Janet Leigh

What’s on TCM: October 2014

Janet Leigh Psycho

Happy October, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I am so looking forward to watching a whole lot of classic horror movies this month. The idea of coming home after work and spending a chilly Fall evening at home watching something eerie sounds like a quality night to me. And luckily, TCM will definitely be delivering in that department this month. Every Thursday night this month will be all about ghost stories. Some will be perfectly creepy for Halloween, others are more lighthearted ghost stories like Topper. Either way, I’ll definitely be tuning in for those. Other great days for classic horror fans are October 28th, October 30th starting at 8:00 PM, and of course, October 31.

Janet Leigh will be TCM’s Star of the Month, so we’ll have the chance to see the ultimate slasher film, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, on October 29th at 8:00 PM. Janet Leigh’s films will be shown every Wednesday night this month.

October’s Friday Night Spotlight series will highlight movies set in Africa.

One night that is definitely not to be missed is October 6th. Starting at 8:00 PM, TCM will be showing 28 shorts from animation pioneers Windsor McCay, Bray Studios, and Van Beuren Studios. These are true landmarks of animation, the vast majority of which have never been shown on TCM before. And where else are you going to have the chance to see Gertie the Dinosaur in prime time? This is going to be a real treat.

Now, let’s get on to the rest of the schedule!

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Harper (1966)

Harper 1966When Elaine Sampson’s (Lauren Bacall) wealthy disappears, she calls detective Lew Harper (Paul Newman) to track him down. Elaine doesn’t care if her husband is dead or alive, but she knows he’s likely drunk and with another woman and she just wants to find out where he is before he gets too generous in his drunken state and gives away something valuable yet again. He starts by talking to Sampson’s daughter Miranda (Pamela Triffin) and personal pilot Allan Taggert (Robert Wagner). After finding out Sampson had been keeping a bungalow in Los Angeles, Harper takes a trip there to investigate and finds a picture of washed-up starlet Fay Eastabrook (Shelley Winters). Harper spends an evening with Fay, and when he brings her home very drunk, he answers a mysterious phone call from a woman thinking she was talking to Fay’s husband.  The woman calling says she saw Fay out with a strange man that night and that she ought to get rid of before “the truck comes through.” From there, he keeps following lead after lead until he finds himself tied up in a conspiracy involving Taggert, Fay, Troy, drug-addicted singer Betty Fraley (Julie Harris), a cult leader, and that mysterious truck.

This movie is just plain awesome. I absolutely loved Paul Newman in this role. Lauren Bacall was a flawless choice to play the jaded, bitter wife. Pamela Triffin was so campy and over the top, but when she was on screen with Lauren Bacall, their two attitudes were so big, that it was just too much and I mean that the best possible way. If drag queens are not already re-enacting that scene in their acts, they are missing a golden opportunity. But fun, campy moments aside, Harper is a quality mystery.  The story’s got enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes the whole time and there’s a great twist at the end. From start to finish, it’s nothing but good, quality entertainment.

What’s on TCM: July 2012

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:

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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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Live Post: The Debbie Reynolds Auction

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.

Updates:

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!

Holiday Affair (1949)

After her husband is killed in World War II, Connie Ennis (Janet Leigh) supports herself and her son Timmy (Gordon Gebet) by working as a comparison shopper.  When she is sent to Crowley’s to pick up an expensive train set, salesman Steve Mason (Robert Mitchum) suspects she might be a comparison shopper, but doesn’t report her like he’s supposed to.  When she takes the train set home with her at the end of the day, little Timmy peeks inside the box and assumes it’s a Christmas present for him and is disappointed when his mother explains it isn’t for him.  That night, Connie’s lawyer boyfriend Carl (Wendell Corey) drops by and as he and Connie are cleaning up, he asks her to marry him.  They’ve been dating for a while, but Connie isn’t sure if she’s ready to move on yet and Timmy isn’t too thrilled about the idea of her getting re-married to Carl.

The next day, Connie goes back to the store to return the train set and Steve tells her that he ought to report her to security.  Afraid of losing her job, she tells Steve about how her husband died in the war and that she’s only trying to take care of her son.  Steve has a heart and decides not to turn her in and refunds her money, but he loses his job because of it.  Now that he has the afternoon off, Steve tags along with Connie for an afternoon of comparison shopping and hot dogs in the park.  Later, Connie and Steve get separated in a crowd while Steve was carrying some of her packages.  He drops by her apartment to return the packages at the same time Carl is visiting.  Immediately, there’s a lot of tension between Carl and Steve and when Timmy meets Steve, it’s clear Timmy prefers Steve over Carl.  However, when Steve suggests that she’s trying to make Timmy into her dead husband, Connie gets so mad that she decides she wants to marry Carl after all.  But before Steve leaves, he goes to say goodbye to Timmy and finds out just how badly he wanted that train set.

