Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

“Are you packing?” “Yes, dear—I’m putting away this liquor…”

I’m sure you’ve well aware of this by now—and mayhap seen it mentioned on other classic movie blogs—but TCM will ring in 2010 this evening with a festival of films featuring the original eat-drink-and-be-merry couple, Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell, Myrna Loy). The festivities start at 8:00pm with The Thin Man (1934), followed by After the Thin Man (1936, 9:45pm), Another Thin Man (1939, 11:45pm), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941, 1:45am), The Thin Man Goes Home (1945, 3:30am) and Song of the Thin Man (1947, 5:15am). (You just knew I changed the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear banner for a reason, didn’t you?)

I’m certainly up for seeing as many of the Thin Man flicks as I can—I’m not certain as to what the ‘rents plan to do but I’m sure it won’t take much to convince them to spend the New Year’s with Nick and Nora. I’m scheduled to make an appearance there later this evening and while the menu was still being decided at press time, I’m sure there’ll be goodies galore (Mom was turning over the idea of hot wings and peel ‘n eat shrimp). As for recording any of the Nick & Nora films, I was blessed many Christmases ago with receiving the box set of all six movies as a gift.

The question remains, though—will the films being broadcast this evening be subject to recordability? I bring this up—not to scare anybody, I assure you—but to report that my good friend Hal Erickson mentioned earlier this week on Facebook that his attempt to record the John Barrymore version of Sherlock Holmes (1922) was stymied because apparently TCM is starting to “copy-guard” their movies. Again, I don’t want the vast TDOY audience to start running in panic, but Hal—who has a Samsung DVD recorder and receives TCM via AT&T U-verse—is certainly within his rights to raise this issue. He reports that AT&T has claimed it has nothing to do with protecting the signal, and goes on further to say that other cable services have reported this problem (Cox, for example). Speaking only for myself, I haven’t had any difficulties so maybe CharredHer hasn’t gotten on the bandwagon yet. A friend of mine mentioned to me that he is unable to record that Elvis Costello series on the Sundance Channel because of copy-guarding, and I’ve heard others testify that the same practice has occurred on many of the premium movie channels as well. (I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Hal’s choice of DVD recorder might have something to do with this; I have a Toshiba recorder that’s so sensitive that when I tried to record a recently purchased used VHS of The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend [1949] a voice emanated from the machine saying “Don’t even f***ing think about it!” in a tone that suggested said voice had spent a good deal of their spare time in Jersey.)

Assuming that TCM is starting to slowly phase this phenomena in, I suspect the other channels—FMC and AMC, to be sure—will no doubt follow suit; and I can hear the corporate suits defending the practice now: “We’re just protecting future sales of our own DVD collections.” I suppose that might be a legitimate offense if every single solitary movie shown on TCM were available on disc—but that is certainly not the case nor is it realistic to assume it ever will be. I shall certainly keep an eye on this and if it does take effect here at Rancho Yesteryear, rest assured that “TCM” will be a four-letter word around this household for many years to come.

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“I`m sorry…I`m just a guy who cares an awful lot about my classic movie channel...”

I don’t make it a point to visit Big Hollywood too often—mostly because I haven’t had all my shots—but this recent post by editor-in-chief John Nolte sort of started in me an involuntary rolling-of-the-eyeballs. Titled “Will Ben Mankiewicz Be Allowed to Destroy Turner Classic Movies?”, it describes how Johnny-O had to mosey on over to his fainting couch because Big Bad Ben had the unmitigated gall to draw a comparison between the character played by Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd (1957) and a certain modern-day radio/television demagogue prone to crying jags while on the air:

Not only was Mankiewicz clearly referring to right-wing talk radio, it was just as obvious with his snide ”cry on cue” comment that he was specifically targeting Glenn Beck.

Why is this one comment worth complaining about? Because we all know that this is how it always starts. Those of us who just want to sit back and relax and enjoy something without having to be on guard concerning a cheap sucker shot aimed at who we are and what we believe in have seen it start just like this a thousand times. Once the dam springs a leak … the dam always ends up bursting. Always. And then, once again, we lose something we love.

For the record, had Mankiewicz abused this opportunity to trash Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann it would have been just as gratuitous and unwelcome.

