The plot of Alfred Hitchock’s Strangers on a Train hinges on the idea of two people swapping murders, a “criss-cross.” However, the whole “criss-cross” theme doesn’t just apply to the story, it’s also constantly echoed in the sets, costumes, and props.
Happy new year, everyone! With winter officially underway, it’s very tempting to spend every night at home watching movies with a cup of hot chocolate, and TCM has plenty of reasons to do just that.
Loretta Young is January’s Star of the Month, in honor of her 100th birthday, and will be spotlighted every Wednesday night this month. If you’re a fan of pre-codes, you’re bound to adore the first two Loretta Young nights. I tend to enjoy heist films, so I’m really looking forward to every Tuesday night this month being dedicated to movies about big robberies.
Another star who would be celebrating their 100th birthday this month is Danny Kaye. If you only know him from White Christmas, be sure to tune in on January 20th because TCM will be playing his movies for a full 24 hours, including an episode of The Danny Kaye Show and an interview he did on The Dick Cavett Show.
Posted in TCM
Tagged Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Danny Kaye, Dick Van Dyke, Elvis Presley, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Arnold, James Stewart, Jimmy Van Heusen, Laurel & Hardy, Lee Marvin, Loretta Young, Marion Davies, Paul Lukas, Shirley Temple
Happy November! Even though this isn’t one of my favorite months on TCM, it’s still a pretty busy month. First of all, Constance Bennett is the Star of the Month, which I’m pretty happy to see. Her movies will be shown every Tuesday night in November.
If you’re a fan of seeing how films compare to the novels they were based on, you are going to love this month. Every Monday and Wednesday night will be full of movies based on books and the adaptations will continue until prime time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I love the idea of this series, but I would have liked to have seen it done on Mondays and Thursdays instead, just because it’s kind of an avalanche of book adaptations during the first part of the week.
Picture from the Redford’s Facebook page.
In all the time that I’ve been going to classic film screenings, I have never seen a Hitchcock movie bring out a lame crowd. Even if the movie plays midnight, people are always eager to see one of Hitch’s movies on the big screen. So back in March when The Redford Theatre announced they would be showing The Birds, I knew there would be a good crowd for it. But when they added that Tippi Hedren herself would be making an appearance at all three of their showings, I knew we had better get our tickets early because it was going to be crazy.
The Redford pulled out all the stops to make this an unforgettable event. For their Saturday night screening, they arranged a VIP event before the movie where, for a higher ticket price, Tippi would give a talk about The Birds, everyone would be given an autographed picture, and you got the added bonus of having first pick of the seats in the theater. My mom and I are big fans of the movie, we decided to go all out for this and got tickets for the VIP event.
Paramount in the 50′s just wouldn’t have been the same without Billy Wilder. He made two of his most, in my opinion, under-appreciated movies at Paramount: 1953′s Stalag 17 and 1951′s Ace in the Hole. But in 1950, he released a movie that defined not only his career, but the entire film industry — Sunset Boulevard.
Vertigo is a movie I’ve seen plenty of times, but I can’t say that I ever really thought too deeply about the character of Judith Barton (played by Kim Novak). I always got too engrossed with the story of Scottie’s obsession with Madeline to think very much about who the woman behind the gray suit really is. But after reading The Testament of Judith Barton by Wendy Powers and Robin McLeod, I’ve got a whole new perspective on Vertigo.
In The Testament of Judith Barton, we not only get to see the events of Vertigo through Judith’s eyes, we also find out more about her background. We learn all about her childhood in Salina, Kansas as the tomboy daughter of a jeweler who passes away when she’s quite young. After graduating from Catholic school, Judith and her aspiring actress sister Maggie head out to California in search of brighter futures. However, once they get to California, Judith and Maggie go their separate ways. Maggie goes on to Los Angeles while Judith starts a new life in San Francisco. While working in a jewelery shop, Judith has her first encounter with Gavin Elster. When she suddenly finds herself in need of money, Elster comes to her with the idea of paying her to impersonate his wife Madeline.
When I started reading The Testament of Judith Barton, I was mostly looking forward to seeing the events of the movie from Judith’s perspective. But I was surprised by how wrapped up I became with the part that deals with Judith’s life in Kansas. That section paints a vivid portrait of a fairly simple midwestern girl; hardly the type of person you’d expect to get caught up with a man like Elster. But what makes the section that covers the events of the movie quite special is the fact that Powers and McLeod were able to get permission from Hitchcock’s estate to use excerpts from the Vertigo screenplay. Being able to integrate actual lines from the film helps The Testament of Judith Barton blend seamlessly into the story we already know so well.
