Saturday, April 29, 2017

Tonight's Movie: World Without End (1956) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The Allied Artists sci-fi film WORLD WITHOUT END (1956) has just been released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

This mid '50s film may be hokey at times -- giant plastic spiders attack the heroes early on! -- but it's also highly entertaining, and the new Blu-ray is a thing of beauty. Those who love '50s sci-fi will want to grab this one.

The plot concerns four astronauts (Hugh Marlowe, Rod Taylor, Nelson Leigh, and Christopher Dark) who've been on a mission to cruise by Mars when their ship loses contact with Earth. The men pass out and ultimately crash land on Earth...and then realize they've hurtled forward in time by hundreds of years.

That realization comes as a particular blow to one of the men (Dark) who left behind a wife (Nancy Howard) and two children (Mimi Gibson and Hugh Corcoran), but there's no time to grieve as within short order the men must battle for survival, attacked by the giant (plastic) spiders and then a violent band of one-eyed cavemen.

Ultimately the men are rescued by an underground community, survivors of an atomic war, which mostly consists of elderly men, gorgeous young women (Nancy Gates, Lisa Montell, and Shawn Smith) in space miniskirts, and very few children.

The children are dying living underground, and the men left in the community don't have the nerve to fight the atomic mutants who live on the earth's surface. It's up to the astronauts to show the men how to retake earth and bring their children into the sunlight.

Between the spiders, the one-eyed mutants, and "earth" being good old Iverson Ranch here in Southern California, the movie may seem a bit silly at times, but all in all it's got a good script and an engaging cast.

Marlowe starred the same year in the classic EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS (1956), and he makes a good sci-fi hero, sort of in a Richard Carlson mode. And Rod Taylor completely steals the show with his Aussie charm; I imagine he was supposed to be American but he's got an accent in this one. Taylor was just emerging into stardom in 1956, with a supporting role in GIANT (1956) and a starring part opposite Debbie Reynolds in THE CATERED AFFAIR (1956); a few years later he would also star in another time travel film, the classic THE TIME MACHINE (1960).

WORLD WITHOUT END has lots of eye candy between the shirtless Taylor, the miniskirted Gates, and the fun and colorful underground sets. There's also a thoughtful script which, like so many '50s sci-fi films, reflects the fears of the atomic era.

WORLD WITHOUT END was written and directed by Edward Bernds. It was filmed in CinemaScope by Ellsworth Fredricks. The running time is a brisk 80 minutes.

The Warner Archive Blu-ray looks fantastic and is highly recommended for '50s sci-fi fans. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDS and Blu-rays are sold.

Tonight's Movie: Reno (1939) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Richard Dix stars in RENO (1939), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Dix plays William Shayne, a mineral rights lawyer who turns to a divorce practice when miners leave the area, threatening to turn Reno into a ghost town.

Shayne helps put the "biggest little city in the world" on the map for the unhappily married and gamblers, but in turn his own marriage to Jessie (Gail Patrick) suffers. He and Jessie eventually separate, but he's determined to see his daughter Joanne (Anita Louise) not make the same mistake with her own marriage, and he goes to extreme lengths to keep that from happening.

Given the three leads and John Farrow as director -- the same year Farrow made the exciting FIVE CAME BACK (1939) -- RENO is surprisingly tepid.

The plot, surrounded by a flashback framework involving Shayne being tried for running a crooked gambling house, is awkwardly constructed and manages to ramble quite a bit despite a short 73-minute running time.

Individual scenes have some interest but it's a movie in search of a story. There's not much of one, other than already outlined above. With intelligent actors like Dix and Patrick starring, I suspect this could have been quite an interesting movie if only their relationship weren't so underwritten.

Likewise, the lovely Louise doesn't do much but pout and serve as the reason for the flashback story.

Louis Jean Heydt has a nice role as an attorney who in his later years is the judge in the trial scenes. There's also a good role for Hobart Cavanaugh as Dix's friend and colleague.