I’m surprised Nolte was able to write that last line with a straight face—but then again: “If you believe it, it’s not a lie.”

The Goatee’d One can interpret the meaning of Elia Kazan’s masterpiece in today’s world all he wants, but he needs to keep that interpretation to himself and show his viewers the respect of allowing us to interpret it for our own selves.

If Mankiewicz isn’t mature enough to understand how important this is to the success of a network that enjoys the affection of a whole swath of Americans who have otherwise given up on Hollywood, he needs to be fired. And if Mankiweicz is too thick to understand that ”A Face In the Crowd” remains as effective a piece of filmmaking today as it was fifty years ago specifically due to the fact that it transcends petty partisan politics, he needs to take a leave of absence and read a book.

(*sigh*) Where to begin?

For the record, I’m not a big fan of Mankiewicz’s. While I will readily concede that the man does carry classic movie bona fides (his grandfather was screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and great uncle Joseph L. Mankiewicz, writer-director of classics like A Letter to Three Wives [1949] and All About Eve [1950]) I find him a bit smarmy and lacking in gravitas. But as far as Ben’s comments went—I don’t think they were out of place. Crowd is an unrelentingly scathing portrayal of a media-created demagogue, and regardless of Glenn Beck’s political views (Nolte’s mention of “petty partisan politics” shouldn’t apply here because to my knowledge Beck has never affiliated himself with any particular political party) he fits the description of the word to a T. In all seriousness, if Nolte has an axe to grind about this he should go after Keith Olbermann—who’s been referring to the lachrymose pundit as “Lonesome Rhodes” Beck on MSNBC’s Countdown for quite a while now.

Nolte describes TCM as “a politics-free zone” and laments that “for the first time in my fifteen years of dedication to this irreplaceable reservoir of the medium I love, I felt sucker-punched.” Well, walk it off, crybaby. If you seriously think that TCM is untouched by politics, let’s just take a quick look at some of the movies frequently shown by the channel: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Network (1976), To Be or Not to Be (1942), Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), Coming Home (1978), The Green Berets (1968), Fail-Safe (1964), Spartacus (1960), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Meet John Doe (1941), The Parallax View (1974), The Great Dictator (1940), All the King's Men (1949), The Best Man (1964), The Last Hurrah (1958), The Alamo (1960), Seven Days in May (1964)…and too many more to list. TCM has also showcased documentaries like Hidden Values: The Movies of the Fifties (2001) and featured festivals illustrating how blacks, Asians and Latinos have been depicted in films. In January, TCM will showcase a festival entitled Shadows of Russia, and anti-Commie agitprop vehicles like Conspirator (1949), I Was a Communist for the FBI (1950) and My Son John (1952) will be among the offerings. As director Joe Dante once observed: “All movies are political, either overtly or coded, often unwittingly. Life is political. To pretend otherwise is to kid yourself and your audience.”

As for “interpret[ing] the meaning of Elia Kazan’s masterpiece in today’s world all he wants. but he needs to keep that interpretation to himself and show his viewers the respect of allowing us to interpret it for our own selves”—perhaps Nolte is unaware of this article written by the Village Voice’s J. Hoberman from February 2008, in which Hoberman discusses Crowd with the late screenwriter Budd Schulberg:

In the '80s, Kazan began saying that he and Schulberg had made a movie about Ronald Reagan back in the days when Reagan was still shilling for GE. Although Reagan's election might have rendered A Face in the Crowd passé, the idea of a remake was floated throughout his presidency. Afterward, it simply became conventional wisdom. No great stretch of the imagination is required to see Lee Atwater as George H.W. Bush's Lonesome Rhodes or Ross Perot as a Rhodes knockoff—and only a mild sense of tabloid melodrama is necessary to appreciate Hillary playing Patricia Neal to Bill's Andy Griffith (now vice versa). To watch Bush II work his down-home magic on a preselected crowd is to be reminded of Rhodes's modus operandi. More recently, A Face in the Crowd can seem to presage the media-manufactured candidacy and TV-honed persona of failed hopeful Senator Fred Thompson. I asked Schulberg if he saw another Arkansas fellow traveler in the 2008 race: "Huckabee has some touches," he replied.

