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    TCM Classic Film Festival 2012

    Type: Event | Date: Thursday, Apr 12, 2012

    The fest opens today.
  • Tcm-is-once-again-hosting-its-classic-film-festival_home_top_story

    TCM Classic Film Festival 2012

    Type: Event | Date: Sunday, Apr 15, 2012

    The fest closes today.
  • Tcm-is-once-again-hosting-its-classic-film-festival_home_top_story

    TCM Classic Film Festival 2012

    Type: Event | Date: Saturday, Apr 14, 2012

    The festival continues.
  • Tcm-is-once-again-hosting-its-classic-film-festival_home_top_story

    TCM Classic Film Festival 2012

    Type: Event | Date: Friday, Apr 13, 2012

    The fest continues today with "Chinatown" and a whole lot more.
  • TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Romance

    Type: Event | Date: Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010

    Includes:Now, Voyager (1942) Mogambo (1953) Love in the Afternoon (1957) Splendor in the Grass (1961) Now, Voyager Olive Higgins Prouty's popular novel was transformed into nearly two hours of high-grade soap opera by several masters of the trade: Warner Bros., Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, director Irving Rapper, and screenwriter Casey Robinson. Davis plays repressed Charlotte Vale, dying on the vine thanks to her domineering mother (Gladys Cooper). All-knowing psychiatrist Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) urges Charlotte to make several radical changes in her life, quoting Walt Whitman: "Now voyager sail thou forth to seek and find." Slowly, Charlotte emerges from her cocoon of tight hairdos and severe clothing to blossom into a gorgeous fashion plate. While on a long ocean voyage, she falls in love with Jerry Durrance (Henreid), who is trapped in a loveless marriage. After kicking over the last of her traces at home, Charlotte selflessly becomes a surrogate mother to Jerry's emotionally disturbed daughter (a curiously uncredited Janis Wilson), who is on the verge of becoming the hysterical wallflower that Charlotte once was. An interim romance with another man (John Loder) fails to drive Jerry from Charlotte's mind. The film ends ambiguously; Jerry is still married, without much chance of being divorced from his troublesome wife, but the newly self-confident Charlotte is willing to wait forever if need be. "Don't ask for the moon," murmurs Charlotte as Max Steiner's romantic music reaches a crescendo, "we have the stars." In addition to this famous line, Now, Voyager also features the legendary "two cigarettes" bit, in which Jerry places two symbolic cigarettes between his lips, lights them both, and hands one to Charlotte. The routine would be endlessly lampooned in subsequent films, once by Henreid himself in the satirical sword-and-sandal epic Siren of Baghdad (1953). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Mogambo The 1953 Clark Gable film Mogambo is a remake of Gable's 1932 seriocomic adventure Red Dust. Where the earlier film was lensed on the MGM backlot, Mogambo was shot on location in Africa by director John Ford. Gable is safari leader Victor Marswell, who plays "host" to stranded Eloise Y. Kelly (Ava Gardner, who is no better than she ought to be but is just right for our raffish hero -- the Gardner role was originally played along franker pre-Code lines by Jean Harlow). Anthropologist Donald Nordley (Donald Sinden) hires Victor to lead him into the deepest, darkest jungle. Along for the ride is Donald's wife, Linda (Grace Kelly), outwardly cool as a cucumber but secretly harboring a lust for Victor. Scorned, Kelly tries to kill Victor, but true-blue Eloise takes the blame for the shooting. Reportedly, Grace Kelly carried on an off-camera romance with Clark Gable, which ended when the differences in their ages proved insurmountable. Even so, it is the easy rapport between Gable and Ava Gardner which stole the show in Mogambo. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Love in the Afternoon Gary Cooper more or less repeats his international-roue characterization from 1938's Bluebeard's Eighth Wife for the 1957 romantic comedy Love in the Afternoon (both films were co-scripted by Billy Wilder, who also directed the latter picture). Audrey Hepburn co-stars as the daughter of Parisian private eye Maurice Chevalier. Investigating the amorous activities of Cooper, Chevalier relates what he's discovered to cuckolded husband John McGiver, who declares that he's going after Cooper with a pistol. Overhearing this conversation, Hepburn rushes off to rescue Cooper. She keeps him far away from McGiver by adopting a "woman of the world" pose. Cooper quickly sees through this charade; still, she is fascinated by Hepburn and attempts to relocate her after she disappears. Meeting Chevalier one day, Cooper relates the story of the Mystery Woman, never dreaming that he is describing Chevalier's daughter. Equally in the dark, Chevalier offers to locate the elusive Hepburn. Once he's tumbled to the fact that his quarry is his own flesh and blood, Chevalier advises Hepburn against contemplating a relationship with the much-older Cooper. She, of course, fails to heed this warning, setting the stage for an ultraromantic finale. Love in the Afternoon is highlighted by a superb running gag involving a quartet of gypsy violinists, who insist upon dogging Cooper's trail wherever he goes-including a steam bath. Love in the Afternoon was adapted by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond from the novel Ariane by Claude Anet. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Splendor in the Grass 1961's premiere "date" movie represented the screen debut of Warren Beatty. Set in the 1920s, William Inge's screenplay concerns the superheated romance between working-class high schooler Natalie Wood and rich kid Beatty. Trying their best to keep their relationship from going "all the way," Beatty and Wood go through a series of unsatisfying interim romances. The troubled Wood attempts suicide and is sent to a mental institution, while Beatty impregnates freewheeling waitress Zohra Lampert. Wood and Beatty still carry a torch for one another, but circumstances preclude their getting together -- and besides, Wood suddenly realizes that she's outgrown the still-floundering Beatty. Scriptwriter William Inge shows up as a minister in Splendor in the Grass, while comedienne Phyllis Diller does a cameo as famed nightclub entertainer Texas Guinan; also, keep an eye out for Sandy Dennis, making her first movie appearance. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
  • TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Sci-Fi Adventures