If you’re a fan of Hitchcock, I absolutely recommend checking out The Testament of Judith Barton for yourself. It’s not often that you’re able to get such a fresh perspective on an old favorite movie. Please visit the book’s website for details on how to get a copy for yourself.
Disclosure: I was provided a free review copy of The Testament of Judith Barton.
Usually, when a dead body turns up in the woods, people aren’t lining up to admit being responsible for that person’s demise. But when Harry Worp is found dead in the woods, three people believe they are each responsible for killing him. First there’s Harry’s wife, Jennifer Rogers (Shirley MacLaine). She thinks she killed him by hitting him over the head with a bottle. Then there’s Captain Albert Wiles (Edmund Gwenn), who believes he accidentally shot Harry while hunting rabbits. And last, but certainly not least, there’s Ivy Gravely (Mildred Natwick), who hit Harry on the head with the heel of her hiking boot when he tried to assault her. But either way, none of them are exactly sad to see Harry go.
When local artist Sam Marlowe (John Forsythe) comes along to sketch the scenery, he stumbles upon Harry’s body and also finds Albert nearby. Albert explains what happened and Sam agrees to help him bury Harry. Before Sam knows it, he’s helped bury and exhume Harry multiple times and is wrapped up in trying to figure out exactly how Harry died.
The Trouble with Harry manages to be both an unusual Alfred Hitchcock film and still distinctly his style. If you go into The Trouble with Harry assuming that, because it’s Hitchcock, it will be a thriller like Vertigo or North by Northwest, you will be sorely disappointed. Instead, it’s actually a dark comedy. I wouldn’t call it one of Hitchcock’s best films, but I am fond of it since I have a somewhat dark sense of humor so I thought it was hilarious. The humor is very much Hitchcock’s style; much more so than Mr. and Mrs. Smith was. The cinematography is stunning; there are so many shots worthy of being on a postcard. And I love the stark contrast between the picturesque scenery and the morbid comedy. The Trouble with Harry is also noteworthy for being the film debuts of Shirley MacLaine and Jerry Mathers. It was also the first Hitchcock film to be scored by composer Bernard Hermann.
This was one of Hitchcock’s personal favorites of the movies he made and I can see why. However, I can also easily see why it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Dark comedy is one of those things that you either like or you don’t and I’ll admit the movie gets off to a little bit of a slow start. The Trouble with Harry wasn’t a big box office success when it was first released, but I have a feeling it might have found more of an audience if it had been made in the 70′s or 80′s instead.
This year’s For the Love of Film blogathon is raising money to make the three recently rediscovered reels of 1923′s The White Shadow available to stream on the National Film Preservation Foundation’s website for three months. Hitchcock served as an assistant director for The White Shadow, one of his first major jobs. If you would like to donate, simply click the button! For more from the For the Love of Film Blogathon, you can find other contributions at Ferdy on Films, The Self-Styled Siren, and This Island Rod.
How is it already June? But anyway, it’s shaping up to be a fun month on TCM. Every Thursday this month, TCM will be showing a night full of classic drive-in movies. So if you’re like me and love cheesy monster movies, you’re going to love this month. There’s also the return of Essentials, Jr. on Sunday nights at 8:00 PM, hosted this year by Bill Hader. The Star of the Month is the lovely Jean Simmons, who I’ve always found to be a bit on the under-appreciated side. With no further ado, let’s go on to my TCM picks for the month…
Posted in TCM
Tagged Alfred Hitchcock, Basil Rathbone, Billy Wilder, Cary Grant, Cyd Charisse, Dean Martin, Ernie Kovacs, Errol Flynn, Freddie Bartholomew, Jane Russell, Jean Simmons, Judy Garland, Tony Curtis, William Wellman
Another week, another ten movies! This week, I’ve got lots of musicals, some silents that have only gotten better with age, and movies with some of my favorite snappy lines. Now, onto the movies!
Posted in Lists, NaBloPoMo 2010
Tagged Alfred Hitchcock, Bette Davis, Billy Wilder, Busby Berkeley, Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, James Cagney, Joan Blondell, King Vidor, Rosalind Russell
Wow, I can’t believe we’re already up to number 30! This week is another week where if you don’t know anything at all about my style and only saw these ten movies, you’d get a pretty good idea of what my taste is. So, let’s get on with the list!
Posted in Lists
Tagged Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Busby Berkeley, Buster Keaton, Catherine Deneuve, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Jack Lemmon, Joel Grey, Liza Minnelli, Malcolm McDowell, Myrna Loy, Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Stanley Kubrick, William Powell