Selmer Jackson, who seems to turn up constantly in my recent viewing, plays an attorney. The cast also includes Laura Hope Crews, Joyce Compton, Charles Halton, Astrid Allwyn, Paul Cavanagh, and Frank Faylen.

The movie was filmed by J. Roy Hunt.

Previous reviews of Richard Dix films: LOVIN' THE LADIES (1930), THE PUBLIC DEFENDER (1931), HELL'S HIGHWAY (1932), ROAR OF THE DRAGON (1932), HIS GREATEST GAMBLE (1934), THE ARIZONIAN (1935), SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR (1936), YELLOW DUST (1936), IT HAPPENED IN HOLLYWOOD (1937), BLIND ALIBI (1938), SKY GIANT (1938), TWELVE CROWDED HOURS (1939), MEN AGAINST THE SKY (1940), THE ROUNDUP (1941), TOMBSTONE: THE TOWN TOO TOUGH TO DIE (1942), and THE KANSAN (1943).

The Warner Archive print is in good shape although the soundtrack seemed fainter than usual. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDS and Blu-rays are sold.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Their Finest (2016)

THEIR FINEST (2016) is an enjoyable film about the production of a British morale-boosting film made during the London Blitz.

At the start of the 1940s, with England in the thick of World War II, Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) suddenly has the opportunity to jump from copywriter to screenwriting. Catrin ends up working with two men (Sam Claflin and Paul Ritter) to provide the "woman's angle" on a film about the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The movie is loosely inspired by twin women who took a boat to Dunkirk, but since they weren't able to make it to shore, Catrin must embellish their story. The scriptwriters also deal with varied demands, such as the Secretary of War (Jeremy Irons) wanting the film to help rally Americans to fight for England. To that end, a real-life American-born RAF fighter pilot hero (Jake Lacy of MISS SLOANE) is worked into the cast, despite the fact that Americans weren't at Dunkirk  -- and despite the fact that he can't act!

On a personal front, Catrin struggles with her relationship with her significant other (Jack Huston), a painter, while feeling a quiet attraction toward one of her writing partners (Claflin).

THEIR FINEST is a solid film which gets a lot right. The cast is excellent, with strong performances from Arterton and Claflin, and Bill Nighy is a scene-stealing gem as an aging actor.

I especially liked that the script avoids cliches for Nighy's character; the scene where he's finessed into serving as acting coach to the pilot who can't act is a gem, as are subsequent scenes of him working with the young man.

It's a terrific role and performance by Nighy. Another scene where he leads the film crew singing in a pub is genuinely moving, as is a scene where he tells Catrin that, as an older man and a woman, the war has given each of them opportunities they wouldn't have otherwise had.

The "woman's angle" is not just something Catrin provides for the movie within a movie, but it's a running subtext for the entire film, whether it's Catrin being told she won't receive the same pay as the men or the Secretary (Irons) repeatedly patting her shoulders as he makes his pitch for using the film for diplomatic purposes. The tone regarding this seemed just right; enough to make the viewer think about it, yet not so heavy-handed that it pulls one out of the 1940s setting.

The movie is also largely successful conveying an authentic London of the '40s; we know there must be some green screen work involved, but it didn't feel as overt to me as it did in, say, THE IMITATION GAME (2014). The film actually shows fairly little of the city, which probably made it easier, yet it captures the feel of London.

Where the movie let me down was in the "movie within a movie" scenes. Yes, movies in the '40s filmed in tanks and had fake backdrops, but the finished "movie" doesn't really look like anything actually made in the era, and it's also a shade too hokey to be taken seriously. The scenes work if you look at them as satire, but there's an extended sequence near the end as Catrin watches the film with a genuinely moved audience, and what's on screen is simply incongruous with the audience's reactions. I found this a significant problem in a film which is otherwise quite good; it almost, perhaps unintentionally, insults the audience in the film for being so easily manipulated.

To a lesser extent, I was disappointed in a character death I found entirely predictable, although I must say I didn't see the manner of death coming. The staging was also odd in that everyone walks off and leaves someone alone in the aftermath, who clearly shouldn't have been ignored at that moment. I wished the movie hadn't felt the need to go that direction with the story.