Poor John-John. Maybe he should heed his own advice of taking “a leave of absence and read a book.”

(Note: When I made the decision to write this post, I was unaware that the subject had been covered by Vadim Rizov at The Independent Eye at His piece—hilariously titled “What year did they invent politics again?”—is a bit more concise than mine, so you owe it to yourself to give it a glance.)

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stuff like that there

The Library of Congress has announced its picks for the annual National Film Registry, which selects each year those films that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant to be preserved for all time. Among the twenty-five films that received the nod in 2009: Dog Day Afternoon (1975), The Exiles (1961), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Jezebel (1938), Little Nemo (1911), Mabel's Blunder (1914), The Mark of Zorro (1940), Mrs. Miniver (1942), The Muppet Movie (1979), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Pillow Talk (1959), Story of G.I. Joe (1945), Thriller (1983) and Under Western Stars (1938). It’s nice to see Mabel Normand (Blunder) and Roy Rogers (Stars) get their due, but Thriller—well, the LOC does stress “these films are not selected as the ‘best’ American films of all time, but rather as works of enduring importance to American culture.” You can download a .pdf file of the 2009 honorees here; there are now 525 films in the Registry.

In a related story, the U.S. Postal Service has announced some of the lucky celebrities whose visages will appear on commemorative stamps in 2010; they include singing cowboy Gene Autry (part of a four-part set that will also feature Gene’s rival Roy Rogers, as well as silent screen cowpokes Tom Mix and William S. Hart; 50 Westerns from the 50s has a peek at what the stamps will look like), famed WW2 cartoonist Bill Mauldin, Oscar-winning actress Katharine Hepburn, pioneering filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, artist Winslow Homer and God Bless America songstress Kate Smith. The USPS will also honor the Sunday funnies with a set of stamps featuring comic strips like Archie, Beetle Bailey, Dennis the Menace, Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes. (I’m not the biggest Hepburn fan around but I do like that stamp picture; I may have to get some of them when they come out.)

“Uncle” Sam Wilson takes a look at one of my favorite silent comedy films (well, to be totally inclusive, one of my favorite films ever) over at Mondo 70: A Wild World of Cinema, Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last! (1923). Not to be outdone, Ed Howard dissects another TDOY fave, The Conversation (1974), over at Only the Cinema. Both essays are a jolly good read.

Finally, my good Facebook friend Lloyd Fonvielle of mardecortesbaja fame e-mailed me a link to the following video on YouTube which I think my fellow classic film buffs will get a tremendous kick out of. Lloyd informed me that it was shot over one weekend with an HD camera (a Sony EX1 with a Letus adapter for standard 35mm Canon lenses) and the end result is positively stunning. (The musical numbers are great, too—particularly Mr. Monaco.)

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When worlds collide #79

Bogie Oogie Oogie

In one half-hour from now, Turner Classic Movies will conclude its Star of the Month tribute to the gentleman who—if the votes were properly tallied and the machines weren’t manufactured by Diebold—is probably my favorite silver screen actor of all time. I’ve only missed recording two of the Bogart films shown this month: the previously mentioned Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) and Conflict (1945)—and Conflict was my own foul-up…I was taking a shower and oblivious to the fact that it started at 1:00pm (this little snafu occurred last Wednesday).

So here’s today’s schedule (with the missing dusty TDOY archive titles in green)—all times EST:

December 30 – Wednesday

6:00 AM Tokyo Joe (1949)

An American in post-war Japan gets caught up in the black market. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Sessue Hayakawa, Alexander Knox. Dir: Stuart Heisler. BW-89 mins, TV-PG, CC

7:30 AM Chain Lightning (1950)

A reckless jet pilot goes to work for a demanding aviation tycoon. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Eleanor Parker, Raymond Massey. Dir: Stuart Heisler. BW-95 mins, TV-PG, CC

9:15 AM In a Lonely Place (1950)

An aspiring actress begins to suspect that her temperamental boyfriend is a murderer. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy. Dir: Nicholas Ray. BW-93 mins, TV-PG, CC

11:00 AM Sirocco (1951)

A mysterious American gets mixed up with gunrunners in Syria. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Marta Toren, Lee J. Cobb. Dir: Curtis Bernhardt. BW-98 mins, TV-PG, CC

