Burt Lancaster

What’s on TCM: November 2013

Burt LancasterHappy November, everyone!  As always, there are plenty of wonderful movies to look forward to on TCM, but it’s going to be a little bit of a quiet month.  But considering that the past few months on TCM have been extremely busy between Summer Under the Stars, the Story of Film series, and all the classic horror movies for Halloween, I know I need a lull in the action so I can have time to catch up on some of the things I’ve recorded.

The Story of Film series isn’t quite over yet, it will finish up this month.  But instead of it being on Monday and Tuesday nights, it will only be on Monday nights this month.

The Story of Film series is heading into the modern era and that may be of less interest to some of you, but fear not!  There are still some gems from the earlier days of film to look forward to.  On November 17 and 24, TCM will be showing Lost and Found: American Treasures from the New Zealand Film Archive during Silent Sunday Nights.  The movies featured on these nights are films that were thought to be lost until they were found in a film archive in New Zealand a few years ago.  Some of the films that will be featured include 1927’s Upstream, directed by John Ford, and 1924’s The White Shadow, which is the earliest existing film to credit Alfred Hitchcock (he was its assistant director, writer, art director, and editor.)

November’s Friday Night Spotlight is going to be very fun with a showcase of classic screwball comedies.  Plus we get Burt Lancaster as Star of the Month; his work will be featured every Wednesday night.

Now, let’s get to the rest of the schedule…

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What’s on TCM: November 2011

If you’re a fan of blonde bombshells, this is the month for you!  Rather than having just one star of the month, TCM will be spotlighting two classic blondes every Monday and Wednesday this month.  All the classic blondes like Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Jean Harlow, and Jayne Mansfield (just to name a few) will be getting their time to shine.  And in preparation for the TCM Classic Film Cruise, they’ll be playing a night of movies set on ships every Thursday.  Lots of fun stuff to look forward to, so let’s get to my picks for the month:

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What’s on TCM: September 2011

I hope everyone enjoyed Summer Under the Stars this year!  September is looking like it’s going to be a much quieter month, but there is still plenty to look forward to.  Most noteworthy, this month marks the TCM premiere of a couple long-awaited movies, The Constant Nymph and The Story of Temple Drake.  Kirk Douglas is September’s star of the month and there are some truly stellar nights of his movies to look forward to.  Laurel and Hardy fans will be happy to hear that the duo will be making a few appearances this month.  Thursday nights will be dedicated to celebrating fifty years of Merchant Ivory productions, and those nights tend to have too many modern movies for my liking.  But there are also TCM’s annual tributes to the Telluride Film Festival and the Library of Congress Film Archive, both of which have some pretty excellent stuff to look forward to.

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Trapeze (1956)

At the height of his career, Mike Ribble (Burt Lancaster) was known as one of the greatest trapeze performers around.  He’s one of only a few people in the whole world who can do the dangerous triple somersault stunt.  During one performance, he attempts the triple somersault, but his timing is off and falls, crippling himself.  Even though he could still work as a catcher for a trapeze act, he stays with the circus, but retires into a behind-the-scenes position.  Even though Mike is gone from performing, he isn’t forgotten.  Tino Orsini (Tony Curtis) is a young, aspiring trapeze performer travels from Brooklyn to Paris to see Mike and ask him to teach him to do the triple somersault.  At first, Mike turns him down, but then he sees Tino perform.  He sees that Tino could be a truly great performer if he worked with him and agrees to come out of retirement to coach him and be the catcher in his act.

The two of them work hard and become very close, Mike even believes Tino could do the triple somersault.  They also catch the attention of Lola (Gina Lollobrigida), a trampoline performer.  She hasn’t been able to get her act into the circus, but sees Mike and Tino have a great act going and wants to get in on it.  She talks to Bouglione, the circus owner, and tells him that she’s going to get into their act, but is told that Mike is never going to let a woman into his act.  She sets out to seduce Mike, and although he is charmed, he says no to her being in the act.  So then she tries her luck with Tino, who lets her get on the trapeze with him during some downtime.  Tino sees she could be good and is also charmed by her.  Bouglione thinks audiences would like to see a beautiful girl on the trapeze and decides she will go on with them for opening night, much to Mike’s displeasure.  Even though he wants her gone after the first show, she proves to be such a hit with the audience that she stays.

In the audience that night is John Ringling North, who has come to see Mike come out of retirement.  Ringling is looking for acts for his circus in New York and makes a deal with Mike that if he can get Tino to successfully do the triple somersault within the next three weeks, he wants both of them for his New York show.  But Lola isn’t too thrilled about being left out of the deal and uses her power over Tino to mess with his concentration so he won’t be able to pull off the triple somersault.  Mike sees what’s happening and tries telling Tino about what Lola tried with him, but it only drives a wedge between the two of them.  To prove how fickle she is, Mike starts coming on to her.  But much to his surprise, he realizes that Lola not only doesn’t want to hurt Tino, but he also really does love her.  Meanwhile, Bouglione is getting worried that his star trapeze team will leave him for the Ringling show.  To ease his worries, Lola tells him that she’ll get Tino to take someone else along as his catcher if he leaves.  However, she never has the chance to tell Mike about this plan and he’s very surprised when he is fired before a show and Bouglione wants another catcher to take his place.  But since Ringling is in the audience, Mike isn’t about to let all his hard work go to waste.  He goes out there anyway and he helps Tino to finally succeed in doing the triple somersault.  The crowd goes wild and the press is eager to talk to Mike, Tino, and Lola.  Even though Tino says he wants the act to stay together, Mike realizes their relationship is too strained and asks a friend to take his place in New York instead.

If it weren’t for the cast and the spectacular trapeze performance scenes, Trapeze would have been totally unremarkable.  The whole movie is worth seeing if only for the trapeze scenes.  They were so wonderfully staged, very exciting, and it’s very much worth noting that Burt Lancaster did all his own stunts in those scenes.  Before becoming an actor, Burt had worked in a circus so he knew what he was doing up on the trapeze.  In this movie, he was just as good in his scenes on solid ground as he was up on that trapeze.  There aren’t many actors you can honestly say that about!  He and Tony Curtis made a good team, but that wasn’t a terribly big surprise since I loved The Sweet Smell of Success.  Without these factors, this would have been just another movie about a love triangle.  As it is, though, it may not be an award winner, but it kept me entertained well enough.

What’s on TCM: November 2010

Site news time!  As you may or may not know, November is NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month.  And because I love a challenge, I’ve decided to take a shot at participating.  That’s right, I’m going to try to update the blog every single day in November!   To make things a little more interesting, I’ve given myself a theme to work with: pre-codes.  30 days, 30 pre-code classics!  Here’s hoping I can pull it off!  Now, onto the TCM schedule…


Wow!  This could quite possibly be one of my favorite months ever on TCM!  Fans of silent films, rejoice!  This month, TCM is starting its documentary series Moguls and Movie Stars.  A new episode premieres every Monday at 8:00 PM and is followed by a night of movies related to that night’s episode.  Every Wednesday night is also devoted to Moguls and Movie Stars with more related movies and an encore of that week’s episode.  This is particularly wonderful news for fans of silents because a few episodes of Moguls and Movie Stars are dedicated to the silent era, so they’ll be airing movies from people like Mary Pickford (who I always thought has been very underrepresented on TCM), Clara Bow, Rudolph Valentino, Georges Melies, and D.W. Griffith.  In addition to that, Ava Gardner is the star of the month!  I dig Ava Gardner, so I’m going to be watching a whole lot of TCM this month.

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