    Type: Event | Date: Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010

    Includes:The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) Them! (1954) Satellite in the Sky (1956) World Without End (1956) The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms A longtime "dream" project of production designer-turned-director Eugene Lourie, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms sees the titular beast unleashed on the world via nuclear testing. Making its way from the Arctic Circle, the monster-a carnivorous "rhedosaurus"-begins advancing towards New York. It stomps its way around Wall Street, pausing to have a policeman for lunch. By the time it has reached Coney Island, the rhedosaurus is more of a danger than ever because of the deadly bacteria it carries within its system. It's up to researcher Paul Christian and sharpshooter Lee Van Cleef to try to liquidate the beast with a grenade chock full of radioactive isotopes. Beast From 20,000 Fathoms represented effects artist Ray Harryhausen's first solo effort, after assisting Willis O'Brien on Mighty Joe Young (1949). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Them! A little girl is found wandering in the desert, in a state of complete shock. When she finally revives, she can scream out only one word: "Them!" Any aficionado of 1950s horror films can readily tell you that "Them" are giant ants, a byproduct of the radiation attending the atomic bomb tests of the era. Extremely well organized, these deadly eight-to-twenty-foot mutations converge on the storm drains of Los Angeles in the finale. Forming a united front against the oncoming ant battalions are New Mexico police sergeant James Whitmore, FBI representative James Arness, and father-and-daughter entomologists Edmund Gwenn and Joan Weldon. Since the details of Them are fairly common knowledge today, the mystery-thriller structure of the film's first half tends to drag a bit. Things liven up considerably during the search-and-destroy final reels, as the audience is barraged with convincing special effects and miniature work-not to mention that eerie ant-induced sound effect, so often imitated by subsequent lesser films. Fess Parker appears in a starmaking cameo as a pilot driven to the booby hatch after witnessing the ants in action, while an uncredited Leonard Nimoy is seen pulling info out of IBM machine. Definitely the high point in the careers of director Gordon Douglas and scenarists Ted Sherdeman and George Worthing Yates, Them is also one of the handful of vintage science-fiction thrillers that holds up as well today as it did when first released. (Sidebar: Though filmed in black-and-white, Them is alleged to have been released with a Technicolor opening title, the word THEM! hurtling towards the audience in a vibrant red). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Satellite in the Sky The topicality of Satellite in the Sky enabled the British-based Danzinger Bros. to release the film through Warner Bros., rather than their usual United Artists distribution channels. The story concerns the first manned space satellite, launched from England with commander Michael Hayden (Kieron Moore) at the controls. It is the mission of Hayden and his crew to test out the deadly "tritonium" bomb in outer space. Once he's left the atmosphere, Hayden discovers that he's been harboring a stowaway: reporter and anti-weapons activist Kim Hamilton (Lois Maxwell). Everyone's life is placed in peril when the bomb affixes itself to the side of the satellite. As tension mounts, the crew -- and Kim -- race against time to either remove or defuse the tick-tick-ticking weapon. Satellite in the Sky represented documentary filmmaker Paul Dickson's first fictional effort; like most other directors, Dickson was unable to curb the overacting of the venerable Donald Wolfit, here cast as the near-maniacal creator of the tritonium bomb. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide World Without End The first spaceship to Mars rounds the Red Planet and heads back toward Earth but runs into an unexplained phenomenon in space that accelerates the craft to such a high speed that all four men aboard black out. When they awake, they've crash-landed on a planet that they only gradually realize is Earth -- of the distant future: they have crashed through the time barrier. After they are chased by ugly "Mutates," they are taken in by the declining remnants of human civilization who live underground. It's now 2508 A.D, almost 400 years after an atomic war almost wiped out the human race. John Borden (Hugh Marlowe) falls in love with Garnet (Nancy Gates), daughter of Timmek (Everett Glass), leader of the underground people -- a fact that enrages Mories (Booth Colman), who's always assumed she would someday be his. The scheming Mories tries to turn his people against the space/time travelers, but falls victim to his own nefarious plans. Learning from Deena (Lisa Montell), a servant girl from the surface of Earth, that most people up there are normal though cruelly ruled by the deformed ones, Borden and his friends take on the mutates with modern weaponry and reclaim the Earth for normal humanity. Although this is (surprisingly) the first American feature film to deal with scientific time travel, World Without End is really just another lost-civilization plot, complete with princess, evil grand vizier, and lots of skulking in corridors. There are few imaginative touches -- the giant spiders in particular are pathetic -- and some of the cast isn't very good. But for the period, this is slightly above-average science fiction; the exteriors, shot at the famous Iverson Ranch, have an open, fresh feeling, but the interior sets are unimaginative and routine. The plotline owes more than a little to H.G. Wells' The Time Machine (a lawsuit was filed), which makes the presence of Rod Taylor in the cast (as the hunk from our time) a little ironic, as just a few years later, he starred in George Pal's much-loved movie version of the Wells novel. ~ Bill Warren, All Movie Guide
  • TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Marx Brothers

