Monday, October 28, 2013

Fallow fields and butterfields

Honest to my grandma, I have been trying to find a spare hour or two in the day to return to these Thrilling Days of Yesteryear…but it seems like once I gather up my notes and start the ball rolling for a post I’m distracted with other projects competing for my attention.  (They’re like gentleman callers with candy and chocolates…rah-ly they are.)  I had to bow out of a scheduled CMBA function in order to get my blogathon entry done yesterday, and it looks like I’m going to putting out so many fires this week that a “Coming Distractions” for November before November will be out of the question.

This morning at the Radio Spirits blog, we break out the party hats and streamers to honor the 118th natal anniversary of veteran radio character actor Herbert Butterfield, whom you OTR aficionados know from The Halls of Ivy (as pain-in-the-tuchus Clarence Wellman), Dangerous Assignment (as “The Commissioner”) and the Lawrence Dobkin years of The Adventures of Ellery Queen (Herb was Ellery’s pop, Inspector Queen).  The photo at the beginning of this post was one that I was going to go with if I couldn’t find a better picture of Butterfield—fortunately, Karen at Radio Spirits came through in the clutch as always—it’s from 1954’s Shield for Murder, a noir potboiler starring (and co-directed by) Edward O’Brien.  Herb plays a police reporter in that one, and while I remember reviewing it on the blog a few years back it wasn’t until I put it on again last night that I could see why “the sweatiest man in noir” didn’t do more turns behind the camera…

…yes, it’s our old pal Mr. Boom Mike—big as day and obnoxious as all-get-out.  Still, Shield’s an entertaining little moon pitcher that also features John Agar (as O’Brien’s protégé) and Emile Meyer; not to mention other familiar faces like Claude Akins, Carolyn Jones, Richard Deacon, William Schallert, Vito Scotti and Stafford “Officer O’Hara” Repp in his movie debut.

Also, too: I didn’t get the opportunity to plug this but I did another piece for RS on the anniversary of The Fred Allen Show last October 23—and at the all-new ClassicFlix site, a write-up on an underrated little crime melodrama that you’ll want to check out for yourselves: Show Them No Mercy! (1935).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Vincent Price Blogathon: His Kind of Woman (1951)

The following essay is Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s contribution to The Vincent Price Blogathon, underway from October 25-27 and hosted by The Nitrate Diva.  For a complete list of participants and the subjects/films discussed, you’ll find it all right here.

Like his real-life counterpart Lucky Luciano, the fictional mob kingpin in His Kind of Woman (1951), Nick Ferraro (Raymond Burr), has lost control of his empire in the United States because he’s been deported back to his native Italy.  But Ferraro has a plan to return to the U.S. of A.; with the help of a plastic surgeon named Martin Krafft (John Mylong), Nick’s facial features will be altered so that he can assume the identity of a man described by immigration agent Bill Lusk (Tim Holt) as “a lone wolf without friends or relatives…a man who’s made it his business all his life to keep undercover.”

The lone wolf—or to be really honest, patsy—chosen for this assignment is Dan Milner (Robert Mitchum), a professional gambler who can’t seem to stay out of trouble; he’s just finished thirty days as a guest of the constabulary in Palm Springs (Milner has no idea why), and several goombahs working for a racketeer have shaken him down because he apparently owes the man money bet on a horse—even though he was “digging a road for the law in Coachella Valley” at the time.  Milner is convinced by two men (Paul Frees, Joseph Granby) to lam it out of town on a bus to Nogales…from there, he’ll catch a plane to a swanky resort area known as Morro’s Lodge, where he’s to wait for further instructions.

Paul Frees is everywhere!

Dan stands to make a tax-free $50,000 for taking this vacation…but he also stands to find himself up to his neck in hot water because he doesn’t learn until the film’s halfway through its two-hour running time that he’s Public Pigeon Number One.  In the meantime, he’s introduced to a colorful cast of characters including his fellow passenger on the plane down to Morro’s, Lenore Brent (Jane Russell), and the man she’s set her cap for—Hollywood actor Mark Cardigan (Vincent Price).  Cardigan, a hambone whose only real love affair has been with himself, nevertheless proves to be Milner’s ally and salvation when Dan is held hostage aboard Ferraro’s yacht and subjected to sadistic beatings from the men in Ferraro’s employ.

