Happy May, everyone! April was a rather unusual month for TCM, but it’s back to the usual schedule for May. June Allyson is May’s Star of the Month and will be featured every Wednesday night. Friday Night Spotlight returns with a look at Australian cinema hosted by Jacki Weaver. Since I haven’t seen many Australian films, I look forward to having the chance to see more. For Memorial Day weekend, TCM will be having their annual 72-hour marathon of war films. May’s Guest Programmer is none other than Rev. Mother Dolores Hart, who will be showcasing a few of her favorite movies on May 27th.
When nightclub singer Amy Jolly (Marlene Dietrich) arrives in Morocco, she’s already lived and loved a lot and it’s left her exhausted. The last thing she wants is to fall in love and be hurt yet again. But when she spots Legionnaire Tom Brown (Gary Cooper) in the audience during one of her performances, she can’t resist him. She gives him a key to her place and he comes to visit her. As they get to know each other, Amy really takes a liking to Tom, but is still hesitant to get too involved.
Before meeting Amy, Tom had a reputation for being quite the ladies man. He had even been carrying on an affair with his superior officer Caesare’s (Ullrich Haupt) wife, but broke things off with her to be with Amy. However, Caesare knew what had been going on and sends Tom on a mission that could very well cost him his life.
Before Tom leaves on his mission, he overhears Amy rejecting a proposal from Kennington La Bessiere (Adolphe Menjou). Kennington is a rich man and can offer Amy so many things that Tom simply cannot. Even though he loves Amy, he believes she would be better off with Kennington and decides to take himself out of the picture. While he is gone, Amy agrees to marry Kennington. But when she finds out Tom is back in town, reportedly injured, she can’t help but rush to be with him. Recognizing who Amy really loves and wanting her to be happy, Kennington even gives her a ride to see him.
The critical consensus for Morocco seems to be that it’s one of the best movies Josef von Sternberg made with Marlene Dietrich. Although I do like Morocco, it’s not one of my personal favorite Dietrich movies. As far as the von Sternberg collaborations go, I prefer The Blue Angel and Blonde Venus. Morocco just leaves me a little bit cold. Dietrich herself is divine; she has such a commanding screen presence and she can work a tuxedo like nobody else. The exotic locale is perfect for von Sternberg’s style. The story just doesn’t pull me all the way in, though.
During World War I, Lieutenant Frederic Henry (Gary Cooper) serves the Italian Army as an ambulance driver and in his free time, enjoys going out drinking with Major Rinaldi (Adolphe Menjou). When one of their nights on the town is interrupted by an air raid, Frederic takes shelter alongside nurse Catherine Barkley (Helen Hayes). However, their first meeting is less than ideal for other reasons — he mistakes her for a prostitute he had been talking to earlier.
But Frederic gets another chance to make an impression on Catherine when Rinaldi arranges a double date for them and Catherine and her friend Helen (Mary Philips). Rinaldi is in love with Catherine and had intended Helen to be Frederic’s date, but Frederic and Catherine fall madly in love with each other that night and start having an affair. Army regulations forbid their romance, but rules suddenly don’t seem to mean much to Frederic. Before he is sent off to the front lines, he insists on stopping to say goodbye to Catherine. Rinaldi, still bitter that Catherine prefers Frederic over him, sees to it that Catherine is transferred to Milan to keep her away from him.
As fate would have it, Frederic is injured and is taken to Catherine’s new hospital. Their feelings for each other are still as strong as ever and they are secretly married in Frederic’s hospital room. Frederic spends the next three months recuperating and he and Catherine couldn’t be happier together. But when he has to go back to the war, there’s one thing he doesn’t know — Catherine is pregnant. She leaves the hospital for Switzerland to wait for him and even though they write to each other regularly, Rinaldi sees to it that neither of them receive their letters.
When Frederic becomes concerned over Catherine’s lack of letters, he deserts the Army to find her. He eventually manages to find Helen, who tells him about the baby, but she’s so angry about what he’s done to Catherine that she refuses to tell him where she is. Now even more desperate to find her, he takes out an ad in the newspaper looking for her, which gets Rinaldi’s attention. Finally realizing just how much Frederic loves Catherine, he finally tells him where she is. But when he finally makes his way to her, she’s not in good health.
When people talk about pre-codes, A Farewell to Arms isn’t one that comes up very often and I have no idea why that is. In terms of shocking content, A Farewell to Arms has got plenty of stuff to make your jaw drop: rape, forbidden love, very frank discussions of relationships, and of course, the scene with the prostitute early in the movie.
