Tag Archives: looking forward

Looking Forward: Sh! The Octopus (1937)

4 Jul

480_sh-the-octopusSh! The Octopus is obviously something I’m going to love and, equally obviously, probably terrible. The fact that Hugh Herbert and Allen Jenkins have top billing. That’s sufficient information for me to make my previous judgment. It’s on TCM July 5 at 6:15 a.m. Let’s enjoy it, shall we?

Looking Forward: Ah, Wilderness (1935)

3 Jul

Ah Wilderness 3So, it’s Shaw in the morning and O’Neill at night for me – I’ve never seen the 1935 film of O’Neill’s Ah, Wilderness (though oddly I know both musical versions, Summer Holiday and Take Me Along). That will be remedied on July 4 around 10:45 p.m. thanks to the TCM Independence Day lineup. Quietly, I hope for rain.

No more homework. I’ll see you here sometime after it airs.

Looking Forward: And So They Were Married (1936)

3 Jul

and-so-they-were-married-7I missed And So They Were Married on the listings somehow, but it’s on TCM tonight (July 3) at 11:15 p.m. An Elliott Nugent screwball starring Melvyn Douglas and Mary Astor. Which begs the question, “Why am I seeing this for the first time?”

See you here sometime after it airs.

Looking Forward: The Devil’s Disciple (1959)

1 Jul

devilsdiscipleI’ve seen no shortage of Shaw film adaptations, most of them, I think. I’ve been made to feel guilty for my Shawlove, but that doesn’t work anymore. I have no defense and require none.

But the first/last time I saw The Devil’s Disciple (which airs on TCM on July 4 – natch – was so very long ago (I’m pretty sure I had only seen Pygmalion and My Fair Lady at that point) that I have little memory of it and probably didn’t get it anyway.

So it’s time to do it again. See you here sometime after it airs.

Looking Backward: Holiday (1938)

23 Jun

I am evermore impressed when a movie can plausibly result in (75-year-old spoiler) an interfamilial partner swap. I never watched much Jerry Springer, but I understand it happens all the time.

Annex - Grant, Cary (Holiday)_07My last viewing of Holiday was when I was about thirteen or fourteen, which in the case of a movie like this is like not having seen it at all. It’s all very well for folks to bemoan an ancient G-Rated age of classics, but this is undeniably for grown-ups. I still remember loving it (and The Philadelphia Story, which for obvious reasons is in the same category, though I somehow managed to memorize that one almost in its entirety).

But from a too-youthful viewing perspective, this is the sort of movie that leads to a dangerous and beautiful romanticism. Not the romance kind, though the connection between Hepburn and Grant is lovely. I refer to the sparkly and shiny dialogue that though I didn’t get it all gave me high hopes for what adult discourse would entail…as unreasonable an assumption, as it turns out, as watching Shakespeare and expecting everyone to speaking in connotative and layered verse.

(Horton’s line, “You’d better be a good little girl and eat your porridge,” gave me an unavoidable flashback to an even earlier Fractured Fairy Tales age.)

Furthermore, Oscars, schmoscars: this is, I’m convinced, high on the list of Katherine Hepburn’s finest work, in that while I appreciate and in fact prefer pre-Method/”naturalism” film acting, this performance manages to have it both ways, even trickier in a “those poor rich folks” story.

Anyway, I’m thrilled to have had a chance to revisit this in this way, with a memory of what would happen but a chance to let adult understanding dawn as I watched. Fine work, all.

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…


Looking Forward: TCM Second Looks, Friday May 24

22 May

This week’s lineup: Inside Daisy Clover (1965) (1965); The Loved One (1965) (1965); Mickey One (1965) (1965); and The Arrangement (1969) (1969).

This time around I can speak only for The Loved One, a gleefully messed-up adaptation of a gleefully messed-up Evelyn Waugh novel with a ridiculous cast including the recently-late Jonathan Winters in arguably his best harnessed role(s), the recently-revisited Liberace…

The Loved One (1965)

“…our Mr. Starker will counsel you as to your loved one’s additional needs.”

…not to mention Robert Morse (in a role Bert Cooper probably didn’t go see him in), John Gielgud, and Rod Steiger in (and please appreciate this statement) his most unsettling role. Which is also hilarious.