A movie whose spoofing of he-man heroics predates the even more celebrated cult classic Beat the Devil (1954) by a few years, His Kind of Woman differs from Devil in that it actually was commercially successful in its initial release (though it would later acquire the same cult cred due to its lack of distribution in following years).  Woman was a showcase for RKO’s two biggest stars at the time, Big Bad Bob and Full-Figured Jane; their successful teaming led to their casting in Macao, released the following year.

The script for Woman—titled in early stages Smiler with a Gun, Killer with a Smile and The Big Bullet—was written by Frank Fenton and Jack Leonard, with uncredited rewrites contributed by both RKO studio head Howard Hughes and Richard Fleischer—brought in to do re-shoots when Hughes expressed dissatisfaction with the picture (Howie wanted a little more action).  Hughes was also wildly enthusiastic about Price’s character of Mark Cardigan, and insisted the role be beefed up (Woman originally wrapped up its story with a quick fight between Milner and Ferraro)—though it eventually inflated the cost of the picture (by $150,000) with the construction of an actual 150-foot yacht (the Milner-Ferraro fight needed only the bridge of the vessel) and stretch the running time of the film to two hours.  Actor Raymond Burr was also a last minute addition to the movie’s cast—some sources report that Lee van Cleef originally essayed the role of Nick, with the (always reliable) IMDb listing TDOY bad guy fave Robert J. Wilke as the mobster—and that necessitated more re-shoots as well.

Robert Cornthwaite in a small role as the man who helps Mitchum on the next leg of his journey.

His Kind of Woman is considered by many to be an example of the style known as film noir, and it does contain a good many noir elements (low angles, chiaroscuro lighting).  But the tone of the picture is interesting in that it shifts at times to romantic comedy, high-spirited farce and nail-biting suspense.  The presence of icons like Mitchum, Burr, Price and Charles McGraw also gives it some considerable dark film cachet, along with a world-weary cynicism and crackling dialogue that remains endlessly quotable after the final credits have rolled.

Vincent Price’s performance in the film may very well be my favorite of all the movies in which I’ve seen him.  Mark Cardigan is described by one character in the film thusly: “You are not a pig…you are what a pig becomes…it is sometimes eaten with two slices of bread.”  Mark is an over-the-top actor, a bon vivant, an avid hunter and even a gourmet cook (this last aspect of his character will make those familiar with Price’s fondness for the art of fine cuisine giggle).  He’s a bit unlikable at first, possibly because he’s consorting with Lenore despite the fact he’s married (though the Breen office papers over this by suggesting that he dallies only because he thought his wife was getting a Reno divorce).  But by the end of the film, he demonstrates that he has heroic qualities (even though a lot of that is fueled by his iconic silver screen presence) and he steps aside to allow Lenore and Dan get together in typical happy ending style.

Vincent Price was a popular actor and box office favorite whose early film work (The House of the Seven Gables, Laura) is often overshadowed by his later status as a horror movie icon.  Despite a distinguished movie resume (as well as establishing himself on radio and later television), there were critics who were not kind to his work, considering his performances a tad overripe…and in their defense, Vincent could bring the camp when necessary.  But as much as I dearly love his horror movie showcases, I’ve always been in awe of the man’s thespic range.  He had the same appeal as Boris Karloff; a professional who took his work quite seriously…but not so much that he couldn’t have a little fun at the same time.

One of Price’s favorite movies was 1973’s Theatre of Blood, in which he plays a demented thespian who takes revenge on his critics by recreating deaths from Shakespearean plays; it’s been suggested by more than a few individuals that the reason why he relished this particular role was that it allowed him a little revenge of his own after being savaged by those same ink-stained wretches all those years he was in the business.  Cardigan in Woman is very similar to Blood’s Edward Lionheart (though without the homicidal tendencies, natch); when told by Lenore of Dan’s plight, he lapses into Hamlet: “Now might I drink hot blood and do such bitter business the earth would quake to look upon!”  Later, when his wife Helen (Marjorie Reynolds) notices that he’s been wounded in the arm, back he goes to the Immortal Bard: “’Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door.”  Much of Cardigan’s dialogue during his hilarious rescue of Dan (he gathers up a “posse” of resort guests and murales, assuring them that “survivors will receive parts in my next picture”) vacillates between real and faux Shakespeare (“My kingdom for a ship!”).  His heroics are played for farce (he’s wearing a cape during the rescue scenes) and yet there’s a gallantry to the man that makes one admire him (concerned for Lenore’s safety, he locks her in a closet to keep her from following him and tells Helen “If I’m not here by Wednesday—chop that door down!”).