But A Farewell to Arms has a lot more to offer than risqué scenes. Frank Borzage offers up some top-notch direction and Charles Lang completely deserved the Academy Award he won for his beautiful cinematography. I absolutely loved Gary Cooper’s performance as Fredric and Adolphe Menjou is an excellent supporting player. As for Helen Hayes, I haven’t seen very many of her movies, but her work here made me want to see more of her. I’ve never read A Farewell to Arms so I can’t critique it as an adaptation, but I do know Hemingway didn’t care for the movie. All I can do is take the movie for what it is and I very much enjoyed it, much more than I expected to.
When Melody Jones (Gary Cooper) and his friend George Fury (William Demarest) ride into the town of Payneville, Melody is confused and kind of amused when everyone in town seems to be afraid of him. Melody’s a completely harmless guy, so imagine his surprise when Cherry de Longpre (Loretta Young) informs him there’s a gun pointed at him. She takes Melody and George back to her ranch and along the way, she explains that everyone Payneville thinks Melody is notorious outlaw Monte Jarrad (Dan Duryea). Melody and Monte really don’t look alike, but they do have the same initials and share some of the vague characteristics listed on Motne’s wanted poster.
Cherry urges Melody and George to get out of Payneville right away, and naturally, they take her advice. But once they get a little bit out of town, they realize their departure would be a perfect diversion for the real criminal to escape, so they go back to Cherry’s ranch to see what’s going on. It turns out Cherry and Monte had been friends when they were children, and even though she doesn’t like what he’s turned into, she still feels obligated to take care of him and has been hiding him in her barn. To protect Melody, Cherry lets him stay at her ranch for the night.
The next day, Cherry convinces Melody to take Monte’s saddle so he can distract the posse chasing Monte and Monte can get away. But when Melody goes to town posing as Monte, Melody gets into some trouble and has to be saved by Cherry. But there’s one thing that Monte left behind and that’s some of the money he stole. Even more problems arise for Melody and Cherry when other people come to claim it — including Monte himself.
I really wasn’t a big fan of Along Came Jones. It was nice to see Gary Cooper having some fun with the Western genre, but it isn’t a particularly well written movie. The basic premise of the movie had potential, but it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. If you’re looking for a fun Western, definitely go with something like Destry Rides Again or Cat Ballou instead.
How is it already time for another round of Summer Under the Stars?! As usual, TCM has done a great job of coming up with a nice blend of stars who are no strangers to the SUTS schedule and stars who have never been featured before. The more I look at the schedule, the more excited I get to start my Blogging Under the Stars marathon.
Some of the days I’m most looking forward to are: Myrna Loy (August 2), Marilyn Monroe (August 4), Toshiro Mifune (August 9), Ginger Rogers (August 12), James Cagney (August 14), Lillian Gish (August 15), Jack Lemmon (August 22), Gene Kelly (August 23), Kay Francis (August 21), and Warren William (August 30). I have seen woefully few Akira Kurosawa films, so I am really looking forward to Toshiro Mifune’s day. As a fan of silents and pre-codes, I was thrilled to see Lillian Gish, Kay Francis, and Warren William got spots on this year’s line-up. Lately, I’ve been really getting into Tyrone Power movies, so I’m glad to see he got a day this year. And since I’ve always wanted to see more Jeanette MacDonald movies, I’ll definitely be tuning in a lot for her day.
The complete Summer Under the Stars schedule is available to be download here.
Happy July, everyone! Hard to believe that it’s already almost time for Summer Under the Stars, but TCM has lots of fun stuff going on in July to keep us busy until then. Leslie Howard is the Star of the Month and his movies will be on every Tuesday night this month. Every Monday in July will be dedicated to showing 24 hours of adventure movies. Spike Lee is this month’s guest programmer and has chosen some excellent movies for the night of July 5th. There are a lot of good things to mention, so let’s get to it:
Even though I’m broke and can’t afford to actually bid on anything in today’s auction, there’s so much amazing stuff up for sale today that I can’t resist trying to follow the auction as best I can. So I figured I’d try my hand at live blogging and cover the auction the best I can as it happens. I’m not going to cover every single item up for sale, but I’ll try to keep you updated about some of the more noteworthy items. So stay tuned, sit back, relax, and live vicariously through other people who can afford to spend insane amounts of money on movie memorabilia. And I’m just putting it out there right now: I would not be even remotely surprised if Hugh Hefner buys Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven Year Itch. A million dollar absentee bid has already been placed on it, so it will definitely be sold for at least that much today.