I've read a number of strong reviews of the film, and while I enjoyed it quite well, I think there tends to be what I've started to think of as a LA LA LAND (2016) phenomenon, where anything that's creative and different, with filmmakers thinking "outside the box," gets reviewer bonus points that might not really be warranted.

That said, the "different" setting was part of what made the film enjoyable to me; the Blitz is part of any number of actual '40s films I like, such as CONFIRM OR DENY (1941) or one of my favorite musicals, TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945), but it's certainly a change of pace for a brand-new film.

It's worth noting that this summer will see the release of Christopher Nolan's DUNKIRK (2017). The two films could end up making an interesting double bill one day!

Supporting actor Jack Huston (seen at left) is the fourth generation of the Huston family to work in films; he is the great-grandson of Walter and the grandson of John, his father being Tony Huston. Anjelica is his aunt. The cast also includes Diana Rigg's daughter, Rachael Stirling.

The movie was directed by Lone Scherfig. It was filmed by Sebastian Blenkov. The script by Gaby Chiappe was based on a novel by Lissa Evans. The running time is 117 minutes.

The trailer is here.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated R. There is a brief scene of a couple "caught in the act" and a couple of scenes showing bombing victims. All are telegraphed in advance for those who want to avoid looking, but parents may want to steer clear of this for children. The up side is the film's depiction of resilience, hard work, and patriotism under very difficult conditions.

All in all, THEIR FINEST may be somewhat oversold in some quarters, but it's a good film which I do recommend seeing. I liked it and will want to see it again.

Finally, a couple of my periodic comments on the current state of the moviegoing experience, following posts of January and September.

First, one has to really want to see a movie these days, knowing that before seeing it you'll have to sit through a good 20 minutes of trailers, some of which are quite disturbing. I found the trailer for THE BEGUILED (2017) upsetting, and I was also unhappy having to sit through several minutes of Al Gore yelling in AN INCONVENIENT SEQUEL (2017). And when I recently saw THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017) that meant sitting through several extremely violent action trailers completely different in tone from the movie I was there to see. Sigh.

Also, the trailers were played at full volume and perfectly understandable, but the volume on the movie itself then dropped significantly. Not ideal when we were straining to pick up some of the voices with their clipped British accents! It seemed to us to reflect the lack of a projectionist actually paying attention and adjusting accordingly. I'm going to want to see this again on DVD in part to pick up the dialogue I missed.

Movie-going issues such as I've written about here and in the past make me extremely grateful to have so many great experiences seeing older films at theaters such as the Egyptian and the Billy Wilder.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kathleen Crowley Dies at 87

Actress Kathleen Crowley has died at the age of 87.


Crowley was born December 26, 1929, in Green Bank, New Jersey, where she passed away on April 23rd. An obituary appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.


Crowley was best known for her appearances in countless TV Westerns. She appeared in more episodes of my favorite TV series, MAVERICK -- eight in all -- than any other actress. She was in two episodes apiece as the recurring characters Melanie Blake and Marla, and she also took over the role of Modesty Blaine from Mona Freeman for a single episode.


With MAVERICK star Jack Kelly:


With Mike Road, Kelly, and Will Wright:


In addition to the five MAVERICK episodes mentioned above, she was in three more, including one ("Kiz") where she was uncharacteristically dark-haired. She's seen below in that episode with Roger Moore and Whit Bissell.


Her film appearances also included Westerns, notably THE SILVER WHIP (1953) with Dale Robertson and Rory Calhoun, Disney's WESTWARD HO, THE WAGONS! (1956) with Fess Parker, and the superb, underrated THE QUIET GUN (1957) opposite Forrest Tucker.


Crowley married in 1969 and when her son was born in 1970, she retired from the screen after a 20-year career.

Sincere condolences to the family and friends of a lovely lady whose work brought me great pleasure.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Richest Girl in the World (1934) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Miriam Hopkins is THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (1934). It's a delightful film just released on DVD by the Warner Archive.