My favorite scene with Price in the film is a sequence in which he’s showing one of his films—an Errol Flynn-like swashbuckler—to a captive audience at the Lodge, and as the faux Flynn engages in his swordplay onscreen the real Cardigan looks around at the audience to see if they’re enjoying it as much as he…almost like a child anxious to please his parents.  When his onscreen character has vanquished his foe Mark starts applauding himself, and then sheepishly notices that he’s the only person doing so.  Finally, the credits roll and the Lodge guests applaud enthusiastically, pleasing Cardigan once again.  Vincent Price’s turn as Mark Cardigan in Woman is a comic wonder (though the actor was very adept at lighter fare, as borne out by the wonderful Champagne for Caesar) and he has a marvelous scene toward the end where he’s boasting of his exploits to a pair of reporters.  Asked by one, “What did you use to kill Ferraro?” Cardigan hesitates after getting a sideways glance from wife Helen and nobly replies: “A man named Milner.”

Price pretty much walks away with His Kind of Woman in his back pocket—but he’s not the only actor who does first-rate work in the movie.  Mitchum contributes a great deal merely with his standard sleepy-eyed anti-hero presence; he’s got some choice lines including one he tosses off to a bartender (Joel Fluellen) that is one of my all-time favorites: “I’ll see you all of a sudden, Sammy.”  His romantic repartee with Russell is also a highlight:

LENORE (noticing that Dan is ironing his folding money): Don’t you dampen it first?
DAN: Nope…it’s an old habit…whenever I have nothing to do and I can’t think, I always iron my money…
LENORE: What do you do when you’re broke?
DAN: When I’m broke…I press my pants

The gentleman wearing the tux is actor Philip Van Zandt, whom Three Stooges fans will no doubt recognize (he often played a heavy in their two-reel comedies).

The always underrated Russell sings two memorable ditties, You’ll Know and Five Little Miles from San Berdoo, and has plenty of bite to her dialogue as well (asked by Cardigan her opinion of the picture, she cracks: “Oh, it was fine…it was just a little long—about an hour and a half”).  TDOY fave Charles McGraw makes a memorable henchman (his character also narrates the film) and Tim Holt has a small bit pivotal role as a federal cop who tries to warn Mitchum’s character that he’s in deep doo-doo (Holt pretends to be drunk, and even sings a few bars of the Georgia Tech fight song).  Future Thurston Howell III Jim Backus is also on hand as a lecherous investment broker who tries to make a move on a young newlywed (Leslie Banning); the sequence where Mitchum’s Milner steps in and helps her husband win a poker hand he’s playing with Backus is similar to the scene in Casablanca where Bogart’s Rick lends a hand to a young couple at the roulette table so that the wife doesn’t have to sleep with Claude Rains.

And finally...OTR veteran Stacy Harris (of This is Your FBI fame) as a guitar player who knows that Lenore Brent is really "Liz Brady."

His Kind of Woman’s offbeat blend of tongue-in-cheek humor and brutally sadistic violence makes it an oddity among its noir brethren and sistren; I first saw it when TBS still showed old movies and it’s been firmly ensconced among my favorites ever since.  It’s available on DVD; it was released in the third volume of Warner Home Video’s Film Noir Classic Collection…but the presentation on disc isn’t particularly praiseworthy (the audio is too low and there is a noticeable bit of wear and tear on the print).  I’m willing to overlook it only because I’m such a fan of the film (I’ve never seen a truly great print of Woman, to be honest) that features my favorite Vincent Price performance.  “This place is dangerous…the time right deadly…the drinks are on me, my bucko!”

Monday, October 14, 2013

Monday Night at the MOVIES!

