Saturday, August 27, 2022

TCM Spotlight: Radio Days on Mondays in September 2022

Harold Peary as the
Great Gildersleeve.
The Golden Age of Radio was roughly concurrent with the Golden Age of Hollywood. And there was a good deal of crossover between the media of radio and film. Radio show stars, such as George Burns, Gracie Allen, and Jack Benny appeared in movies. Movie stars, such as Agnes Moorehead and Lionel Barrymore, starred on radio shows. Such radio shows as Lux Radio Theatre, adapted movies as radio plays. In turn, such movies as The Great Gildersleeve (1942) and A Date with Judy (1948), were based on radio shows. It should then come as no surprise that TCM Spotlight is on radio next month on Turner Classic Movies, with movies dealing with radio in some way shape or form airing each Monday.

TCM Spotlight: Radio Days deals with a wide array of movies. Some, such as The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936) features radio show stars. Others, such as The Crime Doctor (1943) and I Love a Mystery (1945), are based on radio shows. Radio plays a prominent role in yet other movies being shown during TCM Spotlight: Radio Days, such as A Christmas Story (1983) and The Hucksters (1947).

My own picks for the movies showing next month include all of the films airing on September 12, all of which are based on radio shows. Among my other picks are You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939), The Road to Singapore (1940), and I Dood It (1943), all of which air on September 5. On September 19 I suggest viewers check out the classics A Christmas Story and A Face in the Crowd (1957). On September 26, The Great Man is worth watching for its historical interest alone (it was inspired by Arthur Godfrey). For the same reason, viewers might want to check out American Hot Wax (1978), based on the life of deejay Alan Freed.

Below is the schedule for TCM Spotlight: Radio Days. All times are Central (I'll have the schedule for Monday, September 26 once it appears on TCM's daily and weekly schedule).

Monday, September 5:
7:00 PM The Big Broadcast of 1937 (1936)
9:00 PM It's in the Bag! (1945)
10:45 PM You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939)

Tuesday, September 6:
12:15 PM The Road to Singapore (1940)
2:00 AM The Vagabond Lover (1929)
3:15 AM The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
5:15 AM I Dood It (1943)

Monday, September 12:
7:00 PM: Crime Doctor (1943)
8:15 PM: I Love a Mystery (1945)
9:45 PM Look Who's Laughing (1941)
11:15 PM The Great Gildersleeve (1942)

Tuesday, September 13:
12:30 AM The Whistler (1944)
1:45 AM A Date with Judy (1948)
3:45 AM Pot O' Gold (1941)

Monday, September 19:
7:00 PM Radio Days (1987)
9:00 PM A Christmas Story (1983)
10:45 PM The Hucksters (1947)

Tuesday, September 20:
1:00 AM A Face in the Crowd (1957)
3:15 AM The Next Voice You Hear (1950)

Monday, September 26:
The Great Man (1957)
My Dream Is Yours (1949)
Whistling in the Dark (1941)
American Hot Wax (1978)
Professional Sweetheart (1933)
Hollywood Party (1934)

Friday, August 26, 2022

The Idea of America on Turner Classic Movies Fridays in September

In the movie Twenty Bucks (1993), the character Jack Holiday (George Morfogen) discussed how he bought a pack of gum every day while working on a boat in order to immigrate to the United States. He had seen a movie starring Richard Widmark in which Mr. Widmark chewed a lot of gum, and he thought that if he chewed enough gum he would emerge from the boat a full-fledged American. The theme of The Idea of America is how various immigrants' images of the United States were shaped by the movies they saw while they were young. The Idea of America airs on Friday, September 9 2022 on TCM and the following two Fridays.

For each movie host Ben Mankiewicz is joined by someone who immigrated to the United States, each of who will discuss a particular movie and how it shaped their idea of the country before they immigrated, and how that image compares to the reality they have experienced since they immigrated. The Idea of America was developed by Hemrami Vyas, who is the assistant manager of programming for TCM. She is also one of the guests and will introduce To Hell and Back (1955) with Ben Mankiewicz. She is Indian and descent and immigrated to the United States from Nairobi, Kenya.

Vera Petrovic will introduce Holiday Affair (1949). She was born in Sabac, Yugoslavia and earned her law degree in Belgrade before moving to the U.S. with her husband. Ali Esefam will introduce Cool Hand Luke (1967). She grew up in in São Paulo, Brazil where she studied architecture and urbanism. She is currently the vice president of planning and design at a public relations firm that specializes in community outreach. Gabriel Britton will introduce Splendor in the Grass (1961). He immigrated from Marrakesh, Morocco and is currently Professor Emeritus of environmental engineering at the University of Florida. Ash Nega will introduce The Champ (1979). He immigrated from Ethiopia and operates Desta Ethiopian Kitchen in Atlanta, Georgia. Desta Ethiopian Kitchen has two locations. Crystal Lee will introduce Love Story (1970). She immigrated from Seoul, South Korea. She is an actress who also practises law. Ted Ayllón will introduce Higher and Higher (1943). He immigrated from Bolivia and holds a PhD in psychology. He taught at Wesleyan University for 30 years. Abdi Iftin will introduce Badlands (1973). He immigrated from Mogadishu, Somalia. He is the author of the memoir Call Me American. Sushma Barakoti will introduce To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

Below is the schedule for The Idea of America on TCM. All times are Central.