12:45 PM Battle Circus (1953)

A doctor fights for his life during the Korean War. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, June Allyson, Keenan Wynn. Dir: Richard Brooks. BW-90 mins, TV-PG, CC

2:15 PM Barefoot Contessa, The (1954)

A Spanish dancer becomes an international star but still longs to get her feet in the dirt. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien. Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz. C-130 mins, TV-G, CC

4:30 PM Harder They Fall, The (1956)

A cynical press agent exposes inhuman conditions in the boxing game. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling. Dir: Mark Robson. BW-109 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

6:30 PM Bacall on Bogart (1988)

Lauren Bacall hosts this extraordinary documentary on her life on- and off-screen with her late husband, Humphrey Bogart. Cast: HOST: Lauren Bacall. Dir: David Heeley. C-84 mins, TV-G, CC

8:00 PM Deadline U.S.A. (1952)

With three days before his paper folds, a crusading editor tries to expose a vicious gangster. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ethel Barrymore, Kim Hunter. Dir: Richard Brooks. BW-87 mins, CC

9:45 PM Left Hand of God, The (1955)

The new priest at a Chinese mission takes an unorthodox approach to spreading God's word. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gene Tierney, Lee J. Cobb. Dir: Edward Dmytryk. C-87 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

11:30 PM Beat The Devil (1954)

A group of con artists stake their claim on a bogus uranium mine. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones. Dir: John Huston. BW-90 mins, TV-PG, CC

1:30 AM Caine Mutiny, The (1954)

Naval officers begin to suspect their captain of insanity. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson. Dir: Edward Dmytryk. C-125 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

4:00 AM Two Guys From Milwaukee (1946)

A runaway prince in disguise takes up with a taxi driver. Cast: Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, Joan Leslie. Dir: David Butler. BW-90 mins, TV-G, CC

I’m particularly pumped to see Deadline - U.S.A. (1952) and The Left Hand of God (1955) in the lineup; they’re not strangers to the classic movie cable channels but since both of them are 20th Century-Fox releases they’re confined mainly to showings on the Fox Movie Channel (so I’m sure Bobby Osbo will no doubt call these two vehicles “premieres”). Deadline’s the better of the two, a solid newspaper drama with Bogie as the editor of a crusading rag about to be closed by its owners. Left isn’t the best Bogart film (but bad Bogie is better than most); he’s a “priest” who assists several Chinese villages in holding off the civil war and revolution surrounding them circa 1947.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with the offerings showcased in the Bogie festival, though there were a few glaring emissions: though most of Bogart’s early films are either unavailable or inaccessible I don’t see why TCM couldn’t have borrowed FMC’s print of Up the River (1930) along with Deadline and Left. Other noteworthy Bogies absent from the salute include Stand-In (1937; I knew I was going to regret selling my unwrapped copy on eBay), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), The Enforcer (1951), Sabrina (1954), We're No Angels (1955; that one’s for Doc Quatermass) and The Desperate Hours (1955). (With the exceptions of Stand-In and Angels, I have the other ones on disc. I wish Enforcer wouldn’t keep falling in between the cracks; it’s a really snappy little noir.) And since TCM included several films with Bogart cameos—Lucky Stars, Road to Bali (1952) and tonight’s Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946)—they could have sneaked in Always Together (1947) and The Love Lottery (1954), too.

But enough of my incessant nit-picking. It’s time to enjoy the show!

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Monday, December 28, 2009

A Shreve Family Christmas 2009

Hard to believe I’ve been away from the blog for so long…and even harder to believe that it took me so much time to get back of the swing of scribbling. I officially got back to Castle Yesteryear Sunday around 11-ish but I felt the need to sort of convalesce (that’s probably not the right word) after having so much fun with sister Kat and the ‘rents.

Christmas Eve dinner was a true feast for the Half-Assed Gourmand: Kat and her roommate prepared a cheese/meat fondue (chicken, steak and shrimp) but chose to open with some appetizers, including homemade won-tons and mussels (this last menu item was a spur of the moment addition). There were also desserts galore: Christmas cookies, homemade cocoanut cream pie (the crust contains ground-up cashews) and a first-rate “last course” called a gingerbread trifle that contained gingerbread (natch), whipped cream, raspberries, blackberries and lemon curd. Nothing comes between me and a piece of gingerbread, so the trifle was positively delicious.