Some of the goodies showing this week on the digital sub-channel affectionately capitalized as MOVIES! include the underrated cop thriller Warning Shot; Fools’ Parade (based on the novel by WV native Davis Grubb); and Jane Fonda’s marvelous comic turn in Fun with Dick and Jane…which also features a nice performance from Alpo salesman Ed “You are correct, sir!” McMahon.  Check out the schedule!

October 14, Monday
08:00am The Desperadoes (1943)
09:55am Sea Wife (1957)
11:40am Dead Men Tell (1941)
01:00pm Warning Shot (1967)
03:10pm Fighting Mad (1976)
05:05pm The Rose (1979)
08:00pm An Unmarried Woman (1978)
10:40pm Switching Channels (1988)
12:55am An Unmarried Woman (1978)
03:35am Switching Channels (1988)
05:50am The Parallax View (1974)

October 15, Tuesday
08:00am Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)
10:15am C.C. and Company (1970)
12:15pm Red Skies of Montana (1952)
02:30pm The Young Lions (1958)
06:05pm Good Day for a Hanging (1959)
08:00pm High Noon (1952)
09:55pm Posse (1975)
11:55pm High Noon (1952)
01:50am Posse (1975)
03:50am Warning Shot (1967)

October 16, Wednesday
06:00am Denver and the Rio Grande (1952)
08:00am Experiment in Terror (1962)
10:40am The Osterman Weekend (1983)
12:50pm Underworld U.S.A. (1961)
03:00pm Walking Tall (1973)
05:40pm Walking Tall Part 2 (1975)
08:00pm The French Connection (1971)
10:15pm Uncommon Valor (1983)
12:30am The French Connection (1971)
02:45am Uncommon Valor (1983)
05:00am Back Door To Hell (1980)

October 17, Thursday
06:35am Backlash (1947)
08:35am Fools' Parade (1971)
10:45am Irreconcilable Differences (1984)
01:15pm Dear Brigitte (1965)
03:25pm Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)
05:40pm Stir Crazy (1980)
08:00pm Moscow on the Hudson (1984)
10:35pm First Monday in October (1981)
12:50am Moscow on the Hudson (1984)
03:25am First Monday in October (1981)
05:35am King of the Gypsies (1978)

October 18, Friday
08:00am J.W. Coop (1971)
10:25am Hanover Street (1979)
12:45pm The Elephant Man (1980)
03:25pm Jacob's Ladder (1990)
05:25pm The Bride (1985)
08:00pm Don't Look Now (1973)
10:20pm Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)
12:25am Don't Look Now (1973)
02:45am Die! Die! My Darling! (1965)
04:50am The Return of Mr. Moto (1965)

October 19, Saturday
06:30am Soup to Nuts (1930)
08:15am It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
10:00am Kids Programming (FCC-mandated)
01:00pm Jungle Man-Eaters (1954)
02:30pm Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
04:25pm The Return of the Fly (1959)
06:10pm Nadine (1987)
08:00pm Fun with Dick and Jane (1977)
10:05pm No Mercy (1986)
12:20am The Man I Married (1940)
02:00am Mr. Soft Touch (1949)
04:00am Vicki (1953)
05:55am Whirlpool (1949)

October 20, Sunday
08:00am The Chase (1966)
11:00am Murder By Death (1976)
01:05pm The Cheap Detective (1978)
03:10pm Fun with Dick and Jane (1977)
05:20pm Return to Peyton Place (1961)
08:00pm Places in the Heart (1984)
10:20pm Tender is the Night (1962)
01:40am Places in the Heart (1984)
04:00am Tender is the Night (1962)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Guest Review: Dick Tracy (1937)

Now, class, settle down. Mr. Shreve, your regular Saturday Serial host, couldn’t be here today. I think I heard something about “court-mandated community service.” I am your substitute, Mr. Schweier, and today we will review the 15-chapter Republic serial, Dick Tracy (1937).

Dick Tracy burst onto the funny pages in America’s newspapers in 1931, courtesy of Chester Gould and the Chicago Tribune syndicate. He was portrayed as the leading police detective in an unnamed city, pitted against a ghoulish rogue’s gallery. When making the leap to the big screen, Tracy was recast as an F.B.I agent in the San Francisco area. It was never mentioned by name, but opening credits showed plenty of Bay-area sites.