The rest I am blissfully unaware of, except for Inside Daisy Clover, which I’ve seen little chunks of and which my wife “loved as a child but was less excited by as an adult,” which begs the question, “what were those people letting her watch?” But in the 7os, kiddos, we were strong of will and could handle things that lived in that land between Saw and the straight-to-video Tinker Bell movies. Strong of will were we…

Looking Forward: Never Too Late (1965)

15 May
Never Too Late (1965)

This one captions itself.

I’m vaguely aware of the existence of Never Too Late as a playscript, but this has remained off my radar otherwise. Why is it on my radar now? Well:

a) because it’s being televised on TCM this Friday, May 17 at 6:00 p.m. (a warmup to “Second Looks”);

b) my yearning to see character actors in leading roles wants very much to watch Paul Ford (The Music Man’s Mayor Shinn, Sgt. Bilko’s Col. Hall, big fancy rich man Ballinger in my childhood love A Big Hand for the Little Lady) running the show in this sort-of pre-All in the Family turn from producers Norman Lear and directed by Bud Yorkin; and

c) my anthropological fascination with mid-twentieth-century comedy as cultural document will be indulged.

So, I’m in.

See you back here sometime after that.

Looking Forward: Friday Night “Second Looks,” featuring Ace in the Hole (1951), Top Banana (1954), It’s Always Fair Weather (1955), and Our Man in Havana (1960)

15 May
Ace in the Hole (1951)

Phone the neighbors, wake the kids: Second Looks!

Looking forward to this lineup quite a bit – I’m not certain about Ace in the Hole as a forgotten/underestimated film (there’s a Criterion edition, after all; I think of maybe Five Graves to Cairo or The Fortune Cookie falling more under that heading), but as far as recognition goes, it’s no The Apartment or Some Like it Hot, so I suppose it’s a fair choice. And for all my nitpicking here, I haven’t seen the damned thing and very much want to, so…shutting up and anticipating.

Top Banana (1954)

What I love about this picture? The snap.

Top Banana is kind of a mess to watch – the hacked up editing is a royal mess, and just gets worse as the movie continues, so I warn you not to concern yourself with puny concerns like a “plot” or “concern for characters.” Phooey. You’re here to watch a machine at work, and that machine is Phil Silvers in burlesque mode. There are actors in this who give you the impression that you’re watching a glorified 50s teleplay (which, in many ways, you are), but they only serve to make the Pros shine even more (not just Silvers; Dick Van Dyke Show players to be Rose Marie and Herbie Faye, plus Joey Faye and Jack Albertson) in what is more or less a live performance. The ladder scene, the burlesque flashback (pointless, technically, but also the prime reason to watch)…let’s just say that while sane actors have dream roles like Othello or Mary Tyrone or whatever, I’d love a shot at Jerry Biffle. You may say I’m a dreamer.

It’s Always Fair Weather is perfect as a Second Look, though I’m not sure what keeps people away from it. I suppose it’s a bit dark for a Comden/Green/Kelly/Donen musical, but man. Trashcans. Cyd Charisse. Roller skates. Cyd Charisse. Also, Cyd Charisse.

It's Always Fair Weather (1955)

I forgot how I was going to caption this.

I’m back.

Regardless, it’s not perfection like Singin’ in the Rain, and it shows some marks from its era, but it’s got a lot of masterful work in it. And also, Cyd Charisse.*

Our Man in Havana (1960)

A man called… “Smith.”

Lastly, another one I should be embarrassed about but can’t be (you know, one has only so many hours), Our Man in Havana. How is it that I’ve seen Alec Guinness vehicles like The Captain’s Paradise and Last Holiday, to say nothing of the more obvious big name Ealing comedies, but not this one, which I feel like I’ve known for years was out there waiting? Plus Maureen O’Hara, Ernie Kovacs and with Carol Reed in the canvas-backed highchair? My Saturday is going to be shot, but technology or no, I may have to stay up until 4:00 a.m. EST watching this one.

See you back here after (and probably making a nuisance of myself on #TCMParty during)!

