My addiction to Turner Classic Movies is something that I struggle with daily and that I have no current plans to seek help for. One of my favorite things about TCM is their diversity. Everything from British New Wave to obscure, early 30s gems. Sometimes they're winners, sometimes they're duds. Each month I'll be letting you know about those films airing on TCM that are worth making room for on the DVR. Links to purchasing information can be found by clicking on the film titles.
THE L SHAPED ROOM (1962) Leslie Caron, Tom Bell, Brock Peters, Cicely Courtneidge, Bernard Lee, Avis Bunnage, Patricia Phoenix.
|Leslie Caron shows off some leg in "The L Shaped Room"|
Powerful drama with Caron as a single pregnant woman who decides to have her baby in spite of overwhelming pressure to have an abortion. She moves into a low income London flat where she meets a kind jazz player (Peters) a depressed writer (Bell) an aging actress with a heartbreaking secret (Courtneidge) and a prostitute (Phoenix). Superb, poignant performances by Caron and the rest. Cicely Courtneidge is a revelation. Well written with refreshingly honest dialogue. Highly recommended.
CENTRAL AIRPORT (1933) Richard Barthelmess, Sally Eilers, Tom Brown.
Barthelmess is a former pilot who is forced to step down after a crash in bad weather is blamed on “pilot error”. He then becomes a stunt pilot for skydiving stunt woman Eilers. Brown is Barthelmess’ younger brother and test pilot. They both fall for Eilers immediately. Brown wins her hand after a misunderstanding leads Eilers into thinking that Barthelmess doesn’t love her. Heartbroken, Barthelmess becomes a flyer for the Chinese air force. Years later he meets Eilers again and the sparks fly while baby brother Brown is away on a dangerous flight overseas. This is one of those early 30s 70 minute gems. A trifle, but entertaining. It’s kind of fun to see how airports looked once upon a time.
Entertaining family fare with Webb as a television writer of a “mister wizard” type of show that is hemorrhaging ratings and sponsors. In an attempt to find out more about what children like in order to save his show, he becomes the scoutmaster for the local boy scout troop and gets more than he bargained for. However, Webb’s typical “Belvedere” style no nonsense approach quickly wins over both parents and scouts alike. Sappy but cute.
THE PURCHASE PRICE (1932) Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Lyle Talbot.
Stanwyck is a night club singer whose impending marriage into high society is her ticket out of “the life”. But the parents of the groom put the kibosh on the wedding when they find out that she was the former moll of a notorious criminal (Lyle Talbot). In an attempt to leave the shady past that haunts her, Stanwyck takes the place of a mail order bride intended for a farmer (George Brent) out in the boonies. But Brent is about to lose his farm unless he can convince the bank to give him time to plant specially designed seeds for wheat that will make him a fortune. As time goes on Stanwyck learns to love the life and Brent and in an effort to help save his farm, she turns to gangster Talbot for help. Bad idea. Very enjoyable, early performances by Stanwyck and Brent and a pre code gem.
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS (1950) Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Karl Malden, Gary Merrill, Bert Freed, Tom Tully, Ruth Donnelly.
“Laura” team Preminger, Andrews and Tierney team up again for this superb film noir. Andrews is a cop with a penchant for beating up criminals. After accidentally killing a suspect he tries to cover it up. Things get more complicated when detective Malden pins the crime on an innocent cab driver who turns out to be the father of the victims estranged and abused wife (Tierney).
MAN WITH THE GUN (1955) Robert Mitchum, Jan Sterling, Karen Sharpe, Henry Hull, Emile Meyer, John Lupton, Claude Akins, Angie Dickinson.
During one mission, Szabo is captured by the Germans and tortured. McKenna is very engaging as Szabo. The movie has a nice mixture of drama, espionage and action. Has a few slow parts but ultimately an entertaining movie.
THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING (1935) Edward G. Robinson, Jean Arthur, Donald Meek, Edward Brophy, Wallace Ford, Arthur Hohl.
|Robinson meets his devilish double in "The Whole Town's Talking"|
A comedy directed by John Ford isn’t something you see every day and this one had a particularly promising concept. Robinson as mild mannered paper pusher “Mr. Jones” who looks exactly like a notorious gangster called “Killer Manion”. After the police mistake Jones for “Killer”, he's given a note signed by the DA saying who he really is in case he’s ever stopped by the police again.
|Jean Arthur and Edward G. Robinson|