The story opens with a small group of criminals gathering aboard a train. They’re all members of the Spider ring, headed by… The Spider?

WRONG! The master criminal in question is merely referred to as the Lame One. His connection to any kind of spider is never explained.

Suddenly, the thump-and-slide gait of their boss is heard in the corridor. The door opens, and a shadowy figure challenges his underlings, most of whom are eager to please. One remains defiant, challenging his boss before drawing a gun and shooting him. The shadowy figure merely laughs, reinforcing his men’s belief that “he’s not human.”

Later, as said henchman is making his way down the street in the dead of night, only to hear the thump-and-slide footsteps of his one-time superior. Suddenly, a light burns a spider brand into his forehead as he is gunned down.

CUT TO – Dick Tracy (Ralph Byrd), briefing his own underlings, Steve Lockwood (Fred Hamilton) and Mike McGurk (Smiley Burnette) on the mysterious “spider” deaths. Joining Dick is his lovely assistant Gwen Andrews (Kay Hughes) and his even lovelier brother Gordon (Carleton Young). Gwen and Gordo are keen on dragging Dick away from his duties with the F.B.I. for a birthday frolic at the estate of Gordon’s employer, Ellery Brewster (John Dilson). There, the wealthy businessman is hosting a carnival for the benefit of local orphan children.

Brewster unfortunately meets an untimely end, murdered in his study, with a spider brand burned into his forehead. Dick and his team investigate, aided by one of the orphan children, a defiant little delinquent who goes by the name of Junior (Lee Van Atta). With the boy’s help, Dick is able to identify the murderer.

Impressed with the boy’s ambition to someday be a G-man, Dick decides to take the kid home, an idea only happily agreed to by the orphanage matron (Alice Fleming). Back in those days, one could buy an orphan boy for less than the cost of a pair of shoes – or so it would seem.

As Gordon Tracy ferries a vital piece of evidence downtown for his brother, he is run off the road. Barely alive, he is taken to the lair of the Lame One. There, the mad scientist in residence Moloch Moloch (John Piccori), promises, “Gentlemen… we can rebuild him. Make him stronger… faster… evil-er. Okay, maybe just that last one, but we’ll try.”

Moloch is able to turn Gordon Tracy to the Dark Side, and the Lame One wastes no time in putting him in charge of all his evil operations. Sporting a white streak in his hair and a scar on his cheek (goatees were not in fashion at the time), Gordon Tracy rides herd on various schemes of the Lame One – the destruction of the new Bay Bridge, the swindle of an aged prospector Death Valley Johnny (Milburn Morante), and the theft of gold from a ship at sea.

Why is the Lame One masterminding these criminal activities? Because he’s EVIL!!

Each scheme takes up the bulk of the chapter, ending with the obligatory cliff-hanger as Dick’s speed-boat careens wildly out of control, or he’s about to be crushed beneath a mountain of collapsing steel girders. Naturally, as the next chapter begins, Dick amazingly gains control of his boat, or manages to roll out of the path of the falling metal.

These events are usually followed by, “Gee, it’s too bad the Lame One’s men got away. We’ll catch them next time.” Uh-huh.

Throughout all this, the paths of the Brothers Tracy crosses numerous times, yet Dick never recognizes his own brother. It isn’t until the near-final chapter when Moloch addresses Gordon by name that Dick gets a clue. Strapped down to the evil toadie’s operating table, Dick Tracy is stunned to learn his own brother has been in the thrall of his arch-enemy. The chapter ends as Moloch is about to perform his evil-making procedure on our helpless hero. “Next Chapter: Brothers United.”

WHAT?! Hello, spoiler alert! Thanks for ruining the ending, Misters Barry Shipman and
Winston Miller (screen writers).

As serials go, it’s typical of the era – lots of cliffhangers, but if you miss a chapter, you’re not missing much. Still, it’s ambitious in its scope, as the Lame One’s men pilot a flying wing throughout the skies over San Francisco, or his agents attempt to flee the country in a submarine (a set which no doubt cost some serious coin in those days).