    Type: Event | Date: Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010

    Includes:A Day at the Races (1937) Room Service (1938), MPAA Rating: NR At the Circus (1939) A Night in Casablanca (1946) A Day at the Races A Day at the Races was the Marx Brothers' follow-up to their incomparable A Night at the Opera. Groucho Marx is cast as Hugo Z. Hackenbush, a veterinarian who passes himself off as a human doctor when summoned by wealthy hypochondriac Emily Upjohn (Margaret Dumont) to take over the financially strapped Standish Sanitarium. Chico Marx plays the sanitarium's general factotum, who works without pay because he has a soft spot for its owner, lovely Judy Standish (Maureen O'Sullivan). Harpo Marx portrays a jockey at the local racetrack, constantly bullied by the evil Morgan (Douglass Dumbrille), who will take over the sanitarium if Judy can't pay its debts. After several side-splitting routines--Chico selling Groucho tips on the races, Chico and Harpo rescuing Groucho from the clutches of femme fatale Esther Muir, all three Marxes conducting a lunatic "examination" of Margaret Dumont--the fate of the sanitarium rests on a Big Race involving Hi-Hat, a horse belonging to the film's nominal hero, Allan Jones. Virtually everything that worked in "Opera" is trotted out again for "Races", including a hectic slapstick finale wherein the Marxes lay waste to a public event. What is missing here is inspiration; perhaps this is due to the fact that MGM producer Irving Thalberg, whose input was so essential to the success of "Opera", died during the filming of "Races". Even so, Day at the Races made more money than any other previous Marx Brothers film--the result being that MGM, in the spirit of "they loved it once", would continue recycling Races' best bits for the studio's next three Marx vehicles. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Room Service Having paid $255,500 for the rights to John Murray and Allen Boretz' Broadway hit Room Service, RKO Radio then scouted about for a "perfect" cast. Thanks to the persistence of show-biz agent Zeppo Marx, RKO was able to secure the services of Zeppo's brothers Groucho, Harpo and Chico Marx for $100,000. The result is an uneven but entertaining blend of traditional stage farce and Marxian madness. Groucho plays two-bit producer Gordon Miller, who has gone deeply into debt while trying to stage a turgid production called "Hail and Farewell". Miller and his entire cast are ensconced in the Great White Way Hotel, managed by his brother-in-law Gribble Cliff Dunstan, who is fed up with the troupe's inability to pay its bills. As Miller, his director Harry Binelli (Chico) and his business manager Faker Englund (Harpo) try to figure out new methods of raising money, in walks Leo Davis Frank Albertson, the wide-eyed playwright, who is unaware that his masterpiece is in danger of closing before it even opens. He soon figures out what's what after Harry and Faker hock his typewriter for eating money. When hotel inspector Wagner Donald MacBride threatens to throw Miller and his entourage out bag and baggage, the producer and his cronies fake a measles epidemic so that Wagner will be forced to allow them to stay. Salvation seems at hand when Jenkins Philip Wood, a potential backer, arrives with a blank check in hand. But after sampling a bit of the lunacy that has surrounded the play since its inception, Jenkins dashes off, refusing to finance such a chancy property. Miller manages to mollify Wagner by pretending that Jenkins has invested money in the show, but when this scheme falls through, our hero resorts to really drastic measures by pretending that Davis and Faker have both committed suicide because of Wagner's persecution. Weaving in and out of the proceedings are nominal heroines Lucille Ball and Ann Miller, as well as Philip Loeb (who played Faker in the original Broadway production), brilliantly cast as a mild-mannered bill collector. Room Service is hardly typical Marx Bros. fare, despite the efforts by screenwriter Morris Ryskind to inject characteristic verbal gags and visual bits into the action; the film works better as a situation comedy than as a Marx vehicle (Groucho's only comment on the subject was that his brother Zeppo should have arranged a larger salary). In 1943, RKO Radio remade Room Service as a musical titled Step Lively, which was actually something of an improvement on the original. