Archive | May, 2013

A Hasty Looking Forward Post: Second Looks & more

31 May


I’m swamped. The ol’ theatre company is opening a weekend concert thing tonight and I have six or seven instruments to tune. So I have no excuse to be writing Upcoming Movie posts for an as-yet-undetermined audience. So this will be brief & unadorned.


I need not mention that Second Looks begins at 8:00 p.m. on TCM tonight. But I just did. Tonight: three I’ve been looking forward to (Elaine May’s A New Leaf; Those Lips, Those Eyes; Absolute Beginners) and one I loved as a kid (1941). Watch them. They all sound worthy of inclusion.

phantom-tollbooth1Also, Saturday, June 1 at 9:00 a.m., another neglected full-length Chuck Jones animated feature, The Phantom Tollbooth, based on the Norton Juster book (allegedly for kids). Don’t say there’s nothing to do in the Doldrums…

the-court-jester-basil-rathbone-danny-kaye-glynis-johns-1956While I’m at it, I should note that the perfect double feature that is The Court Jester and The Adventures of Robin Hood will begin at 8:00 p.m. Sunday, June 2. There is no reason not to watch that. Unless you’re playing ukulele in a variety show jumpsuit for a confused crowd of theatregoers…



Sunday in New York (1963)

31 May

Sunday in New York (airing on TCM Sunday, June 2 at 6:00 p.m.) is another of my beloved Bachelor Pad movies.

(Digression 1: I’m struggling to remember the other movie in which we saw this particular Pad either reused or knocked off, but we did. End Digression 1.)

(Digression 2: some part of me believes Rod Taylor fled the situation he was left in at the end of The Birds – which went unnoticed in NYC having happened west of Teaneck – changed his name and started a normal life on a Philly newspaper. It colors his behavior here for me. End Digression 2.)

Sunday in New York (1963)

Let’s be clear, now: this is not a longing for days of pre-feminism or rampant indoor cigar smoking or what have you. And the general Paleness of even the crowd scenes is always disconcerting. (Though I’ll admit that I find appealing in non-movie photos of the day the waning of that era in which people of all walks did seem to make rather more an effort when leaving the house.) But I have an already-remarked-upon affinity for movies that, even if they don’t feature Peter Nero literally, feature him figuratively. If that makes sense. Also, wicker-cozied barware. What can one do?

And while I believe the sexual revolution was a good thing for the world, it was in the long run a bad thing for comedy. Something to do with removed restrictions and a splintering of decorums, I guess. (Don’t give me that red squiggle, spellcheck – “decorums” is perfectly acceptable. I just looked it up.)

Still, the pleasure of this little period piece is more than surface. There’s a real and charming chemistry between Fonda and Taylor that makes a difference; in other hands (I suppose this is true of anything) this might creak, but there’s a sense that their concerns are real.

Libeled Lady (1936)

28 May

I write with my frequent assumption that you have not seen the movie in question, in this instance Libeled Lady, particularly because if you have seen Libeled Lady, you don’t need me to weigh in.

Bless you, if you have not. My envy must be palpable – you have the chance (on TCM on Thursday, May 30 at 12:30 p.m. and again on Saturday, June 1 at 8:00 p.m.) to see for the first time this shiny little charmer starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy, and Jean Harlow.

Libeled Lady (1936)

…these people, irrespectively…

I don’t know what to add beyond that except perhaps to suggest putting some M&M’s in the freezer so they’re good and cold, popping some popcorn, and putting a little bit of the hot popcorn and cold M&M’s in your mouth simultaneously. It’s the only thing I can think of that could improve your viewing experience, barring dietary concerns. Enjoy!

Announcement of New Feature: After the Silents

26 May

This promises to fascinate. Stay tuned!

Movies Silently

Movies Silently News Banner

I am very excited to announce a new feature for the site: After the Silents.

What is it? It will involve brief reviews covering sound movies that feature silent era performers and directors.

I got the idea for this feature in two parts. First, I noticed as I was doing research using sites like IMDB and Wikipedia that one phrase kept cropping up: “One of the few silent era performers to make it into talkies.” I read the phrase in dozens of articles in a row! Now anyone familiar with silent movies and early talkies knows that lots of silent era performers made the jump, albeit sometimes with diminished prestige. This “one of the few” talk may seem like a small issue but it bugged me all the same.

The second part of the idea came when Joey over at The Last Drive In asked me to join her William…

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Looking Backward: TCM Second Looks, Friday, May 24

26 May

It’s difficult, I find, to write specifics about Second Look movies after indulging in the pleasures of participating in the massively-attended live Twitter Wingdings Illeana Douglas hosts during these programming blocks.

Inside Daisy Clover (1965)

She carries that hat off almost as well as Jerry Biffle.