Ralph Byrd is perfectly serviceable as Tracy. He became identified for the role which he played for more than a decade, until his death in 1952. To his credit, it seems there is no indignity which the screenwriters can dream up that Byrd isn’t game for. I’ve never seen an actor so willing to leap into water fully-clothed.

The supporting characters elevate the production. Gwen, Tracy’s assistant, is more than a mere secretary; she heads up Dick’s personal crime lab, and is treated about as equally as a woman could hope for in those days. Steve Lockwood is everything a competent assistant should be.

Mike McGurk (Smiley Burnette), not so much. He and Junior (Lee Van Atta) provide typical comedy relief antics as McGurk is shown up time and time again by someone half his age and twice his intelligence.

Thanks to luck on my part (and generosity on Ivan’s part), additional Dick Tracy serial reviews will be forthcoming. Three more were made: Dick Tracy Returns (1938); Dick Tracy's G-Men (1939); and Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. (1941).

Monday, October 7, 2013

All the world’s a stooge

A couple of weekends back, the Film Forum in NYC unspooled a recently rediscovered rarity: a 1933 print of the “lost” Three Stooges MGM two-reel Technicolor comedy, Hello Pop!  An elderly Australian film collector e-mailed Facebook chum Ron Hutchinson at The Vitaphone Project in December of 2012 to ask about the movie’s status, and upon learning that it was considered a lost film, shared his 35mm print with Warner Bros…who restored the movie this summer and made it available for its Forum debut.  The scuttlebutt is that the two-reeler will eventually turn up on a DVD release (perhaps with the other four shorts the Stooges made at MGM, when they were still working with Ted Healy).

It’s interesting that Hello Pop! has been in the news because there have been several other Stooges developments to report on—though these are of a book nature, and involve the reprinting by Chicago Review Press biographies of two of the members of that august comedy troupe: I Stooged to Conquer (Moe Howard’s autobio) and Curly: An Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge.  The first of these tomes was originally printed in back in July of 1977 by Citadel Press as Moe Howard and the 3 Stooges (I tell you this in case you already have a copy of the original); Moe himself had wanted to call it what the book goes by now but the publisher changed it before it went to press.  Howard worked on the publication shortly before his passing in May 1975 (he explains in the foreword that answering fan mail was getting to be hard work…and postage was running ten cents) and the unfinished book was completed by his daughter, Joan Howard Maurer.

For many years, I Stooged to Conquer/Moe Howard and the 3 Stooges was the definitive book to have on the roughhouse comedy trio; it was later superseded by The Three Stooges Scrapbook (this has also been reprinted by Chicago Review Press—a review copy was not, however, available) which was put together by Maurer and brothers Jeff and Greg Lenburg.  But Conquer is the book you’ll want to have if you’re interested in the biographical story of the durable institution known as the Stooges; it’s filled with many behind-the-scenes details of how they came to be, straight from the man who made a darn good living eye-poking his partners for over forty years.  For me, the strength of Conquer was in its wealth of photographs, generous dollops of both stills and candid photos of Moe and his family (though there are a few errors in some of the captions) are featured. The comic actor had almost total recall of the important events in his life, and despite the pop culture icon that is his brother Jerome (a.k.a. Curly), Moe Howard was the true mastermind behind the team’s success.  His life story makes for fascinating reading.

If you’re like 95% of the Stooges fandom and consider yourself a devotee of the shaven-headed clown who made “Nyuk nyuk nyuk” part of the national lexicon, you’ll have higher praise for Curly: An Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge.  This book was written entirely by JHM (and first published in 1985), and its chief asset is that there’s a little more detail in the biography of the man friends and family affectionately called “Babe.”  The book also contains a number of interviews with family members conducted by Maurer in the course of putting it together—there are interesting revelations about the life of a man who in some ways was—and in some ways not—like his screen character.  Most of the people interviewed share the opinion that Curly Howard was a kind and generous man (and a dog lover to boot), but reading between the lines you can’t help but glean that he was also a lot like the character he played onscreen; with little control over his life and, to use his famous phrase, “a victim of circumstance.”  It’s great reading, though you can’t help but be troubled to learn that the fun-loving clown was a sad loner with regards to his personal life (married and divorced four times, and bothered for many years by an injury he sustained in his youth when he accidentally shot himself in the foot).