Friday, September 9
7:00 PM To Hell and Back (1955)
9:00 PM Holiday Affair (1949)
10:45 PM Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Friday, September 16
7:00 PM Splendor in the Grass (1961)
9:30 PM The Champ (1979)
11:45 PM Love Story (1970)

Friday, September 22
7:00 PM Higher and Higher (1943)
9:00 PM Badlands (1973)
11:00 PM To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Noir Alley Returns in September 2022

Like most Turner Classic Movies fans, I love Summer Under the Stars. The only drawback to Summer Under the Stars is that Noir Alley is pre-empted for the entirety of the month of August. Fortunately, it returns in September, so fans can once more enter the shadows to enjoy their Saturday night or Sunday morning dose of film noir.

Noir Alley
returns on September 3 2022 with Hit and Run (1957), which features Cleo Moore in her final film appearance and Vince Edward, who would play Ben Casey in the TV show of the same name in a few years. Hit and Run centres on an older man (Hugo Haas) who marry a younger showgirl with disastrous results.

On September 10 2022 Obsession (1949) airs on Noir Alley. It is a British thriller in which a well-to-do psychiatrist (Robert Newton) decides to kill his cheating wife. It was the first of two films directed by Edward Dmytryk in the United Kingdom after he had been cited for contempt of Congress (along with the rest of the Hollywood Ten) for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The Naked Street (1955) airs on September 17 2022 (1955). The film stars Farley Granger as Nicky, a young man saved from the electric chair by his pregnant girlfriend's racketeer brother. In addition to Farley Granger, the movie also stars Anthony Quinn, Anne Bancroft, and Peter Graves.

On September 24 2022 Noir Alley will be showing I Love Trouble (1948). I Love Trouble is based on the novel The Double Take by Roy Huggins, which would also provide the inspiration for the classic TV show 77 Sunset Strip. In the film Franchot Tone plays detective Stuart Bailey (played by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. on 77 Sunset Strip), who his hired to find the missing wife of a prominent politician.

Anyway, as much as I love Summer Under the Stars, I think I can safely speak for all Noir Alley fans when I say we are eager for its return.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Virginia Patton Passes On

Virginia Patton, best known for playing Ruth Dakin Bailey in the classic It's a Wonderful Life (1946), died on August 18 2022 at the age of 97.

Virginia Patton was born  on June 25 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio. Her family moved to Portland, Oregon when she was still a baby. Her uncle was General George S. Patton. She graduated from Jefferson High School in Portland and then attended the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

Virginia Patton made her film debut in an uncredited, bit part in Thank Your Lucky Stars in 1943. In the next few years she appeared in the films Old Acquaintance (1943), Janie (1944), The Last Ride (1944), Hollywood Canteen (1944), The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945), and Canyon Passage (1946). While at USC she appeared in a play directed by William C. DeMille, the brother of director Cecil B. DeMille.

Miss Patton read for Frank Capra when she was casting It's a Wonderful Life. He cast her in the role of Rath Dakin Bailey, the new bride of Harry Bailey (Todd Karns), the brother of protagonist George Bailey (James Stewart), and signed her to a contract. She was the last surviving adult cast member of the film (only some of the child actors remain). After appearing in It's a Wonderful Life, Virginia Patton would only appear in a few more movies. She appeared in The Burning Cross (1947), A Double Life (1947), Black Eagle (1948), and The Lucky Stiff (1949).

In 1949 she married automotive executive Cruse W. Moss in 1949. She retired from acting and move to Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was president and director of Patton Corp., an investment and real estate holding company. She was a docent at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art  University of Michigan’s Museum of Art.

Virginia Patton only appears for a few minutes in It's a Wonderful Life, but she leaves a lasting impression. She played Ruth Dakin Bailey perfectly. She was the female lead in The Burning Cross (1947), in which she played the wife of a World War II veteran who becomes involved with the Ku Klux Klan, and she also gave a good performance. Virginia Patton was a wonderful actress.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Luis Guzmán Is Ideal as Gomez Addams

A few days ago the first photos from the upcoming streaming TV series Wednesday, based on Charles Addams's classic single panel cartoon The Addams Family were released. Almost immediately on social media sites there were unfavourable comparisons of Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams to John Astin (in the classic TV show) and Raul Julia (in the feature films of the Nineties). Fortunately, a number of Addams Family fans defended Mr. Guzmán. I am one of those people who is very happy with him being cast as Gomez.

As portrayed in Charles Addams's cartoons, Gomez Addams was short, squat, and not conventionally handsome. Even after the classic TV series debuted in 1964, in the cartoons Gomez continued to be short and squat. Of course, this was a sharp contrast to the TV series, on which Gomez as portrayed by John Astin was above average in height, slender, and handsome. Here it must be pointed out that, despite the success of the TV series, Gomez's appearance was not changed in Charles Addams's cartoons. He remained short and tubby and not what one would usually consider handsome.

The movies of the Nineties (The Addams Family and Addams Family Values) would follow the TV show's example in the casting of Gomez. Raul Julia was tall, slender, and handsome. While both John Astin and Raul Julia did superb jobs of playing Gomez--he remains an iconic character with good reason, their appearances did differ from Gomez as portrayed in Charles Addams's cartoons.

Now I can understand why those familiar with only the TV show or the movies might not be pleased with the casting of Luis Guzmán as Gomez. That having been said, for those of us who are huge fans of the cartoons, his casting is ideal. The fact is that Luis Guzmán looks much more like Gomez in the cartoons than either John Astin or Raul Julia. He is below average in height. He has a stout build. And  I personally think Mr. Guzmán's face looks much more like Gomez as he was portrayed in the cartoons.

Miles Millar, co-creator of the TV series Wednesday, has said of the show, "It's not trying to be the movies or the '60s TV show." Given this, it makes perfect sense that they would cast as actor who looks more like Gomez in Charles Addams's original cartoons. As for myself, I have always admired Mr. Guzmán's work and I think he will do a fantastic job as Gomez Addams. I honestly don't think they could have cast the role any better.