Friday, July 22, 2016

Robert Morley, for no particular reason

I had reason to be looking up Robert Morley yesterday evening. Apparently in How to Marry a Millionaire Lauren Bacall has a line about older men marrying younger women, and mentions "what's-his-name from The African Queen". Obviously it's a joke about her real-life husband Humphrey Bogart, who was two dozen years her senior. My first thought, however, was to turn the joke on its head and ask about a different actor from the movie.

Anyhow, a quick search of Morley brought up the fact that the trailer for The African Queen is on Youtube. Stay away from the comments, however.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy 90th birthday, Norman Jewison!

Today marks the 90th birthday of director/producer Norman Jewison, who directed about two dozen movies from the 1960s through the 1990s. His career actually started in television, but he was fortunate enough to get to do a couple of Doris Day comedies early in his film career: The Thrill of It All with James Garner (pretty good; surprisingly I've never done a full-length post on this one) and the recently-blogged about Send Me No Flowers with Rock Hudson, which as I said I didn't particularly care for.

Jewsion had a pretty broad career, doing those comedies (as well as Moonstruck in the 1980s); musicals like Fiddler on the Roofand serious dramas like In the Heat of the Night. These three movies all earned Jewison Oscar nominations for Best Director, although he didn't wan any of them. He was also nominated four times as a producer in the Best Picture category, since it's the producers who get the Oscar nowadays for the Best Picture.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Garry Marshall, 1934-2016

Producer/director Garry Marshall had died at the age of 81.

I have to admit, my first thought of Marshall when I see his name is of the TV show Happy Days, since I always saw his name in the credits as the show's producer. (He also created it, and the spinoffs from the show.) It turns out, though, that he directed several movies worth mention.

Some women may like Beaches; most normal people would probably retch at the mere mention of the movie. But Garry Marshall directed it. There's also Pretty Woman, which might be an even more remembered movie. There's also the Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn film Overboard.

Garry is the brother of actress-turned-director Penny Marshall, who was one of the stars of his show Laverne and Shirley, and who directed such movies as Jumpin' Jack Flash and Awakenings among others.

Soviet Policeman Caught in Icelandic Net

So, the headline above showed up in one of the feeds in my RSS reader. Why am I posting about it here? Never mind that the headline itself seems interesting, the one-paragraph teaser that accompanies the RSS article continues as follows"

The mystery reels fished up by lobster fishermen in Faxaflói bay earlier this month are from a Soviet film from 1968.

OK, now it makes more sense. There was apparently an article a week ago that somehow I missed in the RSS reader titled Fishermen Find Mystery Movie. To the Icelanders, of course, it would be a pretty big movie, since it's a couple of reels of an obviously foreign-language movie. Even if 10 minutes of some random 30s B movie showed up, it would throw most Americans for a loop, and I think even a lot of us who are faithful TCM viewers would have to stop and think for a bit. This is even more so for production stills. Even when it's easy to identify the actors, knowing which movie it's from is a more difficult proposition.

Anyhow, the folk's at Iceland's film archive mentioned this find on their social media, and sure enough, somebody was able to figure out what it was. Specifically, it's a 1968 Soviet movie about a village police officer. If you read the article, you'll find out a bit more about the story, as well as a wonderful photo of the film laid out to dry. How it survived decades in the ocean is beyond me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A few briefs for July 19-20, 2016

So it was Ben Mankiewicz sitting down with Lou Gossett Jr. last night to handle the Guest Programmer duties. Can't say I'm surprised.

I think I missed the Traveltalks short on Oregon that was airing this week; I saw it on the TCM weekly schedule but I think it was on yesterday. I notice, however, that Season in Tyrol is airing again, at 1:40 PM today, or following The Silent Stranger (12:00 PM, 90 min).

Among TCM's salute to westerns is The First Traveling Saleslady at 5:00 AM tomorrow. It's one I've mentioned briefly, and haven't seen since I mentioned it three years ago. Has it really been that long.

Following that, tomorrow morning and afternoon sees a whole bunch of Glenn Ford westerns.

Monday, July 18, 2016

TCM Guest Programmer July 2016: Lou Gossett, Jr.

Tonight sees another Guest Programmer on TCM. This month it's Lou Gossett, Jr, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in An Officer and a Gentleman. Presumably, this means he's sitting down with Robert Osborne, or sat down with him months ago, to discuss the four movies he selected. (Posters to the TCM boards claim this was postponed from May, implying the wraparounds were not taped before Robert Osborne's absence from presenting duties.)

Anyhow, Gossett has selected four movies, and those are:

The Blackboard Jungle at 8:00 PM, in which teacher Glenn Ford has to deal with 50s-era punks;
Touch of Evil at 9:45 PM, with Charlton Heston playing a Mexican cop involved in a cross-border murder investigation;
Lifeboat at 11:45 PM, Alfred Hitchcock's look at people shipwrecked by a Nazi U-boat who wind up in a lifeboat with the U-boat commander; and
Night of the Hunter at 1:30 AM, in which Robert Mitchum goes after two stepkids who know the location of $20,000 their biological father hid.

I'll be interested to see the first wrapround at least.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Send Me No Flowers

I recently had the chance to watch Send Me No Flowers off of my DVR. It's available on a pretty low-cost DVD if you want to watch it yourself, so I have no qualms about doing a full-length post even though I don't think it's coming up on TV any time soon.

Rock Hudson plays George Kimball, happily married to Judy (Doris Day), and living the upper-middle-class suburban life of the early 1960s: they live in a big house; he commutes to work; she's a housewife and plays at the bridge club and country club, all the while gossiping with the other women about what's going on in their neighborhood. George, for his part, is a hypochondriac, as we see at the beginning since he takes a whole bunch of pills and worries about his health.