In the Oscar-nominated story by Norman Krasna, Dorothy Hunter (Hopkins) despairs of finding someone who will truly love her, not her money. When she falls for Tony Travers (Joel McCrea), she tells him she's Sylvia, Dorothy's secretary, in order to find out if he can love her for herself.

The real Sylvia (Fay Wray) agrees to pose as Dorothy, but when Dorothy tests Tony's love for her by throwing him at the faux Dorothy, it gets very complicated, given that Sylvia is actually a newlywed head over heels in love with the long-suffering Phillip (Reginald Denny), who's anxious to move back home to England with his bride.

Will true love win? What do you think?

This film is a lot of fun thanks to the deft playing by the cast, which also includes the wonderful Henry Stephenson as John, Dorothy's guardian and mentor.

This was one of several films Hopkins and McCrea made together in the mid '30s, and he'd also previously worked with Wray in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932). When McCrea makes his dashing entrance, I could just imagine an enthusiastic crowd applauding if the movie were ever shown at a TCM Film Fest! He and Hopkins work well together, his relaxed attitude being a good foil for her excitability.

Wray and Denny are particularly charming as the newlywed lovebirds who delay their plans in hopes of helping Dorothy land her man. Wray had a real knack for comedy, as she demonstrated that same year in THE AFFAIRS OF CELLINI (1934); some of her side eye expressions are hilarious. Her eyeball roll near the end when she realizes that Tony saw Phillip sneaking into her bedroom late at night is worth the price of admission; that's followed by a funny scene as Phillip arrives at the breakfast table in a very happy mood.

The complicated plot could have been wrapped up a little more clearly at the end of this 76-minute film, but that's my only real complaint; there's some nonsense about every passenger on the ship where "Sylvia" and Tony sail getting a nice upgrade, as apparently Tony still doesn't know she's Dorothy, and John wants her to have a nice honeymoon. In the wrong hands the story might not have come off as well, with the leading man duped as to Dorothy's identity for so long, but thanks to the ensemble and a funny script it's all very light and frothy.

Selmer Jackson turns up here as a doctor. It's at least the fourth film I've seen him in in the last few days! Small wonder, as IMDb shows he had well over 400 credits.

The cast also includes Beryl Mercer, George Meeker, and Edgar Norton. Bess Flowers is a party guest.

THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD was directed by William A. Seiter. It was filmed by Nicholas Musuraca.

I previously reviewed this film in 2009; please check out that older review for interesting info on Reginald Denny's second career as an aviation pioneer. My liking for Denny in this film and my interest in his aviation inventions prompted us to pay our respects at his final resting place at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills earlier this month. He was a fascinating, multitalented man.

The Warner Archive print was occasionally light and scratchy, and I thought the soundtrack was a little weaker than the typical Warner Archive film, but it's still quite watchable. There are no extras.

THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD was remade as BRIDE BY MISTAKE (1944), also available from the Warner Archive. The Hopkins and McCrea roles are played by Laraine Day and Alan Curtis in the remake, with Marsha Hunt and Allyn Joslyn in the Wray and Denny parts.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDS and Blu-rays are sold.

Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival Opens in Palm Springs on May 11th

The 2017 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival opens in Palm Springs, California, on Thursday, May 11th.

The festival runs through Sunday, May 14th. All festival screenings take place at the Camelot Theatres located at 2300 East Baristo Road in Palm Springs.

I attended the 2015 Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival and had a fantastic time. I had to miss it last year as it coincided with our son's college graduation, but I'll be back in Palm Springs to cover this year's festival!

In 2015 I especially enjoyed the way the festival mixed plenty of movies with a relaxed, convivial atmosphere. No need to stand in lines to get into the movies, and there's plenty of time to eat between films; restaurants are just blocks away.

There are also interviews with notable special guests, and film introductions are provided by top film noir experts.

Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation is the festival's producer and host. Additionally, some of the movies at the festival will be introduced by the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller and Foster Hirsch.

The festival opens on Thursday evening, May 11th, with a screening of HOLLOW TRIUMPH (1948), also known as THE SCAR, starring Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett.