For Christmas dinner my mother made both a standing rib roast and a small turkey breast, complete with mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (somewhere Sam Johnson is looking down on me, grimacing), creamed carrots, hot rolls, garnishes and cranberry relish. Needless to say, it was enjoyed by all.

My original game plan was to go back to the house on Christmas night but my mother was determined to make me sleep another night on the “inflatable furniture” she purchased for the occasion. I told her that if she would allow me to place the MPI Sherlock Holmes box sets that I bought her many years back (including the single DVDs The Hound of the Baskervilles [1939] and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes [1939]) into the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives for safekeeping there would be no need for me to head back home so soon, (The only downside to this was that I was unable to tape A Study in Terror (1965)—but politics is the art of compromise, and I will look for a return on TCM.) Five minutes later, we both assigned a historical classic cinema accord that will stand as a model for the art of negotiation in years to come, and then she, Dad and I watched Baskervilles and Adventures on Turner Classic Movies in the privacy of their downstairs lodgings. (Unfortunately, I dozed off during Adventures—possibly due to the monstrous holiday meal.)

I missed seeing Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) on TCM the next morning but was up and about in plenty of time to catch the bulk of the “Holmes for Christmas” entries: Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943), Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943), Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943), The Spider Woman (1944), The Scarlet Claw (1944) and The Pearl of Death (1944). (I decided to get a necessary shower during The House of Fear [1945].) Many fans of the Rathbone-Bruce films list Claw as their particular favorite but I think I like Death a bit more; I definitely think that Pursuit to Algiers (1945) is the weakest of the bunch. Mom had planned to spring for some buffalo wings at a nearby eatery but Kat was already in the kitchen planning the dinner menu—and since she had invited a couple of friends over we decided it would be best to continue hanging out downstairs so Mom and I made a quick McDonald’s run and returned with our piping-hot grub in time catch the last of Dressed to Kill (1946) and the entirety of The Asphalt Jungle (1950).

(Normally, Shreve père would be slightly put out by the choices in our viewing schedule since he loathes films in black-and-white—unless people are riding horses in them. But this situation was rectified by the convenience of my sister having given him a honkin’ big book on D-Day, which he devoured with relish whilst Rathbone and Bruce were skulking around London and Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffe were trying to pull off an against-all-odds jewel heist. He also missed most of The Man Who Came to Dinner [1942] on Christmas Day, but he did look up from his reading material to ask me if the same individual who directed Christmas in July [1940, which we watched on Christmas Eve] had a hand in Dinner, since they were both fairly frantic comedies. Baby steps…baby steps…I’ll make a classic film buff out of him yet.)

Gift wise, I got some very nice items—one of those trash cans that opens when you press on the pedal (Kat and the ‘rents have one at the house, and I remarked how nice it was—you can guess the rest), some new flip-flops (that will have to be returned because my mother bought the ones with spikes coming up through the soles) and some badly needed sweatpants. I also scored some first-rate DVD sets: The Lone Ranger: 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, The Jerry Lewis Show Collection, Mission: Impossible: The Final TV Season and The Three Stooges Collection: 1952-1954, Volume 7. While I knew that this last set included a pair of 3-D glasses to see the 3-D shorts Spooks! (1953) and Pardon My Backfire (1953), I was not aware that some of the shorts in this collection—I haven’t had an opportunity to open it yet, so I don’t know which ones—are in widescreen. This tickles me to no end; I can picture Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hanson and Sydney Pollack from that TCM segment on letterboxing going into detail about how pan-and-scan challenges the integrity of the eye-poke…

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The wonderful world of Facebook #32

Friday, December 25, 2009

"...and that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear wishes that for everyone who continues to encourage my behavior enjoy the Merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Year's!

