, Jed?”

Yesterday was washday at Rancho Yesteryear, and no sooner had I started with the washer-dryer duties when I got a call from my mother, inviting me over to dine with her and a man who, when properly leant upon, will confess to being my father.

Always great to get an invitation to dinner, because as we know from the varied Tales of the Half-Assed Gourmand—that means I don’t have to cook. Dinner was superb, as always: baked chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, rolls and salad…and the pizza de resistance, a slice of cocoanut cream cake.

I went over to the ‘rents around 4-ish, and Mom and I had planned to watch some Everybody Loves Raymond repeats but sister Kat had already erased them from her DVR. This is when we discovered that she had, curiously enough, taped the 1962 version of Cape Fear…which we proceeded to sit down and watch. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that my sister reacts to black-and-white movies the way a vampire reacts to garlic bread—so we’re still wondering why she bothered to record the film. (I’m guessing that because many of the movie’s scenes were filmed in Savannah she might have wanted it to show some of her friends.)

When I got home around 8:30pm, I made plans to sit down and revisit Marty (1955), the Academy Award winner for Best Picture that stars Ernest Borgnine (the Best Actor Oscar winner as well) as a Brooklyn butcher who resigns himself to a state of bachelorhood until he meets a shrinking violet of a schoolteacher at the Stardust Ballroom, played by Betsy Blair. (I’m pretty sure it was Blair this time.) Marty has always been a running gag around Casa del Shreve for as long as I can remember, simply because my father and I like to imitate the people in the movie who spring forth with deathless dialogue like “Whaddya wanna do tonight, Marty?” “I dunno—whaddya wanna do?” Now, I like Borgnine’s performance in the film—a schlub who you can’t help but feel an affinity for—but I’ve never thought the movie was Best Picture material, particularly when so many other great movies released that year (Kiss Me Deadly, The Night of the Hunter, Bad Day at Black Rock) weren’t even nominated. Still, it remains a feel-good watch; I always forget that Frank Sutton has a bit part in this picture and it’s refreshing to see him in a role that does not require him to yell at Jim Nabors. (In glancing at some The Big Story scripts that I downloaded from Tobacco Documents.org, I saw Sutton’s name on a few of them; again, I was completely unaware that he did radio…proving that it is possible to learn something new every day.)

This morning, TCM ran one of my very favorite classic films—the 1950 comedy-drama Stars in My Crown, a wonderful picture that was released to VHS but as of this writing still has not rated a DVD version. I’ve mentioned on TDOY in the past month or so that I’ve been reading John DiLeo’s Screen Savers: 40 Remarkable Movies Awaiting Rediscovery, and Crown is not only one of the forty mentioned in the book but is discussed in one of those essays you come across every now and then that not only makes the movie absolutely fresh and new, but one you want to see (even if you’ve seen it before) at the earliest opportunity. Here’s a sample of John’s piece; a little something for the classic film buff who needs to have this book on his or her bookshelf.

Before I close up shop for today (hey, it wasn’t my idea to schedule They Won’t Believe Me, I Want to Live!, Shadow on the Wall, The Trial, The Racket, Dead Reckoning and The Company She Keeps on TCM in one swell foop) I wanted to pass along to you a new site created by Douglas DeLong, current curator of The Yesteryear Museum. Some great audio goodies are yours for the asking at The Yesteryear Audio Archive; classic songs of that era and OTR shows like The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet and Dragnet. Keep in mind, however, that because Doug hangs his hat in Okayama, Japan, some portions of this site may feature Japanese subtitles. (Okay, I made that last part up.)


Laura said...

Yes, it was definitely Betsy Blair in last night's movie (grin).

Thanks much for the interesting link on STARS IN MY CROWN. This movie was highly recommended to me by my dad, and I'm sure I'll like it since it stars Joel McCrea.

Best wishes,

Pam said...

Yep...as Laura said...Betsy Blair. Married to Gene Kelly at the time. (You knew I knew that!)

Anonymous said...

Dead Reckoning, with Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott (the poor man's Lauren Bacall)? When Bogie's in the hotel room looking in the phone book, pause it to read some of the street names. You may find them familiar. - Philip Schweier

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Thanks for reminding me what I left out of this review, Br'er Phillip. In case you have no idea what Phil and I are referring to, when Bogie thumbs through a phone book to look for address of the Gulf City morgue, he comes across street names like Abercorn, Ogeechee, Bay, etc.--all thoroughfares that can be found in Savannah, GA.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...


I've always been a huge McCrea fan...but Stars in My Crown is what sealed the deal. You will positively adore this film.