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide At the Circus A distinct letdown from their previous MGM films, the Marx Bros.' At the Circus nonetheless contains intermittent moments of high hilarity. When Jeff Wilson (Kenny Baker) is in danger of losing his circus to crooked creditor Carter (James Burke), Jeff's faithful roustabout Antonio (Chico Marx) enlists the aid of seedy attorney J. Cheever Loophole (Groucho Marx). Despite the best efforts of Loophole, Antonio and general hanger-on Punchy (Harpo Marx), Jeff is robbed of the circus payroll by two flies in the ointment, Goliath the Strong Man (Nat Pendleton) and Little Professor Atom (Jerry Marenghi, later known as Jerry Maren). Also in on the plot to wrest control of the circus is aerialist Peerless Pauline (Eve Arden), with whom Loophole has a cozy tete-a-tete while walking on the ceiling (no kidding!) In a last-ditch effort to raise the necessary funds, Loophole romances Jeff's wealthy aunt Mrs. Dukesbury (Margaret Dumont). The finale takes place at a fancy society party at the Dukesbury mansion, with Punchy and Antonio hijacking the scheduled entertainment and replacing it with a full-fledged circus performance. Weighed down by an excess of plot and a surfeit of misfire gags, not to mention one of sappiest romantic subplots in film history (involving sappy tenor Kenny Baker and sappier ingenue Florence Rice), At the Circus still keeps audiences happy with Groucho's rendition of the deathless "Lydia the Tatooed Lady" (by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg) and the zany denoument, wherein pompous conductor Fritz Feld and his orchestra are set adrift in the middle of the ocean and the magnificent Margaret Dumont is shot out of a cannon. Best gag: When Eve Arden stuffs the circus payroll into her blouse, Groucho turns to the camera and whispers "There must be some way of getting that money back without offending the Hays Office." ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide A Night in Casablanca After a five-year absence, the Marx Brothers returned to the screen in the independently-produced effort A Night in Casablanca. Originally conceived as a parody of Casablanca (with character names like "Humphrey Bogus" and "Lowen Behold"), the film emerged as a spoof of wartime melodramas in general. Someone has been methodically murdering the managers of the Hotel Casablanca, and that someone is escaped Nazi war criminal Heinrich Stubel (Sig Ruman). Disguised as a Count Pfefferman, Stubel intends to reclaim the stolen art treasures that he's hidden in a secret room somewhere in the hotel, and the only way he can do this undetected is by bumping off the managers and taking over the hotel himself. The newest manager of Hotel Casablanca is former motel proprietor Ronald Kornblow (Groucho Marx), who, blissfully unaware that he's been hired only because no one else will take the job, immediately takes charge in his own inimitably inept fashion. Corbacchio (Chico Marx), owner of the Yellow Camel company, appoints himself as Kornblow's bodyguard, aided and abetted by Stubel's mute valet Rusty (Harpo Marx). In his efforts to kill Kornblow, Stubel dispatches femme fatale Beatrice Reiner (Lisette Verea) to romance the lecherous manager, leading to a hilarious recreation of a key comedy sequence in the Marxes' earlier A Day at the Races. Arrested on a trumped-up charge, Kornblow, Corbacchio and Rusty escape in time to foil Stubel and his stooges. As in most Marx Brothers epics, A Night in Casablanca includes a tiresome romantic subplot, this time involving disgraced French flyer (Pierre) and his faithful sweetheart Annette (Lois Collier). Though hampered by listless direction and witless one-liners, A Night in Casablanca contains enough hilarity to compensate for its many flaws; some of the best visual gags were conceived by an uncredited Frank Tashlin, including Harpo's legendary "holding up the building" bit. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
  • TCM Spotlight - Esther Williams, Vol. 2