On Christmas morning, Timmy wakes up early and when he goes to bring the milk in, he finds a mysterious package by the door from Santa: the train set he wanted.  Timmy is thrilled, but Connie isn’t sure if it came from Steve or Carl.  She quickly finds out it’s really from Steve and, unwilling to accept such an expensive present, she tries to find him to pay him back for it.  She eventually finds Steve in the park, now homeless, but he refuses to take money for it.  After Steve exchanges gifts with some other people in the park, he winds up with a pair of salt and pepper shakers.  But when Steve gets accused of mugging a guy and taking his money and salt and pepper shakers, Connie, Carl, and Timmy go down to the police station and talk to the police lieutenant (Harry Morgan) to clear his name.  After Steve is released, Timmy insists that Steve join them for Christmas dinner.  They all have dinner with Connie’s in-laws and after Connie’s father in law makes a toast to his wife, Steve is inspired to declare his love for Connie.  Connie asks Steve to leave and plans to go ahead with her marriage to Carl, but as a few days pass, Carl realizes that Connie really loves Steve.  By the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, Steve is all set to go to California for work, but Connie and Timmy join him on the train at the last minute to start a new life together.

I saw Holiday Affair for the first time a couple of years ago and it quickly became one of my Christmastime favorites.  Simply put, it’s very sweet, heartwarming, and thoroughly charming.  I enjoyed getting to see Robert Mitchum in a totally different type of role for him.  At the time, he was best known for being in film noir and crime movies.  But after he got busted for possession of marijuana and spent some time in jail, Howard Hughes, who was then the head of RKO, forced him into doing a wholesome movie to repair his image.  Because something like a 43 day jail sentence is totally a surefire way to destroy a tough guy image!  Mitchum’s image came out unscathed, even if Holiday Affair wasn’t a smashing success when it was first released.  Maybe its lackluster success had something to do with the fact that one of the posters they used to promote it makes it look like a film noir, not a heartwarming comedy:

Seriously, if I didn’t know better, I’d think Janet Leigh was a femme fatale up to no good and Robert Mitchum is either there to catch her red-handed or be her partner in crime.  Perhaps it’s a movie about some big heist planned for the holiday season.  The last thing I get from that poster is a hard-working widowed mother and a kind-hearted drifter.  The poster at the beginning of this post is a far better representation of Holiday Affair.

Bye Bye Birdie (1963)

When rock star Conrad Birdie (a very thinly veiled Elvis-type) is drafted by the U.S. Army, the news isn’t just devastating to his legion of teenage fans.  It’s also bad news for songwriter Albert Peterson (Dick Van Dyke), who was supposed to write a song for Birdie’s next movie.  But Albert’s quick thinking secretary and fiancée Rosie (Janet Leigh) manages to convince Ed Sullivan to have Conrad Birdie give a farewell performance on his show, during which he would sing the song “One Last Kiss” (written by Albert, of course) and Conrad would kiss one lucky teenage fan.  Ed Sullivan agrees and Rosie chooses Kim McAfee from Sweet Apple, Ohio to be the lucky girl.  When Conrad arrives in Sweet Apple, his presence wreaks all sorts of havoc in the small town.  Passed out teenage fans litter the streets, Kim’s boyfriend Hugo is insanely jealous, and Kim’s father (Paul Lynde) is not at all thrilled about having a rock star staying in his house.  And to make things worse for Albert and Rosie, Albert’s overbearing mother (Maureen Stapleton) also comes to town bent on splitting up Albert and Rosie.  Kim’s father’s worries are quickly put to ease when he’s promised an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Albert’s mother, on the other hand, is a harder problem to solve.  The visit to Ohio turns outright disastrous when Conrad’s performance on the Ed Sullivan Show is canceled to give the Russian ballet more time.  But because Albert just happens to also be interested in chemistry, he’s able to find a way to get Conrad back on the show.  Of course, Conrad’s performance can’t go the way it’s supposed to.  But everything ends up working out so that everybody goes home happy.

Up until recently, Bye Bye Birdie was a movie that just hadn’t really shown up on my radar.  Considering how much I love musicals and 1960s rock music, you’d think a musical about a 1960s rock star being drafted would rank high on my “to watch” list, but nope.  It wasn’t until I saw an episode of Mad Men that I became oddly intrigued by Bye Bye Birdie.  If you don’t watch Mad Men, there’s an episode where Sterling Cooper is asked to make a commercial for Patio, a precursor to Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi wants the commercial to be an exact copy of the beginning of Bye Bye Birdie. Of course, all the men in the room can’t wait to start casting the Ann-Margret look-alike, but Peggy thinks Ann-Margret is shrill and tries to convince everyone the commercial is a disaster waiting to happen.  (To watch the scene in question, watch the first 50 seconds of this video.)  I had never seen Bye Bye Birdie before, but just from the clip featured in the show, I agreed with Peggy and thought it was kind of annoying.  But seeing that clip actually made me curious about the movie.  Yes, there is part of me that will think, “Wow, this looks obnoxious.  I want to see this!”

When I finally did see it, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie.  Once I got into it, I didn’t find Ann-Margaret quite as shrill anymore.  Instead, I found her vivacious and fun to watch.  I also thought it was fun to see Janet Leigh in such a lighthearted role because when I think of Janet Leigh, I think of things like The Manchurian Candidate and, of course, Psycho.  Janet wasn’t the greatest singer or dancer, but it was fun.  Even though the movie is firmly set in the 1960s, I think it’s a movie all generations can still relate to.  Every generation has their teen heart-throb du jour, so even if you weren’t around to see Elvis get drafted, all you have to do is imagine what it would have been like if one of the New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, or Jonas Brothers got drafted and you’ll get this movie.  No matter how old you are, Bye Bye Birdie is simply a great bit of light, frothy entertainment.  Although, I can see how you might find the movie shrill and annoying if you don’t like super lighthearted stuff.