#TCMparty has been around much, much longer than Second Looks, but I must say there’s a lot of life in these Friday nights; I think it’s in the nature of the Second Looks idea that there’s a uniformly fun attitude about these movies – they’re unfamiliar to most, beloved by a cult, and if ever a crowd was willing to accept a proposed movie as sometimes-touch-and-go but worth the attention, it’s the #TCMparty-ers. Which makes for lively chatter. (There was even some time in Twitter Jail for Douglas last night because of the crazy amount of activity. A badge of honor.) But precious little of the Internet’s usual polarizing diatribe style of discourse.

I have to collapse after the third movie (usually around 2 a.m. here), so I missed out on the end of the conversation, but I recommend the experience highly. It’s the best party on the Internet.

Anyway, in brief:

Inside Daisy Clover would probably have worked really well if it had been made in 1970 instead – the waning days of the studio system were barely willing to take on the subject matter the film danced around, and the temporal distance from the era it dealt with was awkward  – but there were still some stunning visuals and tremendous performances from Christopher Plummer (same year as Sound of Music!), Ruth Gordon, Katharine Bard, Robert Redford and, of course, Natalie Wood, who I still think does better silent than verbal work (the breakdown and the self-imposed muteness after) but has ample face time here for the former;

The Loved One (1965)

Who is Aimee wearing? Chanel’s Leia Boleyn collecton.

The Loved One, as noted, I’ve seen and loved already, but it was really nice to watch it with some other Misfit Toys of its age (all the movies were from 1965 except The Arrangement from 1969);

Mickey One (1965)


Mickey One was a grand surprise, a movie I’d probably never have run across and was really into. The Getz/Sauter score, the Chicago locations, the general Frenchness, frisky but not cloying, a bunch of incredible faces among the day players, and a terrific not-depending-on-his-looks Warren Beatty bein’ all paranoid and freaked out (and a surprisingly effective lounge entertainer);

The Arrangement (1969)

(Season 7 Mad Men spoiler)

The Arrangement lagged for me in its final half hour, but overall it was kept exciting by Kazan’s direction and Kirk Douglas’s face which, young and old (cf. Ace in the Hole on a previous Second Looks), is un-unwatchable (the breakdown and the self-imposed muteness after…hmm), and the cast is impressive top to bottom. I was surprised by how little Kazan’s late 60s gimmickry bothered me – I guess the context of Guy Losing It forgives a lot of trickery (and I forgave this more than I was willing to forgive Fight Club by the end. Maybe that’s just me.) Think like the doorknob Foley when Charles doesn’t enter Gwen’s bedroom and the lights and shadows in the little room where Flo & Eddie have their final knockdown (my Wife as we watched noted that the married couple at its center are named Flo & Eddie; coincidence).

The Arrangement also really drove home Inside Daisy Clover’s lessons that sisters named Gloria are a handful, and breakdown-based real estate decisions are invariably flammable. (Sidenote: I just happen to be in the middle of Walker Percy’s Lancelot, which…nevermind. I’m beset on all sides here.)

Another Second Look worth every minute of lost sleep.


An Unsullied Shield

24 May

An Unsullied Shield

Thanks to Movies, Silently.

Quickie: Jack Carson & Andie MacDowell

22 May

So, Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941) was on yesterday, and suddenly, after twenty solid minutes of Lombard and Montgomery screwballity, there he was. Jack Carson.

Jack Carson

Nope. Not funny.

I have observed in the first month of this darkling whistle solo a strict policy to follow the teachings of Thumper’s Father, and if nothing nice could be said, nothing was said at all. There’s enough of that floating around this web of ours.

But I must confess that I’ve never laughed once at Jack Carson and yet he is always presented in a context that implies I’m supposed to. The man had a string of third rate Not-Road movies with Dennis Morgan; someone thought he was funny. It has not been properly explained to me thus far.

And yet there he is in Mr. & Mrs. Smith; Destry Ride Again; Stage Door; Love Crazy; The Male Animal (the quintessential Carson role); Arsenic & Old Lace; Dangerous When Wet; The Strawberry Blonde. Movies I either love or at least like a heap in insomnia-/comfort- based viewing situations. And surrounded by the some of the finest casts casts ever assembled.

Then I remembered Andie MacDowell.

Andie MacDowell and Jack Lemmon

Andie MacDowell, somehow with Jack Lemmon

Groundhog Day; Short Cuts; Four Weddings and a Funeral; St. Elmo’s Fire; Green Card (well, maybe not Green Card).

And it hit me…

Andie MacDowell is to the 90s what Jack Carson was to the 40s: A harbinger of a terrific cast that will act as a reminder of how good the rest of that cast is.

Except mercifully no one ever gave Mac Dowell a series of third rate Not-Road movies.

I apologize profusely for this (I assure you) temporary but unavoidable detour into negativity. I will be steadfast in my attempts to avoid any such cheap shots in the future.