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas #4

It Started With (Christmas) Eve

At 4:00pm this afternoon, I will be winging my way over to “the House of Kat” to spend Christmas Eve and Day with my family, so except for a few bits and pieces that I’ve already preprogrammed for the blog, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear will be pretty much be silent for the next day or two. Christmas Eve dinner will consist of a workout with my sister’s fondue set, cooking portions of steak, chicken and shrimp in hot oil and then switching to dunking various confectionaries in chocolate afterward for dessert. I’ll also be spending the night on a newly purchased Aerostar air mattress my mother has purchased for the occasion, which probably means that with my bad back I’ll be impersonating Charles Laughton by breakfast time. (“Sanctuary! Sanctuary!”)

I promised to bake a small batch of cookies to take over so I’ll be getting started on that soon (don’t think I don’t hear you snickering out there) but I wanted to take a little bit of time to post a few items of interest before I venture into the kitchen.

Shahn of sixmartinis and the seventh art fame asked me last year if I had or knew anyone who had access to a copy of a December 25, 1949 broadcast of The Hotpoint Holiday Hour which stars OTR’s beloved skinflint, Jack Benny, as Sheridan Whiteside in an adaptation of The Man Who Came to Dinner. I looked around the ‘Net, made some inquiries, rounded up the usual suspects, etc. but ultimately came up empty. This morning, some generous soul who chooses to remain anonymous has offered up a link to where the show can be downloaded; that person put the information in the comments section of my “It’s beginning to look like Christmas #3” post so I thought I’d repeat it here just in case anyone interested in the show doesn’t read the comments. (Again, many thanks to “Anonymous” for their generosity and a Merry Christmas/Happy New Year to them for the nice gift.)

Speaking of old-time radio and gifts, I ran across an old TDOY post from June 2007 in which I reviewed a couple of Texaco Star Theatre broadcasts—the ABC Radio comedy program starring “Mr. Television” himself, Milton Berle—from 1948. The late Arnold Stang was one of Theatre’s regulars (along with Pert Kelton and Jack Albertson), and he could be heard not only as one of the “interviewees” on the show’s “Town Hall Forum” segment (though on Theatre, the name had been changed to “The Texaco Court of Human Goodwill”) but as Berle’s bratty son in the “At Home with the Berles” sketches. So, as a Christmas gift to Stang fans and TDOY’s vast readership, here’s the program from November 24, 1948 (“A Salute to Thanksgiving”). Plus, as an added bonus, here's a program in keeping with the spirit of the season from December 22 of that same year. (These files are pretty big, so those of you with slow connections might want to grab a snack while downloading. I tried to set up an mp3 player to present them on the blog but, again, their size kept getting in the way.)

On a corrective note, Mark Evanier of newsfromme has a nice post up discussing the history of how Arnold Stang was picked to be the voice of “the indisputable leader of the gang.” He also points out that a few blogs (he doesn’t mention any names, but I’m guilty all the same) have erroneously credited the late performer with vocalizing “Shorty” in more Popeye cartoons than he actually did in their obits/tributes. According to Mark, there were three cartoons featuring the Shortster as the spinach-eating sailor’s sidekick—Happy Birthdaze (1943), The Marry-Go-Round (1943) and Moving Aweigh (1944)—and Stang only voiced Shorty in the latter of these (the other two featured Popeye himself, Jack Mercer, as Shorty’s voice). I could have sworn there were more cartoons with Shorty—it’s sort of like thinking Stuart Margolin was in every episode of The Rockford Files, even though he wasn’t—but Mr. E is the acknowledged authority on subjects like this, so I sit corrected.

Finally, I wanted to make certain to remind everyone (Stacia of She Blogged by Night was also kind enough to give everyone a heads up) that TCM will kick off its Sherlock Holmes salute on Christmas night beginning at 8pm—the cable channel is capitalizing on the release of the new film (directed by Guy Ritchie) which goes into general release that same day. A Facebook friend made the observation that the trailers for the Robert Downey-Jude Law flick made it look sort of like The Wild Wild West (I wasn’t certain if he meant the TV series—which could only be a good thing—or the 1999 theatrical film, which would make it very, very bad) but from reading Stephanie Zacharek’s review at it sounds like it might be worth a look-see. Nevertheless, I will be spending most of my Christmas getting my Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce fix; the only downside in the TCM festival is that they won’t be showing The Woman in Green (1945) in the lineup (fortunately it’s in the public domain but I’d still like a better copy) which means I will have to inform my mother that she cannot sell her MPI Sherlock Holmes box sets on eBay. (She’s serious about this, which is incredible because she’s a bigger Holmesian than I am. I once told Phil Schweier—who once invited me to attend a little get-together of "Baker Street Irregulars" in Savannah—that he should ask my mom instead.)

