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Author Topic: Turner Classic Movies
Timothy-
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Post Turner Classic Movies
on: August 24, 2018, 15:04
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I don't know why I haven't done this before now. I occasionally watch movies on TCM, and not just Casablanca. In the past couple of weeks I've watched several good movies, including Pillow Talk, Charade, and Run Silent, Run Deep (having previously seen The Enemy Below, which inspired the Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror") Today I just finished, and plan to discuss, The Comedy of Terrors starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, and Joyce Jameson, with Joe E. Brown and Rhubarb the cat (who really steals the show as Cleopatra).

Price is Waldo Trumbull (Lorre pronounces his name "Tremble", to Trumbull's annoyance), a respectable man of business (a funeral home that he married into) who's actually a total crook. Lorre is his assistant, escaped bank robber ("I never confessed. They merely proved it.") Felix Gillie. Karloff is his senile partner, Hinchley, who spends most of his time unaware of what's going on around him (including the fact that the "medicine" Price tries to give him occasionally is labeled "Poison" with a skull and crossbones). Rathbone is their landlord, Mr. Black, who's rather displeased that Hinchley & Trumbull is a year in arrears on their rent, and reluctantly threatens eviction.

And Jameson is Amaryllis Hinchley Trumbull, Waldo's despised wife. Hinchley is unhappy that she keeps intercepting his "medicine", and Waldo only values her for the once-thriving business she brought him. (Fair is fair; he figures she only married him because no one else would have her.) She also has fantasies of singing opera (and her loving Felix thinks "she sings like a nightingale"-- which would be true if nightingales shattered glass).

Price has to go foraging for business now that Black is seriously dunning him, so he locates a rich man to burke. Unfortunately, the widow leaves for Boston and beyond with all the furniture and money, leaving him unpaid. So he needs to go out with Felix again, and a further dunning note from Black (a widower) inspires his next selection. ("We'll kill two birds with one pillow.")

They find Black spouting Macbeth, and after a struggle with Felix he collapses, seemingly dead. His servant brings a doctor, who (despite being warned that Black is cataleptic) pronounces him dead after checking carefully. As Waldo and Felix prepare for the funeral, they find out that the doctor was a bit inaccurate when Black rises up and wonders where he is, what's going on, and what he's doing there. ("You're here because you're dead, Mr. Black." "The Hell I am.") They finally manage to shut him into his coffin (Waldo considers him the most uncooperative customer he's ever had).

The funeral is as amusing as one might expect, with Amaryllis singing (a little more accurately than she thinks) "He is not dead but sleepeth." The song ends as spectacularly as usual, with one listener thinking that if Black weren't dead that would kill him. (He isn't, and it doesn't.) They finally place him in a crypt, greatly annoying Waldo because they have to buy a new coffin after using the old one for only 13 years.

Of course, Black still isn't dead, and the result will be a wild night of action that leads to a number of seemingly dead people -- only one of whom (in accordance with the Movie Code) really is in the end. But I will leave that for those who see it.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Turner Classic Movies
on: September 1, 2018, 08:38
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TCM has a lengthy set of classic movies today. It starts at noon (EDT) with Double Indemnity, in which Fred MacMurray plays an insurance agent corrupted by a very bad woman. Playing for money as well as a beautiful woman, in the end he gets neither. (This isn't a spoiler; it's stated at the beginning, when MacMurray starts taping a confession and explanation of events for his boss. Most of the movie is really a big flashback.)

Next comes Them!, one of the better radiation monster movies of the 1950s. The giant ants, when they finally appear, are definitely no triumph of special effects, but there are some nice scenes. Some of the best are early, when the young girl who survived the attack hasn't told them yet. At one point they hear the ants signaling each other in the distance, and the girl suddenly rises from lying to sitting -- unnoticed by the investigators, who are looking the other way (whence the noise is coming). The title comes from her reaction when they expose her to (I think) some of the formic acid from ant stings -- screaming "Them! Them! Them!"

Next comes The Time Machine, a variation on Wells's novel. It includes some extra scenes, such as almost being trapped by the molten rock/metal/whatever from a nuclear attack (which is important because it explains a later scene in which the Morlocks lure the Eloi to their doom). The ending is very different, but still unknown in the sense that the machine and its driver disappear. The best scene may be the one in which the Time Traveller asks to see the Eloi's books, since they will tell him what he needs to know about their society (I don't think either culture or civilization is a suitable term here). One Eloi remembers where they have a few, and takes the Traveller to them. They turn to dust as he tries to read them -- and he realizes that they have indeed told him what he wanted to know about the Eloi.

Finally, at 8 p.m., they have the classic pirate swashbuckler Captain Blood. This starts with the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth (an actual event) in 1685, in which a doctor named Peter Blood is ensnared because he bandages the wounds of a rebel who came for help. He's initially sentenced to death in the Bloody Assizes, but this is commuted to slavery on Jamaica. Eventually he and some fellow slaves escape and seize an armed boat to use as a pirate ship. George MacDonald Fraser noted with approval in his Hollywood History of the World that they handled this well, even showing how they divided up the treasure they captured.

After various adventures involving an alliance from a treacherous French pirate (well, I imagine this could hardly have been a surprise, though pirate alliances against specific targets did work sometimes), Blood becomes involved in the higher politics of the West Indies, with most amusing results in the end. Happy endings and all that.

Brad-
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Turner Classic Movies
on: September 1, 2018, 09:48
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Everyone should see Double Indemnity at least once.

I think I remember seeing Them! as a kid. Those are the kind of fun old sci-fi movies that can never be duplicated. Perhaps they shouldn’t be.