If you want to follow along with the auction live, just go here, click on “Live Bidding”, then click the option to just watch the auction. There is a live video stream, but no audio.
Note – The selling prices I list here don’t include the buyer’s premium. If you see articles about Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz test costume selling for more than a million, that source factored in the buyer’s premium.
3:12 PM – The first lot, a 1915 35mm Bell and Howell camera just sold for $32,500!
3:16 PM – Rudolph Valentino’s matador suit from Blood and Sand just went for $210,000.
3:19 PM – Mary Pickford’s headpiece from Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall went for $3,250.
3: 21 PM- Francis X. Bushman’s charioteer helmet from 1925′s Ben Hur sold for $30,000!
3:26 PM – Harold Lloyd’s suit and hat went for $4,000!
3:34 PM – Mary Pickford’s gown from The Taming of the Shrew sold for $17,000.
3:36 PM – Lots 17 and 18, both Douglas Fairbanks costumes from The Taming of the Shrew sold for $20,000 and lot 18 didn’t sell.
3:38 PM – One of Charlie Chaplin’s infamous hats went for $110,000!
3:40 PM – A Model T used by Laurel and Hardy sold for $32,500 and a pair of their suits went for $16,000.
3:42 PM – Carole Lombard’s gown from No Man of Her Own sold for $11,000.
3:47 PM – Claudette Colbert’s Cleopatra gown went for $40,000.
3:52 PM – Greta Garbo’s gown from Anna Karenina also sold for $40,000!
3:53 PM – Harpo Marx’s hat and wig went for $45,000!
4:10 PM – Lots 42, 43, and 44 are the paintings commissioned by Marion Davies and respectively went for $10,000, $11,000, and $17,000. These really got the bidders going.
4:17 PM – W.C. Fields’ joke box sold for $35,000.
4:39 PM – Norma Shearer’s purple gown from Romeo and Juliet went for $20,000.
5:04 PM – Now we’re into stuff from The Good Earth and people went nuts for some of the furniture! The pair of chairs went for $20,000, the opium bed for $20,000, two Paul Muni robes for $4,000 each, Luise Rainer’s shirt for $2,000, the lot of stands and other furniture for $3,500, and Luise Rainer’s jacket for $3,000.
5:13 PM – A gown worn by Norma Shearer in Marie Antoinette and Lucille Ball in Du Barry was a Lady sold for $11,000.
5:44 PM – Oh, now we’re into a busy bunch of lots! First up was Marlene Dietrich’s outfit from “The Boys in the Backroom” number in Destry Rides Again, which went for $8,000, one of Judy Garland’s test costumes from The Wizard of Oz went for $910,000, a test pair of the ruby slippers sold for $510,000, an extra’s jacket from the Emerald City scenes of the Wizard of Oz sold for $22,500, Clark Gable’s dressing robe from the production of Gone With the Wind went for $10,000, and Basil Rathbone’s famous Sherlock Holmes caped overcoat sold for $50,000!
5:54 PM – Vivien Leigh’s suit from Waterloo Bridge sold for $16,000.
6:09 PM – Gary Cooper’s military uniform from Sergeant York went for $55,000.
6:16 PM – A couple of costumes worn by James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, the satin jockey shirt went for $27,500 and the clown outfit sold for $15,000.
6:19 PM – Not so fast, Louis! A suit worn by Claude Rains in Casablanca sold for $55,000!
6:53 PM – Took a dinner break and missed another busy bunch of lots! Elizabeth Taylor’s riding outfit from National Velvet went for $60,000, Judy Garland’s “Under the Bamboo Tree” dress from Meet Me in St. Louis sold for $16,000, Judy’s dress from the snowman building scene in Meet Me in St. Louis went for $10,000, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra’s sailor suits from Anchors Aweigh went for $27,500 and $15,000 respectively.
7:00 PM – $22,500 for Joan Crawford’s waitress uniform from Mildred Pierce and $5,000 for Ann Blyth’s Mildred Pierce suit.
7:05 PM – Edmund Gwenn’s Santa suit from Miracle on 34th Street just sold for $22,500.
8:12 PM – The gold lame dress worn by Ginger Rogers in The Barkleys of Broadway went for $8,000.
8:51 PM – The chiffon robe worn by Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire sold for $18,000. Then it went into a bunch of items from An American in Paris with Leslie Caron’s peacock dress from the fantasy ballet number for $15,000, Nina Foch’s white halter gown from a party scene for $3,000, and a showgirl costume from the Stairway to Paradise number for $1,100.
