A nice variety of musicals on TCM this month, including some famous flops as well as some beloved classics. Click away for MacDonald and Eddy, Joan Crawford, Doris Day, Gene Kelly, Irene Dunne, Mario Lanza, and more! Continue Reading →
Some classic movies sound good in theory, yet tend to wallow on Must See lists and Netflix queues rather than actual screens, as the timing may just never feel quite right to sit down and watch a heady 3 hour epic or a cerebral foreign drama. And then there are movies like It Happened One Night, which is just about as much of a delight today as it was upon initial release. Part of the reason it still feels so fresh and vibrant is Hollywood’s inherently cyclical nature—when one film does something right, it’s natural that later films would attempt to replicate certain elements in hopes of creating some of the same movie magic. Well, It Happened One Night did the romantic comedy so well that it’s not only been copied countless times, but it also firmly established many of the genre’s tropes that we now come to take for granted. Continue Reading →
Ahem. Imagine, if you will, the following scenario:
You’re an actress in the early, rough-and-tumble days of silent film, a pioneer on the forefront of a burgeoning industry. You’re already popular enough that you’re used to random visitors demanding attention from you on the set, but you prefer to stay focused on your work—hell, your dress is so delicate you don’t even get to sit all the way down. You deserve to smoke your cigarette in peace.
A lot of times when I’m thinking about the Code, I tend to oversimplify it into a distinct “before” and “after;” the befores all exposition scenes in lingerie, the afters all punitive morality fables. The truth is a little more complicated than that, and the changes affected more than just skimpy costumes and suggestive dialogue. Choreography, as Busby Berkeley experienced, was also a target—especially if your pre-Code style relied more heavily on leggy chorus girls than Fred and Ginger gliding across the dance floor in evening wear.
In lieu of a full, minute-by-minute recap—at least for now—I’ve been thinking about all the great individual moments I had at this year’s TCM Film Festival. From new friends to fun events to magical movie sequences, there were so many little elements that had to come together to create the whole overall experience… and here are a few of my favorites! Continue Reading →
When you start to watch a musical made in 1954, starring Jane Powell and Debbie Reynolds, with the same songwriters as Meet Me in St. Louis, you might think you have a pretty solid concept of what’s to come before you’ve even hit play. But that’s not quite the case with Athena, a film that seems to actively avoid many of this era’s favorite musical comedy tropes—the Broadway ingenue, the sailor, love-at-first-sight, and so on—while also playing within the confines of the genre. These two factors combine to make for an engagingly offbeat and joyfully eccentric original work from MGM, available on DVD and streaming from Warner Archive. Continue Reading →
I’m delighted to be heading to the TCM Film Festival once again this year, marking my third official trip to the fest—and second year with all the access that a coveted Classic pass provides! This year’s theme is “History According to Hollywood,” which, at another festival, might mean a drab selection of biopics and well-regarded … Continue Reading →
The Long, Hot Summer is a sticky Southern drama based on a combination of works by William Faulkner. It’s very much in the vein of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which came out just a few months later and, of course, also starred Paul Newman. Here, Newman plays Ben Quick, a drifter expelled from his previous town after being suspected of burning down a barn. He has the good fortune to catch a ride from Eula (Lee Remick) and Clara (Joanne Woodward), whose father, Will (Orson Welles), basically owns the town. Upon meeting Ben, patriarch Will becomes a little bit smitten with the hardworking, ambitious fellow—and who wouldn’t? Those dimples!—and eyes him as a possible heir to his throne, in place of his amiable but gutless son, Jody (Anthony Franciosa).