FilmStruck has Time Machine available at the moment. I watched it not all that long ago so I’ll probably wait awhile before another viewing. Including extra scenes on TCM would definitely get me to watch it again. I don’t now if the FilmStruck version has that.

Captain Blood is an excellent movie as well. I’ve got that lying around here on DVD somewhere. If you can’t catch it on TCM, my JustWatch app shows it available for streaming on Amazon and VUDU as well as a couple of others. With Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, this is a great film and one of Flynn’s best. I did a review of it here.

Sounds like a great day to set yourself in front of TCM.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Turner Classic Movies
on: September 1, 2018, 10:15
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I only have so much time for movie-watching, so I'm watching Double Indemnity now. I saw the ending a while back, but haven't seen the whole movie in a long time.

Note that Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland also combined on The Adventures of Robin Hood, which I've also seen on TCM. Claude Rains is in there as well as the Prince John Lackland, with Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy of Gisborne. Her role fits in well with her role in Captain Blood.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Turner Classic Movies
on: September 3, 2018, 09:00
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Today TCM has Pillow Talk, which I mentioned previously. This is the first, and in my opinion best, of the Rock Hudson-Doris Day comedies, also featuring Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter. Hudson is Brad Allen a womanizing (of course) songwriter who shares a party line with Day's Jan Morrow, an interior decorator. She wants to use her phone for business, whereas Brad uses his for monkey business. Ritter is Jan's dipsomaniac maid Alma, who passes the time by listening in on Brad's phone calls. Randall is a millionaire who is Brad's college friend and also his best customer -- as well as trying to date Jan (who gently rebuffs him, perhaps because he's already been married 3 times).

So things go until one night when Brad, out on a date, finds out that Jan is the woman in the next booth. She's also very attractive and having problem with an abusive ride home (son of a friend). So Brad pretends to be Rex Stetson, a wealthy Texas rancher in town for some unspecified reason. It works, and they start dating, with Brad having some fun by discussing the matter over the phone with her since she has no idea that Brad and Rex are the same guy. Randall's character finds out about him and her feelings, and hires a private detective to find out about this Stetson chap. He finds out that Rex is Brad, and forces him to end a date abruptly to spend a weekend in Randall's isolated Connecticut place to write music.

Naturally, before going, Brad/Rex arranges to go with Jan. Randall learns this when he goes to Jan's apartment to find out why he still can't get hold of her. Finding out where she is, he wonders why the apartment manager didn't stop her, to which the latter points out that "It's not our place . . ." and Randall answers, "No, it's mine. And I helped him pack." He goes there to inform her of who Rex really is, showing up just after she found out for herself by trying a piece of music on the piano that she found with Brad's coat. It's his "You're My Inspiration" song that he pretends to write for each of his dates. (Alma is also quite familiar with it, as Brad will find out.)

Unfortunately for Brad, he's as hooked on the real Jan as she was on the fake Rex. This leads to some interesting results before (naturally) it finally all works out (with a bit of an assist from Alma).

Some aspects of the movie are quite interesting today. The whole plot line might be difficult to do today, and some scenes would be very problematic. For example, when Brad is hauling Jan from her room to his (and they live in separate buildings) after seeing what she did to mis-decorate his apartment, she complains to a police officer who naturally knows Brad and comments, "Can't say as I blame 'im, miss." There's also a minor subplot that starts when Brad, not wanting to be seen in the wrong place at the wrong time, ducks into a doctor's office without noticing that the doctor is an obstetrician. Would this be considered forward-thinking today, or a cruel mockery of transgendered men? Fortunately, we conservatives don't have to ask such questions.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Turner Classic Movies
on: September 11, 2018, 08:07
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TCM has the great Audrey Hepburn thriller Wait Until Dark today at 3:45 EDT. We've discussed this movie here and there already so there's not much to add about the story of a blind woman menaced by 3 men looking for a doll full of heroin. Stephen King in Danse Macabre considered Harry Roat from Scarsdale, played by Alan Arkin, the ultimate evocation of screen villainy. (Frank Gorshin would probably name Tommy Udo, the giggling psychopath in Kiss of Death played by Richard Widmark. He modeled his maniacal laugh as the Riddler on Udo's laugh as he murdered a woman in a wheelchair by shoving her down a flight of stairs.)

Brad-
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Turner Classic Movies
on: September 11, 2018, 10:07
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Okay. I have this movie available to me. You’ve convinced me I need to watch Wait Until Dark soon.

Timothy-
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Post Re: Turner Classic Movies
on: September 21, 2018, 10:15
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Well, tonight at 9:45 EDT, TCM has another good one, The Brass Bottle, with Tony Randall as an architect, Barbara Eden as his girlfriend, and Burl Ives as the djinn he rescues from the title artifact. Mr. Fakrash (the djinn) is extremely grateful to Randall's character and really wants to help him succeed, but has problems adjusting to modern life. There is, for example, the dinner party he arranges for Randall and Eden and her family, complete with dishes such as lamb's eyes cooked in honey. (Tasty, no doubt, but the mother complains that "they're staring at me.") The various misadventures involving Mr. Fakrash and his djinn girlfriend lead eventually to a hearing with a senator, and a remarkable appearance by Mr. Fakrash to demonstrate conclusively his abilities.

But, of course, djinns DON'T EXIST, so it doesn't matter how many people Mr. Fakrash convinces. Everyone else thinks they must all be crazy. In the end, Mr. Fakrash comes up with an interesting answer to the conundrum.

Brad-
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Turner Classic Movies
on: September 21, 2018, 11:22
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I'm expecting a full review. That sounds very interesting. I can't find The Brass Bottle available for streaming anywhere.

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