9:05 PM – We have reached the Singin’ in the Rain part of the auction. First were the green and white checked suits worn by Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly, $8,000 and $14,000 respectively. Jean Hagen’s Marie Antoinette-esque dress sold for $5,500 and Gene Kelly’s period costume went for $9,000. Debbie’s green and white leaf print dress went for $15,000, Gene Kelly’s jacket from the Broadway Melody Ballet number went for $6,500, Jean Hagen’s black and white fur coat went for $6,000, Donald O’Connor’s “Good Morning” suit didn’t sell, Cyd Charisse’s white Broadway Melody Ballet outfit for $7,000, and Debbie’s “Good Morning” dress went for $27,500. A pink dress worn by Gwen Carter sold for $3,750, and a bunch of costumes from the “Beautiful Girl” montage brought $5,500.
9:22 PM – Now we’re getting into some of the Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn-related items. First up is Marilyn’s red “Two Little Girls from Little Rock” dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which brought $1.2 million! Then came the feathered hat worn by Jane Russell when she impersonates Loreli Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, that sold for $4,250. Lauren Bacall’s wedding dress from How to Marry a Millionaire went for $8,000 and the car used by Marilyn and Cary Grant in Monkey Business sold for $210,000.
9:48 PM – A lot of two safari outfits worn by Grace Kelly in Mogambo sold for $47,500. A Winchester rifle used by Clark Gable in Mogambo brought in $15,000.
10:00 PM – A couple more from Marilyn Monroe. The gold dress from River of No Return went for $510,000 and her costume from the “Heat Wave” number in There’s No Business Like Show Business brought in $500,000!
10:52 PM – After a little break, we’re back with the dress everyone’s been waiting for — the infamous Marilyn Monroe white subway dress from The Seven Year Itch. I fully expected bidding to be out of control for this one and I wasn’t disappointed. It brought in an astonishing $4.6 million!
11:03 PM – Now we’ve got a couple from To Catch a Thief. A coat worn by Cary Grant brought in $15,000 and an outfit worn by Grace Kelly earned a jaw dropping $450,000!
11:41 PM – A couple of dresses worn by Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember brought in $6,000 and $11,000.
12:17 AM – One of Lana Turner’s dresses from Peyton Place sold for $4,250.
12:22 AM – Lot number 407 is rather unique because it includes things worn by both Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth in Pal Joey. It went for $6,500.
12:29 AM – Leslie Caron’s iconic plaid schoolgirl outfit from Gigi went for $65,000.
12:40 AM – Charlton Heston’s tunic and cape from Ben Hur could have been yours for the low, low price of $320,000!
1:32 AM – Marlon Brando’s naval outfit from Mutiny on the Bounty just brought in $90,000!
2:12 AM – Elizabeth Taylor’s famous headdress from Cleopatra went for $100,000 and Richard Burton’s tunic, cape, and sword brought in $85,000.
Oh, who cares what time it is anymore? Yes, I’m still going! Aren’t these people tired and broke yet?! Janet Leigh’s yellow fringed dress from Bye Bye Birdie fetched $3,750 and Bette Davis’ blood stained dress from Hush, Hush…Sweet Charlotte sold for $11,000.
Another big item to watch tonight was Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot dress from My Fair Lady. I fully expected it to exceed the $200,000-$300,000 and it sure did. It went up to $3.7 million!
I would say that the hills are alive with the sound of music, but at this time of night, I’m pretty sure that’s a noise ordinance violation. Julie Andrews’ guitar went for $140,000, her jumper from the “Do Re Mi” number for $550,000, her turquoise and green dress for $45,000, the peasant dress went for $42,500, and a pair of the Trapp children’s outfits sold for $35,000.
And at long last we have reached the Barbara Streisand part of the auction. First from Funny Girl is her costume from “I’d Rather Be Blue” for $65,000, a lot of the other roller skating costumes for $2,500, the black velvet dress from “My Man” for $16,000, a bunch of stuff worn by the Ziegfeld girls in the “His Love Makes Me Beautiful” number for $7,500, Anne Francis’ silk dress for $1,800, and Kay Medford’s beaded shawl for $1,400.
A jacket worn by Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid brought $8,500 and a dress worn by Katharine Ross went for $16,000.
And back to Streisand. The purple Hello, Dolly dress went for $55,000 and the gold dress for $100,000. Surprised the gold dress went for that little, that’s how much it cost to make that dress back in the day.
You’ll be fascinated to know that a shirt worn in the cinematic masterpiece known as Grease 2 sold for $475.