Monika Henreid, Paul's daughter, will be the festival's opening night guest. I saw Monika interviewed last year at a Noir City screening of DECEPTION (1946), and she was an interesting and knowledgeable speaker about her father's career.

Friday's slate of four movies starts off with THE CHASE (1946) at 10:00 a.m. THE CHASE is a terrific film starring Robert Cummings and Michele Morgan, seen at left, along with Steve Cochran and Peter Lorre.

Next up is Anthony Mann's moving SIDE STREET (1950), starring Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell.

SIDE STREET is followed by Broderick Crawford in ALL THE KING'S MEN (1949), which I've not seen before. John Ireland, Joanne Dru, and Mercedes McCambridge costar. ALL THE KING'S MEN won Best Picture as well as Oscars for Crawford and McCambridge and a nomination for Ireland.

The evening concludes with what might be my favorite Dan Duryea film, BLACK ANGEL (1946), costarring June Vincent and Peter Lorre. Duryea is superb in a heartbreaking role. His son Richard will be the evening's guest. I've also heard Richard speak at a past event and look forward to hearing more stories about his legendary father.

Saturday morning starts off with SPLIT SECOND (1953), directed by Dick Powell and starring Stephen McNally and Alexis Smith. I've never seen that one and especially look forward to it.

The second film of the day will be Paul Lukas in ADDRESS UNKNOWN (1944), a cautionary tale about Nazis and the dangers of "going along to get along" which I saw a few weeks ago at the Noir City Film Festival.

The day continues with the "jazz noir" MEET DANNY WILSON (1951), starring Frank Sinatra, Shelley Winters, Alex Nicol, and Raymond Burr. I really enjoy this film, which mixes a number of Sinatra standards into the story.

Saturday night concludes with a screening of CHARLEY VARRICK (1973), starring Walter Matthau and Felicia Farr. Costar Andrew Robinson will be in attendance that evening. I saw Robinson on stage with James Whitmore in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER circa 1980 so it's rather fun to be able to see him again in person so many years later.

The festival draws to a close with a three-film day on Sunday, kicking off with another favorite of mine, Anthony Mann's DESPERATE (1947), starring Steve Brodie and the wonderful Audrey Long, seen at left.

Sunday afternoon there's another special treat: Boris Karloff's daughter Sara will be present for a screening of THE BODY SNATCHER (1945), starring her father and Bela Lugosi, directed by Robert Wise.

The festival wraps up late Sunday afternoon with NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950), starring Richard Widmark and Gene Tierney, directed by Jules Dassin.

Please visit the festival website for additional information and tickets.

I strongly encourage my fellow classic film fans to make the trek out to the desert for a long weekend of film noir; a great time is guaranteed!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Other Men's Women (1931)

OTHER MEN'S WOMEN (1931), a Warner Bros. pre-Code directed by William A. Wellman, is the latest film I've watched via the Warner Archive streaming service.

I've been having something of a Mary Astor festival this week, watching her in a series of films with "woman" or "women" in the title! She was the heroine as the wronged wife in SMART WOMAN (1931) and a calculating shrew in WOMAN AGAINST WOMAN (1938).

In OTHER MEN'S WOMEN Astor falls somewhere in between, playing a good woman who makes a momentary bad decision.

Her character, Lily, is happily married to railroad engineer Jack (Regis Toomey)...but when Jack's coworker Bill (Grant Withers) moves in for a few months after his latest bout with the bottle gets him kicked out by his landlady, sparks eventually start flying between the sobered-up Bill and Lily.

Bill and Lily try to do the honorable thing and Bill moves out, but when Jack learns the truth about Bill and Lily's feelings for one another, tragedy results.

OTHER MEN'S WOMEN is an engrossing melodrama, made with the brisk toughness typical of Wellman's Depression-era films. The movie features strongly delineated, imperfect but interesting characters and has tremendous atmosphere; the location photography at a Southern Pacific Railroad yard called to mind Wellman's later WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD (1933).