If you’re interested in an overall appreciation of the Stooges (one that also focuses on the blog’s favorite stooge, Shemp Howard, as well as Joes Besser and De Rita), with minutiae on their films/careers and contributions to the cultural landscape, The Three Stooges Scrapbook (first published in 1982) is really an excellent book—I didn’t get a preview copy, but I did have two editions of the original Citadel print (one of them dog-eared from use).  My only quibble with that publication is that any serious discussion on the merits of the films is sort of waved off—for that, your best bet would be Facebook friends Ed Watz and Ted Okuda’s invaluable reference The Columbia Comedy Shorts or a copy of Leonard Maltin’s The Great Movie Shorts (a.k.a. Selected Short Subjects: From Spanky to The Three Stooges).  Personally, I’m glad to see that Chicago Review Press has made these three books accessible to fans once again—no self-respecting knucklehead should be without them.

(Special thanks to CRP representatives Tracey Hulstein, Marissa Ernst and Shannon Frech for arranging for Thrilling Days of Yesteryear to get review copies of the Moe and Curly books. Woo woo woo woo woo...)

Monday Night at the MOVIES!

We’ve got some good stuff on tap this week on MOVIES!, the aspiring Fox Movie Channel doppelganger that comes to us (well, those of us in the Atlanta area anyway) via WAGA’s digital sub-channel (2.2).  Some first-rate noir (Cry of the City, Underworld, U.S.A., The Burglar), Stooges fun (Soup to Nuts)…and Friday night, a double feature of two longtime TDOY faves: True Believer (1989) and The Parallax View (1974).  Enjoy!

October 7, Monday
08:00am Good Day for a Hanging (1959)
09:55am Back Door to Hell (1980)
11:30am Red Skies of Montana (1952)
01:40pm C.C. and Company (1970)
03:40pm Cry of the City (1948)
05:45pm The Naked Face (1985)
08:00pm Murder by Death (1976)
10:05pm The Cheap Detective (1978)
12:10am Murder by Death (1976)
02:15am The Cheap Detective (1978)
04:20am The Man I Married (1940)

October 8, Tuesday
06:00am I Deal in Danger (1966)
08:00am Two Rode Together (1961)
10:25am Posse (1975)
12:30pm Underworld U.S.A. (1961)
02:40pm Experiment in Terror (1962)
05:30pm The Detective (1968)
08:00pm The French Connection (1971)
10:15pm Serpico (1973)
12:50am The French Connection (1971)
03:05am Serpico (1973)
05:35am The White Dawn (1974)

October 9, Wednesday
08:00am Cowboy (1958)
10:00am Sea Wife (1957)
11:40am Phone Call from a Stranger (1952)
01:45pm The Psychopath (1966)
03:30pm The Seven-Ups (1973)
05:45pm The Osterman Weekend (1983)
08:00pm Walking Tall (1973)
10:40pm Walking Tall Part 2 (1975)
01:00am Walking Tall (1973)
03:40am Walking Tall Part 2 (1975)

October 10, Thursday
06:00am I Deal in Danger (1966)
08:00am Denver and the Rio Grande (1952)
10:00am King of the Gypsies (1978)
12:25pm The Rose (1979)
03:25pm Switching Channels (1988)
05:40pm Donovan's Reef (1963)
08:00pm Peyton Place (1957)
11:30pm Peyton Place (1957)
03:00am An Unmarried Woman (1978)
05:40am No Mercy (1986)

October 11, Friday
08:00am The Desperados (1969)
10:00am The White Dawn (1974)
12:25pm Backlash (1947)
01:50pm The Burglar (1957)
03:50pm White Line Fever (1975)
05:50pm Underworld U.S.A. (1961)
08:00pm True Believer (1989)
10:15pm The Parallax View (1974)
12:25am True Believer (1989)
02:40am The Parallax View (1974)
04:50am Back Door to Hell (1980)

October 12, Saturday
06:20am The Return of Mr. Moto (1965)
08:15am The Return of the Fly (1959)
10:00am Kids Programming (FCC-mandated)
01:00pm It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
02:50pm Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961)
05:15pm Return to Peyton Place (1961)
08:00pm Cactus Flower (1969)
10:15pm Pal Joey (1957)
12:35am Vicki (1953)
02:30am Moontide (1942)
04:35am The Burglar (1957)