    Type: Event | Date: Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009

    Includes - Thrill of a Romance (1945) Fiesta (1947) This Time for Keeps (1947) Pagan Love Song (1950) Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) Easy to Love (1953) Thrill of a Romance This aquatic musical is set at a mountain resort in the beautiful Sierra Nevadas where a heroic Army Air Corpsman has come for a vacation. There he falls in love with the lovely swimming instructor, who is unfortunately newly married to a rather stodgy businessman. The mayhem begins when her new husband is called to Washington on urgent business. Songs include: "Please Don't Say No, Say Maybe," "I Should Care," "Lonely Night," "Vive L'Amour," "Schubert's Serenade" and "The Thrill Of A Romance." ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide Fiesta Esther Williams moves from the swimming pool to the bull ring in this musical drama. Antonio Morales (Fortunio Bonanova) was once a champion bullfighter; now in retirement, Antonio and his wife (Mary Astor) have high hopes that their son Mario (Ricardo Montalban) will follow in his father's footsteps as a matador. However, Mario's great passion is music, and he longs to pursue a career as a composer. But there is a budding toreador in the family: Mario's sister Maria (Esther Williams), who has learned the basics of bullfighting from her sibling. Not wanting to be thought a coward, but with no desire to enter the ring, Mario allows Maria to disguise herself as him and take his place in the bullring, allowing her to compete in a traditionally male sport while Mario devotes his time to his music. Fiesta gave Ricardo Montalban his first English-speaking role, with Cyd Charisse appearing as Conchita, his love interest and dancing partner. Classical music buffs might notice that Mario's composition "Fantasia Mexican" is actually Aaron Copland's "El Salon Mexico." ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide This Time for Keeps In this aqueous musical comedy, an opera singer brings his son to Michigan's Mackinac Island where the son falls in love with the star of the "aquacaper." It is difficult to woo her as she is constantly surrounded by her piano-playing bodyguard and her ever-present grandmother. It's musical and comedic chaos as the son attempts to overcome these and other obstacles while trying to win her heart. Highlights include Jimmy Durante singing his trademark tune "Inka Dinka Do." Other songs include: "M'Appari" from "Martha," "La Donna E Mobile" from "Rigoletto," Cole Porter's "You Are So Easy to Love," "A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That," "Chiquita Banana," and "When It's Lilac Time on Mackinac Island." ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide Pagan Love Song Pagan Love Song derives its title from a 1929 tune written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown. The plot is cut from the same cloth as MGM's previous Esther Williams musicals. Sporting a black wig and deep tan, Williams plays American lass Mimi Bennett, who while on vacation in the South Seas is mistaken for a native girl by visiting schoolteacher Hazard Endicott (Howard Keel). Instantly falling in love with Mimi, Hazard attempts to court her according to Tahitian traditions. And that's about it for the plot; the rest of the film consists of Esther Williams swimming and Howard Keel singing. Based on the novel Tahiti Landfall by William S. Stone, Pagan Love Song was to have been directed by Stanley Donen, but Williams vetoed Donen in favor of Robert Alton. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Million Dollar Mermaid Who else but Esther Williams could star in a romantic drama (with musical numbers) bearing a title like this? In Million Dollar Mermaid, Williams plays Annette Kellerman, a real-life Australian swimming star who took up the sport as a child to strengthen her legs, which were severely weakened by a birth defect. The treatment proves effective, and as she grows to adulthood, Annette shows that she has the talent to be a champion swimmer, though she prefers to follow her dream of becoming a ballet dancer. When Annette's father Frederick (Walter Pidgeon) accepts
  • TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection - Holiday