One of the interesting little bits in the film is Bill's habit of hopping off a train as it slowly heads through a yard; he runs into a diner and grabs some food, counting the cars as they go by, then runs out and hops back on the caboose. From there he clambers roof to roof over each car until he's back in the engine!

An odd aspect to the movie is it's the first time I can recall a blind character walking around with his eyes always closed. No explanation is given, and it seemed a bit peculiar.

In addition to Withers, Astor, and Toomey, there's strong support from James Cagney, appearing in his third film as Bill and Jack's coworker, and Joan Blondell as Bill's sometime girlfriend, a diner waitress named Marie. The cast also includes J. Farrell MacDonald, Fred Kohler, and Walter Long.

OTHER MEN'S WOMEN was filmed by Barney McGill. It runs 70 minutes.

OTHER MEN'S WOMEN, which was part of a 2009 Forbidden Hollywood DVD set, is one of roughly 20 pre-Code titles currently available to stream from Warner Archive. The print looked crisp and clear. Closed captioning is available.

I've previously reviewed another pre-Code title which currently streams at the Warner Archive site, BIG BUSINESS GIRL (1931). The titles periodically rotate so these films will likely leave the service at some point, replaced by a batch of fresh titles.

Thanks to Warner Archive for providing reviewer access to their streaming service. Warner Archive is available on desktop at WarnerArchive.com as well as via Roku, Apple TV, and iOS and Android apps.

Tonight's Movie: Wanted! Jane Turner (1936) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Lee Tracy and Gloria Stuart are an engaging detective team in WANTED! JANE TURNER (1936), recently released by the Warner Archive.

I first saw this film last August, and I was so taken with it that I expressed the hope that it would eventually be released on a Warner Archive DVD. Happily I didn't have very long to wait, and I've now enjoyed it all over again thanks to this new release.

Tracy and Stuart start in this quick 66-minute film as Tom Mallory and Doris Martin. Tom and Doris are postal investigators who enjoy a friendly rivalry. They bicker and argue as they work but clearly get a kick out of it; there's some real chemistry between the two.

What's more, they're professional equals, and at movie's end Tom tells his boss that he can count on "the Mallorys" for future investigations. (I wish there had been a sequel!) It's an interesting contrast from the end of the previous year's ORCHIDS TO YOU (1935), viewed last week, which ends with the heroine planning to give up her thriving flower shop for homemaking.

That said, Doris is also a great cook, and Stuart ended up cooking in publicity for the film, seen at right.

In WANTED! JANE TURNER Tom and Doris are on the trail of Phil Crowley (RKO's ubiquitous Paul Guilfoyle), who murdered a mail delivery truck driver. The trail leads from the East Coast to Los Angeles, where they gradually close in on Phil and his henchmen.

The cast includes Frank M. Thomas in a nice part as a general delivery mail clerk. Also in the film are Barbara Pepper, Judith Blake, John McGuire, Irene Franklin, Patricia Wilder, Willard Robertson, and Selmer Jackson. (This is at least the third film I've seen with Jackson in the past week!) Watch for Bess Flowers as a hotel mail clerk.

The movie has some nice L.A. location shooting, plus the film opens in one of RKO's typically gorgeous '30s Art Deco sets, in this case a hotel.

The film also provides some interesting peeks into life as it was in the past, whether it's hotel mail chutes and full-time hotel mail clerks or the passing parade at the general delivery window.

WANTED! JANE TURNER was directed by Edward Killy and filmed by Robert de Grasse. It runs a quick 66 minutes.

The DVD print is fine. There are no extras.

For more on this movie, please visit KC's review at A Classic Movie Blog; she enjoyed it as well and found it "a snappy, high-spirited 66 minute window into what the world would be like if everyone thought of that clever remark before they went home for the night."

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDS and Blu-rays are sold.

The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Five

Sunday, the final day of the 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival, was bright and sunny, the better to offset everyone's sadness that the festival was almost over!

First thing Sunday I made one more trip to the Egyptian Theatre, this time to see a digital print of THE EGG AND I (1947) starring Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert.