October 13, Sunday
06:40am Dead Men Tell (1941)
08:00am Jungle Man-Eaters (1954)
09:30am Soup to Nuts (1930)
11:00am Dressed to Kill (1941)
12:40pm The Return of Mr. Moto (1965)
02:15pm Mr. Moto’s Gamble (1938)
03:50pm Whirlpool (1949)
05:55pm Die! Die! My Darling (1965)
08:00pm Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
10:45pm The Chase (1966)
01:40am Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
04:25am The Chase (1966)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Win some, lose some

The winners for this year’s Classic Movie Blog Association Awards (a.k.a. the CiMBAs) were announced earlier this week…and while I was disappointed that the blog came up short (I did keep my uniform clean—you have to give me that) this should in no way rain on the parade of the other blogs who did win, and most deservedly so.  The final winners were:

Best Classic Movie Review (Drama): “Scarface: The Shame of a Nation,” Once Upon a Screen
Best Classic Movie Review (Musical or Comedy): “Search for Beauty (1934),”
Best Classic Movie Article: “Top 10 Oscar-Less Dames and their Oscar-Worthy Roles,” Shadows and Satin
Best Profile of a Classic Movie Performer or Filmmaker: “Cagney,” The Lady Eve’s Reel Life
Best Blog Design:
Best Classic Movie Series: “TCM Pre-Code Pick of the Month,” Shadows and Satin
Best Classic Movie Blog Event: “James Cagney Blogathon,” The Movie Projector

Heartiest congratulations to all the blogs for a job well done.

I was, however, rewarded karmically when I learned that I was the winner of the “prize pack” given away at True Classics this past week when that marvelous movie blog did their tribute to animation genius Tex Avery.  And I even got free swag with that, so…well, truth be told, I donated what I won (DVD, Blu-ray and a swell gift card) to The ClassicBecky Foundation for Grandkid Corruption—because, really, if we can’t warp the minds of future generations with subversive animation, then what is the point…what is the bloody point?!!

In other me news, Brother Rich at Wide Screen World participated in The Great Imaginary Film Blogathon sponsored by the Sisters Metzinger over at Silver Scenes from October 1-3—the topic of his essay was the renowned cult screenwriter Ed Montefusco, who in this picture…

…bears a striking resemblance to your humble narrator.  Well, that’s because it is me—Rich asked me if I’d agree to be Montefusco (really…it was the role I was born to play) and I thought it would be kicky.  The only problem was he wanted a photo of me in a suit and tie…something that hasn’t happened since my years in Catholic school (well, I think I wore one in a play once).  So he had to do a little PhotoShop magic…here’s the original picture:

I really like what Rich did in his fictional foto.  Particularly my hands—I look like I just evicted an orphanage.

I’m still working like mahd—mahd, I tell you!—on putting together some stuff for the blog; if all goes well, I’ll be able to resume not only Serial Saturdays but Doris Day(s) next week.  In the meantime, here’s one of my recent pieces at the all-new ClassicFlix, and while you’re there check out the great contributions from True Classics’ Brandie, Laura of Miscellaneous Musings fame, Aubyn (the gal with the white parasol), Cultureshark’s own Rick Brooks, The Mythical Monkey, my BBFF Stacia from She Blogged by Night and—as Bill Conrad used to say—“a host of others.”

Finally, as I segueway oh-so-smoothly to another mention of She Blogged by Night, I was positively gobsmacked that Stacia has taken up my (and James Vance’s) suggestion that she tackle The Monster and the Ape (1945) as her next serial takedown.  The first chapter of what promises to be both prime snark and tear-your-hair insanity is up…which leaves me wondering: how to use my newly-discovered powers of getting people to bend to my will?  (“Hey, kids—who’s up for a showing of Red Hot Riding Hood [1943]?)

(Note: Br'er Rich points out in the comments that the renowned yet fictional Mr. Montefusco is not a director but a writer.  I have made the necessary correction, as well as blushed at being that close to Jonathan Winters, one of my comedy idols.)