    Type: Event | Date: Tuesday, Nov 3, 2009

    Includes - A Christmas Carol (1938), MPAA Rating: NR The Shop Around the Corner (1940), MPAA Rating: NR Christmas in Connecticut (1945), MPAA Rating: NR It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947) A Christmas Carol For a generation of radio fans, Lionel Barrymore was the definitive Ebeneezer Scrooge. Alas, Barrymore was crippled by arthritis by the time MGM got around to filming Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in 1938, so the Scrooge role went to contract player Reginald Owen - who, though hardly in the Barrymore league, does a splendid job. Hugo Butler's screenplay must make some adjustments from the source material. The Ghost of Christmas Past, for example, is played not by a robust middle-aged man but by a beautiful young woman (Ann Rutherford). Impeccably cast, the film includes such reliable character players as Leo G. Carroll (Marley's Ghost), Barry McKay (Scrooge's nephew Fred) and Gene and Kathleen Lockhart (Bob and Mrs. Cratchit). The Lockhart's teenaged daughter June makes her screen debut as one of the Cratchit children, while Terry Kilburn is a fine, non-sentimental Tiny Tim. Commenably short for a major production (69 minutes), MGM's Christmas Carol is one of the best adaptations of the oft-filmed Dickens Yuletide classic, and definitely on equal footing with the more famous 1951 Alastair Sim version. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide The Shop Around the Corner The Shop Around the Corner is adapted from the Hungarian play by Nikolaus (Miklos) Laszlo. Budapest gift-shop clerk Alfred Kralik (James Stewart) and newly hired shopgirl Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan) hate each other almost at first sight. Kralik would prefer the company of the woman with whom he is corresponding by mail but has never met. Novak likewise carries a torch for her male pen pal, whom she also has never laid eyes on. It doesn't take a PhD degree to figure out that Kralik and Novak have been writing letters to each other. The film's many subplots are carried by Frank Morgan as the kindhearted shopkeeper and by Joseph Schildkraut as a backstabbing employee whose comeuppance is sure to result in spontaneous applause from the audience. Directed with comic delicacy by Ernst Lubitsch, this was later remade in 1949 as In the Good Old Summertime, and in 1998 as You've Got Mail. It was also musicalized as the 1963 Broadway production She Loves Me. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Christmas in Connecticut War hero Dennis Morgan becomes the object of a publicity stunt staged by magazine publisher Sidney Greenstreet. The corpulent print mogul announces that Morgan has won a Christmas dinner, to be prepared by the magazine's housekeeping expert Barbara Stanwyck in her own Connecticut home. The catch: Not only does Stanwyck not have a home in Connecticut, but she's never been in a kitchen in her life! She also doesn't have a husband (as her articles claim), so Stanwyck's erstwhile beau Reginald Gardiner is pressed into service as the hubby. As for the cooking, that will be handled by master chef S. Z. "Cuddles" Sakall. This solves everything, right? No way, Jose. Long dismissed as a lesser film farce, Christmas in Connecticut has its own irresistible charm, and has in recent years become a perennial Christmas-eve TV attraction. Pay absolutely no attention to the 1992 TV remake, starring Dyan Cannon and directed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide It Happened on Fifth Avenue It Happened On Fifth Avenue was easily the most ambitious movie made by the then-newly-organized Allied Artists for at least a decade after its release -- actually, as a "Roy Del Ruth Production," it was made through rather than by Allied Artists, which may explain why it stands so far apart from the Bowery Boys movies and other productions normally associated with Allied during this period. And amazingly, it works, mostly thanks to a genial cast and a reasonably light touch by director/producer Roy Del Ruth, and in spite of a script that needed at least one more ed
  • TCM Greatest Classic Films - Horror