Anyway, here’s the TCM line-up:

December 25 – Friday

8:00 PM Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1939)

Sherlock Holmes uncovers a plot to murder the heir to a country estate. Cast: Richard Greene, Basil Rathbone, Wendy Barrie. Dir: Sidney Lanfield. BW-80 mins, TV-PG, CC

9:30 PM Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The (1939)

The famed sleuth tries to stop Professor Moriarty from stealing the Crown Jewels. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Ida Lupino. Dir: Alfred L. Werker. BW-82 mins, TV-G, CC

11:00 PM Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, The (1970)

The legendary sleuth becomes involved with a mysterious French woman while investigating the Loch Ness monster. Cast: Robert Stephens, Christopher Lee, Genevieve Page. Dir: Billy Wilder. C-125 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format

1:15 AM Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour (1931)

Sherlock Holmes tries to stop a string of crimes masterminded by Professor Moriarty. Cast: Arthur Wontner, Ian Fleming, Philip Hewland. Dir: Leslie S. Hiscott. BW-81 mins, TV-G

2:45 AM Hound Of The Baskervilles, The (1959)

Sherlock Holmes investigates the haunting of an isolated British estate by a murderous canine. Cast: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Andre Morell. Dir: Terence Fisher. C-87 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

4:15 AM Study in Terror, A (1965)

Sherlock Holmes tries to unmask Jack the Ripper. Cast: John Neville, Donald Houston, John Fraser. Dir: James Hill. C-95 mins, CC

December 26 – Saturday

6:00 AM Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)

Sherlock Holmes investigates acts of terrorism linked to Nazi radio broadcasts. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Ankers. Dir: John Rawlins. BW-66 mins, TV-PG

7:15 AM Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1942)

Sherlock Holmes fights to keep a new bombsite design from the Nazis. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Lionel Atwill. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-68 mins, TV-PG

8:30 AM Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)

Sherlock Holmes tries to recover a stolen document during World War II. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Henry Daniell. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-72 mins, TV-PG

9:45 AM Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)

Sherlock Holmes investigates murders at a rest home where Watson volunteers. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Hillary Brooke. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-68 mins, TV-PG, CC

11:00 AM Spider Woman, The (1944)

Sherlock Holmes fakes his own death to expose a killer. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Gale Sondergaard. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-62 mins, TV-PG

12:15 PM Scarlet Claw, The (1944)

Sherlock Holmes investigates a haunting in a Canadian village vital to the war effort. Cast: Sherlock Holmes, Nigel Bruce, Paul Cavanagh. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-74 mins, TV-PG, CC

1:30 PM Pearl of Death, The (1944)

Sherlock Holmes investigates the link between a stolen pearl and a series of murders. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Evelyn Akers. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-69 mins, TV-PG

2:45 PM Sherlock Holmes in the House of Fear (1945)

Sherlock Holmes investigates the murder of a group of seven club members. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Aubrey Mather. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-69 mins, TV-PG

4:00 PM Pursuit to Algiers (1945)

Sherlock Holmes tries to protect a foreign leader traveling on an ocean liner. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Marjorie Riordan. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-65 mins, TV-PG, CC

5:15 PM Sherlock Holmes in Terror by Night (1946)

Sherlock Holmes signs on to protect a priceless diamond from jewel thieves. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Alan Mowbray. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-63 mins, TV-PG

6:30 PM Sherlock Holmes in Dressed to Kill (1946)

Sherlock Holmes sets out to find why people are killing each other over a seemingly inexpensive music box. Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Patricia Morison. Dir: Roy William Neill. BW-71 mins, TV-PG

And on TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights at 12:00 midnight EST, they’ll be showing the 1922 version of Sherlock Holmes starring John Barrymore—a movie I am positively pumped about seeing. Well, those cookies aren’t just going to make themselves…but I wanted to make sure I wished everyone of you who continue to read and support Thrilling Days of Yesteryear the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of New Year’s! Feliz Navidad!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas #3