Here's a shot of Disney's El Capitan Theatre and the neighboring Ghirardelli shop which I took during my walk to the Egyptian. The El Capitan hasn't been a festival venue the last couple of years, but I hope it will be again in the future!


10:15 was the latest I began my movie watching days during the festival, which gave me plenty of time to check out of my hotel before heading off to a four-movie day.


THE EGG AND I was introduced by Tiffany Vazquez, who interviewed Kate MacMurray, daughter of Fred MacMurray and June Haver.


Kate spoke of her parents in glowing terms, relating charming anecdotes about Fred showing up to fix June's plumbing at the start of their courtship; early on he also filled June's fairly empty refrigerator with groceries. When she protested that he'd brought over things she didn't eat, he said, "No, but I do!" -- letting her know he was serious about spending lots of time together. Here's a shot of MacMurray and Haver at home:


Kate also said she had visited his sets only rarely, as he viewed a movie set as a "place of business."

Kate said that her father didn't think it was polite to talk about favorite leading ladies, but that enough years had passed she thought it was all right to say that his favorites were Carole Lombard and Claudette Colbert.


A nice surprise was that THE EGG AND I was preceded by a Merry Melodies cartoon which tied in to the movie's "chicken" theme. I'd love to see this done at the festival more frequently, although I imagine the schedules are already tight enough it might not be easy to pull off.

After THE EGG AND I it was time to head to the "big" Chinese for another Colbert film, THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942). Like THE EGG AND I, THE PALM BEACH STORY was a digital screening.


Before the film Cari Beauchamp interviewed Joel McCrea's grandson Wyatt, who did a wonderful job sharing some stories about his grandfather. Something I'd never noticed before is that the part in McCrea's hair changes midway through the film; McCrea changed it and director Sturges never noticed!

I loved that the Chinese interviews were also put on a big screen this year!


We visited McCrea Ranch with a few other bloggers the Sunday before the festival started; here's a shot of Wyatt I took on the front porch of his grandparents' home. A video interview with Wyatt should be available at Classic Movies and More in the near future.


As for THE PALM BEACH STORY, it's one of my all-time favorite comedies. What a joy to see it with a big crowd laughing along! (And something I never noticed before: The maid of honor in the opening wedding scene is the ubiquitous "dress extra" Bess Flowers.)


Some of Mary Astor's family were on hand along with members of the McCrea family, and Astor received big applause when she first appeared.


On my original schedule I planned to see SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952) at this point unless there was a "Sunday repeat" I wanted to see more. It just so happened that the Lubitsch film ONE HOUR WITH YOU (1932), starring Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier, was shown in the Chinese multiplex, and I couldn't pass it up!

Tiffany Vazquez provided the intro to ONE HOUR WITH YOU:


I first saw ONE HOUR WITH YOU as a teenager at L.A.'s Vagabond Theater, and I revisited it a few years ago via DVD. Seeing it at the festival was a great experience; it was screened in UCLA's 35mm print, complete with some scenes in blue and sepia tints!


The very last film of the festival was Harold Lloyd in SPEEDY (1928). SPEEDY was shown in digital format.


My friend Jandy and I got in line very early, as the movie was showing in a somewhat smaller venue and we didn't want to risk missing out! I was the seventh in line, and I was happy to spend a couple of hours waiting, knowing I'd be in the audience for this special closing night screening.


SPEEDY was presented by Leonard Maltin and Harold Lloyd's granddaughter Suzanne, who shared the same duties three years ago presenting the Harold Lloyd film WHY WORRY? (1923).


The movie was accompanied by the Alloy Orchestra, a three-person ensemble which accompanies silent films at both live screenings and on DVDs. Here they take a deserved hand at the end of a very entertaining movie:


And just like that the 2017 festival was over! Time for a quick spin through Club TCM at the Hollywood Roosevelt to say goodbye to the many friends who are, year after year, the very best part of the TCM Classic Film Festival. What a joy to share so many great movies in a warm community of like-minded film fans from across the country and beyond.

Then I headed for home, with countless happy memories, already looking forward to seeing what's ahead at the 2018 festival!

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