Angela Lansbury

What’s on TCM: October 2013

Vincent PriceHappy October, everyone!  I hope you’re ready for plenty of classic horror movies because TCM is going all out for Halloween this year. Not only will Friday Night Spotlight be all about classic horror movies, we also get Vincent Price as October’s Star of the Month.  Even though not every Vincent Price night focuses on horror movies, there are a couple that do, including the most important night — Halloween.

TCM’s Story of Film series will continue this month on Monday and Tuesday nights.  I love having the chance to see so many of the movies discussed in the documentary so I’m really looking forward to see more from this series.

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All Fall Down (1962)

Sixteen-year-old Clint Willart (Brandon De Wilde) wants to be just like his older brother Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty).  Berry got out of his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio and now spends his days roaming from city to city and picking up lots of women along the way.  When Clint arrives in Florida to give Berry some money he needs, he quickly realizes the locals don’t hold Berry in the same high regard.  In fact, Berry has a reputation for beating up women and is in jail for assaulting a prostitute.  Clint bails him out and is disappointed to be sent back home almost immediately rather than getting to spend much time with Berry.

Clint comes back to Cleveland feeling completely disillusioned.  His parents, Annabell (Angela Lansbury) and Ralph (Karl Malden), are dying to find out what Berry has been up to, but Clint doesn’t even want to talk about it.  We soon find out Clint is the only well-adjusted person in his family; Annabell is overbearing and Ralph is a drunk.  But Clint’s life gets a little bit brighter when Annabell invites her friend’s daughter Echo O’Brien (Eva Marie Saint) to stay with them.  Echo is thirty-one and has never been married, but Clint is infatuated with her.

When Christmas rolls around, Berry decides to pay a visit to Cleveland.  His parents are thrilled to have him back, but it turns out Echo is the happiest to see him.  When she meets the infamous Berry, they hit it off right away and begin a relationship.  She loves him and he wants to love her back.  Berry even manages to stay out of trouble for a while because of her.  But when he finds out she’s pregnant, it brings his violent tendencies back to the surface.  He leaves her and she commits suicide.  Clint wants to kill Berry for what he’s done to Echo, but when he sees Berry in a moment of weakness, he realizes Berry ought to be pitied more than anything.  He’ll never be like Berry, but he realizes he’s dodged a bullet.

All Fall Down is so very close to being a great movie.  The cast is amazing and there are some excellent performances to be seen here.  It features some beautiful cinematography by Lionel Lindon.  This was one of the first films directed by John Frankenheimer and he proves to be a very capable director.

The only thing stopping it from being a great film is its occasionally flimsy writing. Right from the beginning of the movie, we see how Clint adores Berry, but I don’t know exactly what Clint sees in him.  I completely understand how a teenager would romanticize the kind of freedom Berry has, but I’m not sure how he would have been so completely oblivious to this sinister side of his own brother.  In the beginning, Clint says that Berry isn’t a bad guy, so I’m curious as to what made him likeable in the first place because the Berry we see in the movie isn’t likeable at all.

Despite my issues with the writing, I still enjoyed All Fall Down.  The quality of the performances definitely helped carry the movie through its weaker moments.  It’s just too bad to see a movie be great on so many levels but not quite reach its full potential.

What’s on TCM: January 2012

Happy 2012, everybody! January is, as always, chock full of good stuff on TCM.  The first star of the month in 2012 is Angela Lansbury and her movies can be seen every Wednesday night this month.  Every Thursday night will be dedicated to showcasing the work of cinematographer Jack Cardiff.  With no further ado, let’s get to my picks for January.

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My Top 100, 90-81

Welcome to week two of counting down my top 100 favorite movies!  This week is a pretty eclectic bunch of movies.  There are a lot of lighthearted favorites, a couple of mysteries, some from the “I don’t usually like this kind of movie, but…” file, and even a few of my modern favorites.  So, let’s get to number 90…

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