When worlds collide #78

Get down and Bogie

TCM’s Star of the Month tribute to Humphrey Bogart on the occasion of his 110th birthday (which will be celebrated this Friday) soldiers on with these movies on tap for today (as always, films missing from the dusty TDOY archives are highlighted in green):

6:00 AM Bogart: The Untold Story (1996)

Stephen Bogart hosts this one-hour special on the life and career of his legendary father, Humphrey Bogart. Cast: Host: Stephen Bogart C-46 mins, TV-G, CC

7:00 AM Action In The North Atlantic (1943)

A Merchant Marine crew fights off enemy attacks at the start of World War II. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Raymond Massey, Alan Hale. Dir: Lloyd Bacon. BW-127 mins, TV-G, CC

9:15 AM Sahara (1943)

An international platoon fights off Nazis in World War II Africa. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett, Lloyd Bridges. Dir: Zoltan Korda. BW-98 mins, TV-PG, CC

11:00 AM Passage to Marseille (1944)

Devil's Island escapees join up with the Allies during World War II. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Claude Rains, Michele Morgan. Dir: Michael Curtiz. BW-109 mins, TV-PG, CC

1:00 PM Conflict (1945)

A man murders his wife so he can be free to marry her sister. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Alexis Smith, Sydney Greenstreet. Dir: Curtis Bernhardt. BW-86 mins, TV-PG, CC

2:30 PM Dead Reckoning (1947)

A tough veteran sets out to solve his war buddy's murder. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lizabeth Scott, Morris Carnovsky. Dir: John Cromwell. BW-100 mins, TV-PG

4:15 PM Two Mrs. Carrolls, The (1947)

A woman slowly discovers that her artist husband is a deranged killer. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck, Alexis Smith. Dir: Peter Godfrey. BW-94 mins, TV-G, CC

6:00 PM Knock On Any Door (1949)

A crusading lawyer fights to save a juvenile delinquent charged with murder. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, John Derek, George Macready. Dir: Nicholas Ray. BW-100 mins, TV-PG

8:00 PM To Have And Have Not (1944)

A skipper-for-hire's romance with a beautiful drifter is complicated by his growing involvement with the French resistance. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan. Dir: Howard Hawks. BW-100 mins, TV-G, CC, DVS

10:00 PM Big Sleep, The (1946)

Private eye Philip Marlowe investigates a society girl's involvement in the murder of a pornographer. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Dorothy Malone. Dir: Howard Hawks. BW-114 mins, TV-PG, CC, DVS

12:00 AM Dark Passage (1947)

A man falsely accused of his wife's murder escapes to search for the real killer. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Agnes Moorehead. Dir: Delmer Daves. BW-106 mins, TV-PG, CC, DVS

2:00 AM Key Largo (1948)

A returning veteran tangles with a ruthless gangster during a hurricane. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall. Dir: John Huston. BW-101 mins, TV-G, CC, DVS

4:00 AM Bacall on Bogart (1988)

Lauren Bacall hosts this extraordinary documentary on her life on- and off-screen with her late husband, Humphrey Bogart. Cast: HOST: Lauren Bacall. Dir: David Heeley. C-84 mins, TV-G, CC

Philip Schweier and I have mentioned this on the blog a time or two in the past, but there’s a scene in Dead Reckoning (1947) where Bogie peruses a phone book looking for a number…pay close attention to some of the streets listed, like “Oglethorpe” and “Abercorn,” which are some of the major thoroughfares in Savannah, GA.

I’m way behind on my Bogart film watching and I have no one to blame but myself—I had planned to spend yesterday with a few films but instead settled for my yearly viewing of Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). My friend Faustina told me that she got the opportunity once to see IAWL on the big screen at Savannah’s Lucas Theatre and while I would love to have attended I think it was probably best that I didn’t. (I have a tendency to start bawling by the end of that movie, which sort of conflicts with my “macho,” tough-guy image.)

Update: Shazbot! TCM pulled a last-minute switch on me and ran Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) in place of Action in the North Atlantic (1943). This wouldn't have been so terrible except that Lucky Stars was supposed to run last week...and if I had known they switched it I could have recorded it this morning. (Shaking fist) Okay, win this round. But let me remind you: revenge is a dish best eaten cold...

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