    Type: Event | Date: Tuesday, Sep 1, 2009

    Includes - Freaks (1932) Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), MPAA Rating: G House of Wax (1953) The Haunting (1963), MPAA Rating: G Freaks The genesis of MGM's Freaks was a magazine piece by Ted Robbins titled Spurs. The story involved a terrible revenge enacted by a mean-spirited circus midget upon his normal-sized wife. In adapting Spurs for the screen, writers Willis Goldbeck, Leon Gordon, Edgar Allan Wolf, and Al Boasberg retained the circus setting and the little man-big woman wedding, all the while de-vilifying the midget and transforming the woman into the true "heavy" of the piece. German "little person" Harry Earles plays Hans, who falls in love with long-legged trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova). Discovering that Hans is heir to a fortune, Cleopatra inveigles him into a marriage, all the while planning to bump off her new husband and run away with brutish strongman Hercules (Henry Victor). What she doesn't reckon with is the code of honor among circus freaks: "offend one, offend them all." What set this film apart from director Tod Browning's earlier efforts was the fact that genuine circus and carnival sideshow performers were cast as the freaks: Harry Earles and his equally diminutive sister Daisy, Siamese twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, legless Johnny Eck, armless-legless Randian (who rolls cigarettes with his teeth), androgynous Josephine-Joseph, "pinheads" Schlitzie, Elvira, Jennie Lee Snow, and so on. Upon its initial release, Freaks was greeted with such revulsion from movie-house audiences that MGM spent the next 30 years distancing themselves as far from the project as possible. For many years available only in a truncated reissue version titled Nature's Mistakes, Freaks was eventually restored to its original release print. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1941's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the second sound version of the Robert Louis Stevenson "doppelganger" tale. This time Spencer Tracy plays the benevolent Dr. Jekyll, whose experiments in releasing the evil impulses within himself transform him into the bestial Mr. Hyde. The problem here is that while Tracy is convincing enough as Hyde, we have trouble accepting him as the kindly Jekyll--exactly the opposite of the 1931 version, in which Fredric March was credible as both Jekyll and Hyde (in fairness to Tracy, it must be noted that he didn't want to play the role and had to be forced into it). MGM decreed that no publicity pictures be released showing Tracy in his Hyde makeup, thereby building up audience anticipation. It's just as well that MGM kept these pictures under wraps: Tracy's Hyde looks less like the Living Personification of Evil than like a man who's been on a three-day bender. The most fascinating aspect of this version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the casting of the two leading ladies. Ever since the 1920 John Barrymore version of this story, it has been de rigeur to symbolize the schism between Jekyll and Hyde by giving him both a "good" and "evil" girlfriend. Originally, MGM adhered to typecasting by assigning the good girl to Ingrid Bergman and the bad one to Lana Turner. But Bergman begged the studio to be allowed to play the more wicked of the two ladies; as a result, hers is by far the best performance in the picture. Neither as lively as the 1920 version nor as innovative as the 1931 remake, MGM's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is weighted down with tiresome dialogue and over-obvious symbolism (catch that dream sequence in which Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner make like racehorses!) Despite its shortcomings, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was infinitely preferable to the next remake, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953). ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide House of Wax This simplified (but lavish) remake of the 1933 melodrama The Mystery of the Wax Museum was the most financially successful 3-D production of the 1950s. In his first full-fledged "horror" role, Vincent Price plays Prof. Henry Jarrod, the
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