We have finally made it to the final segment of posters/portraits! The title cards for Blind Husbands fetched $2,000, the lot of three Gloria Swanson title/lobby cards sold for $1,200, the portrait of Gloria Swanson went for $8,500, the lot of two Mabel Normand lobby cards for $800, the pair of silent title/lobby cards for $1,600, the lobby card for Lon Chaney’s The Penalty for $1,700, and the lobby card for Chaplin’s The Idle Class for $1,600. The portrait of Jean Harlow went for $11,000!
Now it’s high time I called it a night! Good night everybody!
December can only mean one thing: Christmas movies galore! Up this month are plenty of traditional Christmas classics along with a few off-beat ones that will certainly please fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In addition to that, every Thursday in December, TCM will be saluting living legend Mickey Rooney by playing 24 hours of his movies, including every Andy Hardy movie and all his pairings with Judy Garland. Speaking of living legends, a new episode of Private Screenings will be premiering this month featuring Liza Minnelli. To celebrate, TCM will be taking two nights to showcase some of the best movies by Liza, Judy, and Vincente. This month’s guest programmer is Eli Wallach, who has made some very stellar choices. Fans of John Wayne will be glad to hear that on December 22, there will be 24 hours of nothing but John Wayne. When New Year’s Eve rolls around, why not bid 2010 adieu with Cary Grant movies all day and Marx Brothers movies all night? And to top it all off, the final two installments of the Moguls and Movie Stars series air this month on the first two Mondays and Wednesdays.
Tom Chambers (Fredric March) and George Curtis (Gary Cooper) are a couple of artistic best friends. Tom is a playwright and George is a painter. They may not be rich, but they’re happy living together in their dingy apartment. But all that changes when they meet Gilda Farrell (Miriam Hopkins), an artist working for an advertising agency, on a train trip. She immediately hits it off with both of them and the duo becomes a trio. However, Tom and George both fall in love with Gilda and Gilda loves both of them back. When Tom and George realize this, they agree to try to forget about Gilda, but that doesn’t last long. The thing is, Gilda can’t decide who she loves more so she suggests that she move in with both of them so she can make up her mind.
When Gilda moves in, she helps the guys out by criticizing their work and inspiring them to be more creative. She takes one of Tom’s plays and gives it to a producer, who agrees to produce it in London. While in London, just as Tom is dictating a letter to Gilda and George about how much he’s looking forward to seeing them again, he gets word that Gilda has chosen George over him. Even though Tom is heartbroken, his play goes on to become a huge success. One night, he runs into Gilda’s former employer and wannabe lover Max Plunkett (Edward Everett Horton), who tells Tom that George has become a successful painter. Tom goes to Paris to see George, only to find he has moved to a swanky penthouse and that George is out-of-town working on a portrait. He’s told he can talk to George’s secretary, who turns out to be Gilda. Gilda and Tom quickly rekindle their romance and he spends the night at their place. They are quite surprised when George returns a few days earlier than expected and immediately figures out what happened and throws both of them out. But before Tom and Gilda can leave, she writes each of them a farewell letter and runs off to marry Max.
With Gilda out of the picture, Tom and George become good friends again. However, once Gilda is married, she loathes having to entertain Max’s clients and playing inane party games. The night Max is having a very important party for his clients, Tom and George decide to crash the party and hide up in Gilda’s bedroom. When she escapes from the party and finds them there, the three of them have a great time telling stories and laughing. After Max comes in and finds them, he throws them out, but they just go downstairs and start a big fight with the guests. Gilda decides to leave Max and heads out with Tom and George to resume their old lifestyle.
I adored Design for Living! Fredric March, Gary Cooper, and Miriam Hopkins had real chemistry together, they were absolutely delightful to watch. With Gary Cooper and Fredric March both at their most handsome, who can blame Miriam Hopkins for having a hard time choosing between the two? The writing is smart, witty, and sophisticated, even if it was drastically rewritten from the original Noel Coward play. Only one line from the original play made its way into the movie. And with Ernst Lubitsch in the director’s chair, it’s got that infamous sleek, stylish touch. I loved everything about it. If you’ve never seen it before, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
A while back, I was talking with Colin from Pick ‘n’ Mix Flix Movie Reviews, and we got to discussing movie lists. Over at his site, he did a list of his 101 favorite movies and he challenged me to make my own top 100 list. And since everyone seems to love movie lists, I thought it’d be a fun project. So, here’s the deal: Every Friday, I’ll be counting down my top 100 favorite movies, ten at a time. I really didn’t set any rules for myself, so every kind of movie was fair game. Classic, modern, American, foreign, there’s a little bit of everything in there. Without further ado, let’s get to the first ten.