*Not to mention Michael Kidd. The Wife and I, like most married types, have a running Michael Kidd gag. We went through a spell ten years or so ago wherein we watched several documentaries or DVD extras that were by chance for movies in some way featuring Michael Kidd. They were all famous and successful, but in his interview, an older, surlier Kidd (seemingly always during the same longer interview) started every story (at least, our memory has made this so) with some variation of, “Well, they called me and told me they wanted me to do this picture and I really didn’t want to. I wasn’t interested and I didn’t see any reason to get involved in it.” And the result was always Seven Brides or what have you.

Michael Kidd

“I didn’t want this Oscar, you know.”

This has taken on a life of its own in our household, sometimes pointedly (“Kidd didn’t want to cross left in that scene, you know”), sometimes at random (“You know who was supposed to star in Thoroughly Modern Millie but wasn’t interested?”), always hilarious. To us. The winter nights just fly.

LOOKING FORWARD: The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956); Also: Bell, Book & Candle (1959)

12 May
The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956)

I know, I know. But I’ve seen all the other ones! Even Full of Life!

I have, like most right-thinking people, a fondness for the comedies of Judy Holliday, yet somehow I’ve not seen The Solid Gold Cadillac. But now, I shall, as it’s on TCM Thursday, May 16 at 2:15 p.m.

(It should be noted that Born Yesterday is on a few hours earlier at 5:30 a.m., which I’d write about, too, were I not swamped.)

See you here sometime soon after that.

Bell, Book & Candle (1959)

Bell, Book & Candle, the other Jimmy-Stewart-is-mystically-enthralled-and-manipulated-by-Kim-Novak movie, was once a community theatre staple, and the film version is occasionally trotted out as a Christmas movie on technicality, but my love for it (without over-emphasizing a languid, backless and capri-panted Kim Novak) is based in its beatniks.

Oh, movie beatniks, how love you. How I long to attend your nonexistent nightlong barefoot bongo wine party. I cannot explain, but it’s not love if it can be explained. The over-herbed Jack Lemmon fingertip-drumming while French cabaret guy Philippe Clay does…whatever it is he does…is worth the film’s entire budget.

Philippe Clay


The Zodiac is the “kind of a dive” (along with the 30s/40s cinematic idea of the nightclub floor show) that never existed in this form outside the movies, and that I nonetheless pine for quietly in reality. I’m one of the lucky ones: there are plenty of adults we all know who have swallowed a false nostalgia or mistaken the pretty pictures for “historical documents” a la the aliens in Galaxy Quest – but when offered the oddball performance of Clay, the gleeful eccentricities of Elsa Lanchester, Hermione Gingold and, bless him, Ernie Kovacs, the glass on the snowy sidewalk that lets you know what’s happening underground…well, I, if I may momentarily adopt the Liz Lemon vernacular, want to go to there.

Someone clearly decided (rightly) that Kim Novak had a particular chemistry with her main co-star, meaning of course that particular shade of blue-green light that’s used heavily here (the summoning flame, the Pywacket spell before it goes all purple, most of the lights in the Zodiac) and more pointedly in Vertigo the previous year. It’s such an era-specific color, too…

Novak in Vertigo (1958)

Daisy Buchanan, Schmaisy Buchanan.

…which makes for a nice segue into another subgenre affinity I have, perhaps related to my faux-beatnik love: New York ca. 1955-65. It would be easy to call it the Bachelor Pad era (Sunday in New York, Any Wednesday, Boys Night Out, The Apartment), but it’s also the era of The Desk Set, Bells Are Ringing and this lovely little piece. It’s as much about design elements – that shade of blue-green, the look of the apartments and offices, the still-high pants but thinner ties- anything else. I have a reaction to this era that a more susceptible person might take to be proof of reincarnation or spiritual transference (unbeliever though I be in the Carlotta Valdes racket). One might go at least so far as to use a word like “grok,” anyway, if the Liz Lemon thing didn’t work out.

And, like the Zodiac, if that city existed, it’s gone now. But the sets sure are pretty.


A postscript about Stewart: most people love him for his charmingly backward romantic speechifying in one American classic or another. For me, it’s for moments like his response to his own failed attempt to hail a taxi in a living room, which ranks above even Gene Wilder’s silent reaction to sheep-love in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*.

*that asterisk doesn’t lead anywhere. It’s part of the title.