This idyllic life is about to come to a screeching halt. George, once again fearing that he's sick, decides to go see his doctor, Dr. Morrissey (Edward Andrews). Morrissey examines George and tells George that he's just fine. George, while he's putting his clothes back on after the examination, overhears Morrissey talking with his secretary. George hears Morrissey saying that a patient has a bad ticker and is therefore terminally ill, only having months to live. This still being the 1960s, however, it's best not to tell the patient. (See The Firemen's Ball.) George, unsurprisingly, assumes that what he's overheard is about him.

The first thing he does it tell his best friend and next-door neighbor Arnold (Tony Randall) that he's going to die. And then he has to come up with a plan for putting his affairs in order. Most importantly, this means making sure that Judy is going to be OK after he dies. There's not just the matter of finances -- after all, how is a housewife going to keep up the payments on that big house -- but the idea that she's going to need a new husband. But must importantly, George doesn't want Judy to know that he is, in fact, dying.

Arnold reacts to all of this by turning to the bottle; Judy doesn't get why her husband is acting like even more of a headcase than before. When Judy's old college flame Bert (Clint Walker) shows up at the country club and George seems more than happy for her to spend time with him, she doesn't get it. Until she sees George talking with another woman from the neighborhood who's getting a divorce. Obviously, George has been cheating on her! So now George has to tell her the truth about the fact that he's dying, only of course Judy finds out that it's not the truth.

All of this is supposed to be a comedy, mind you. But to be honest, I found all of it much too wacky. Rock Hudson is just too irritating as the hypochondriac; I wanted Judy or Arnold to smack the crap out of him. Doris Day is too perky; also, the script calls her to stop on a dime and do a 180 in her feelings toward her husband on multiple occasions. Those sudden changes of emotion are implausible and make Judy come across as almost mentally unstable. Tony Randall overplays the drunk and makes his character unappealing.

The one thing I did enjoy about Send Me No Flowers was the cinematography; I've always been a sucker for the set design that's actually of that time period (as opposed to latter-day stuff trying to be retro, which always looks phony). One thing I particularly liked were the brick-red appliances in Arnold's kitchen, the refrigerator and the oven built into the wall. But that's pretty thin gruel for actually watching a whole movie like this.

Still, there are a lot of people who really seem to like Send Me No Flowers. So I think this is definitely one where you'll want to watch and judge for yourself.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Keep off the Grass, and the rest of the overnight lineup

TCM's Underground lineup for this overnight/early tomorrow morning is a bunch of drug movies. The night starts off at 2:00 AM with Reefer Madness, which for some reason is in a one-hour slot even though it's a 65-minute movie. That's followed by Marihuana, which is a 57-minute movie, also in a one-hour slot (from 3:00 AM to 4:00 AM). So even if Marihuana started immediately after Reefer Madness, they'd still be two minutes or so off schedule. I'll admit I don't know the running times down to the second; I presume that TCM will at least add the screen for the three following movies, which will add to those run times. And then there's the animated open as well as the TV-PG (or whatever rating TCM gives these movies) screens. At any rate they'll be running behind.

Allegely starting at 4:00 AM would be Cocaine Fiends, which is apparently a 68-minute movie. Thankfully, this gets us back on schedule, as the following movie is scheduled at 5:15 AM. That's the short Keep off the Grass, about the dangers of marijuana.

However, there's a second short running to fill out the night, at least according to TCM's weekly schedule: The Terrible Truth, a 10-minute short. This won't cause problems with the Sunday schedule beginning at 6:00 AM, but TCM is continuing its practice of having multiple films in a block of shorts be listed as starting at the same time. Perhaps more interestingly, my set-top box guide and IMDB both list only Keep off the Grass, and not The Terrible Truth.

Anyhow, if you want to see Keep off the Grass, it's on Youtube:

Héctor Babenco, 1946-2016

I probably should have mentioned earlier the death of Argentine-born director Héctor Babenco, who died on Wednesday in Brazil at the age of 70.

Babenco apparently didn't direct too many movies, which is part of the reason I missed notice of his death at first. But he was Oscar-nominated for directing Kiss of the Spider Woman, and then would also direct Ironweed, a movie that for me probably seems bigger than it is because the author of the book, William Kennedy, was from Albany, NY, so the local media went nuts with the "local boy makes good" stories when the book and then movie came out. (Kennedy wrote the screenplay to that, and also did the screenplay for The Cotton Club. Apparently he's still alive at 88.)

Babenco also appeared in the movie Before Night Falls, about the gay dissident Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Olivia de Havilland out of print

In looking through tonight's schedule on the TCM site, I'm somewhat surprised by what seems to have fallen out of print, based on what doesn't seem to be available from the Shop TCM site.

Tonight starts off with an Oscar-nominated performance from Olivia in The Snake Pit; at 8:00 PM. (I can't believe it's been six years since I blogged about it.) That one got a DVD release back in 2004 from Fox Studio Classics, so it's unsurprising that it's fallen out of print. I don't know if De Havilland did enough at Fox for them to put out a box set.

Coming up at 12:15 AM is de Havilland's first Oscar-winning performance, in To Each His Own. The DVDs on offer at Amazon seem not to be North American DVDs.

Perhaps most surprisingly is that A Midsummer Night's Dream, airing tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM, doesn't seem to be available from the TCM Shop. Amazon do have a 2007 DVD on offer; I'm not certain if it's in print, but it didn't seem to bring up the warning I saw for The Snake Pit that there is only a limited number of copies available. Considering that this one was put out by Warner Bros., I'm surprised they never made it part of one of those four-movie TCM-branded box sets of Olivia de Havilland movies.