Linda Darnell

What’s on TCM: April 2013

Olivier, Laurence_01Looks like we’re in for another busy month on TCM!  TCM has finally broken their long streak of making actresses the Star of the Month by giving the honor to Laurence Olivier in April.

Starting this month, every Friday night will be dedicated to a new series called Friday Night Spotlight.  Each month, Robert Osborne and a different guest co-host will introduce films dealing with a particular theme.  The first Friday Night Spotlight co-host is Cher, who has selected a number of movies with strong female characters, focusing on themes such as motherhood and women in the workplace each week.

If you’re a fan of TCM Underground, be sure to note that starting this month, it has been moved from Friday to Saturday nights.  The 2:00 AM start time remains the same, though.


Fallen Angel (1945)

Drifter Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews) had been hoping to get to San Francisco by bus, but when he gets thrown off the bus for not being able to cover the fare, he finds himself in small town Walton, California instead.  He stops into Pop’s Eats and overhears Pop talking to police about Stella (Linda Darnell), one of his waitresses, being missing.  Detective Mark Judd (Charles Bickford) isn’t too concerned and tells Pop that she’ll probably turn up sooner or later.  Luckily, he’s right, and Stella walks in while Eric is still there.  As soon as he sets eyes on her, he joins Stella’s big group of admirers, but she doesn’t fall for his charms so easily.  After leaving the diner, Eric needs a place to stay for the night.  When he sees that a psychic act is in town, he goes to the hotel and pretends to be a friend of the psychic’s to get into their room for the night.

Eric makes friends with the psychic’s assistant and the next day, he finds out that ticket sales for the psychic’s show have been slow due to Clara Mills (Anne Revere), the daughter of a former mayor, claiming the psychic is a fraud.  Eric decides to help him out and goes to see Clara to convince her to stop interfering with their show.  Clara doesn’t buy his smooth talk, but her sister June (Alice Faye) does and convinces Clara that they should give them a chance and go see their show.  Once word gets out that Clara and June are going to the show, Eric has no problem selling tickets.  But of course the act is a fraud and thanks to a little pre-show research, the psychic finds out that Clara and June had been conned out of much of their father’s inheritance, which gets mentioned in the show.  After the show, Eric continues to pursue Stella.  Stella makes it very clear that she’s looking to get married and settle down and Eric would need more money before he would able to do that.

Even though Eric had been offered a job with the psychic, he decides to stay in Walton because he’s got a plan to get the money he needs fast.  Although Clara and June had been swindled out of a lot of their money, they still have about $25,000 left.  So he starts seeing June and June quickly falls head over heels for him.  After a few dates, Eric brings June and Clara to San Francisco.  He tells them that they would be going to a concert, but really, he plans to marry June to get to her money.  Clara is skeptical, but June is thrilled to be married.  When they get back home that night, Eric sneaks out to tell Stella what he’s doing.  He explains that he will divorce her ASAP, but she is furious and goes out on a date with another man instead.

When he wakes up the next morning, he’s shocked to hear that Stella had been murdered.  Clara had followed Eric to his meeting and could have easily framed him for the murder, but instead she tries to cover for him when Detective Judd questions his whereabouts the previous night.  With Clara’s alibi, the prime suspect becomes another one of Stella’s boyfriends.  But then it turns out the other boyfriend has an air-tight alibi and the focus turns back to Eric.  Eric is afraid of being framed and he and June sneak off to San Francisco together.  Even an ordeal like this isn’t enough to shake June’s love of Eric and as the two of them hole up in a hotel room, they get to know each other better and Eric begins to really love June back.  When they leave the hotel so that June can get the $25,000 out of her safe deposit box, she is arrested and brought back to Walton.  But now Eric is more determined than ever to prove who the real killer is and, with a bit of research, is able to prove who left a vital clue at the scene of the crime.

Fallen Angel is one of those wonderful overlooked movie gems. I don’t hear it talked about much, but it really packed a punch.  It’s full of classic film noir cinematography, Otto Preminger’s direction was first-rate, Dana Andrews brought plenty of suave charm, Linda Darnell positively smoldered in her role, and Alice Faye totally hit it out of the park.  At first, you might think Alice Faye would be a little out of place here since she is so strongly associated with musicals, but she was excellent.  Unfortunately, many of Alice’s best scenes were cut from the film in favor of adding more of Linda Darnell, which prompted Alice to stop making movies for many years.  But despite having so many fine moments end up on the cutting room floor, Alice Faye still delivers big time.  Overall, it’s a first-rate noir that deserves more recognition.

What’s on TCM: August 2011

It’s that time of year again!  Let Summer Under the Stars commence!  I love this year’s line-up.  Even though there are plenty of the usual SUTS suspects like Bette Davis, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart, more than half of this year’s stars have never been part of SUTS before.  And many of those who have been featured before, haven’t been featured in quite a few years.  Let’s take a look at the full list of stars:


It Happened Tomorrow (1944)

When a couple has been married for fifty years, it’s only natural that they’d spend the night of their fiftieth anniversary reminiscing about the past.  But Larry Stevens (Dick Powell) has the most interesting story of all time to look back on: how he used to be able to get tomorrow’s news today.  When Larry was younger, he worked at The Evening News as an obituary writer and eventually worked his way up to regular reporter.  He’s so eager to make it as a reporter that he tells his friends that he’d gladly trade ten years of his own life just to be able to get tomorrow’s news today.  When Pop Benson hears him say this, he tells him how dangerous it could be to know the future.  Larry and his friends drop the conversation and head out of the offices.  As they’re walking along, they see a sign at a nightclub for Oscar Cigolini the fortune-teller and they decide to go inside and catch his act.  Oscar performs with his niece Sylvia (Linda Darnell), and when Larry sets eye on her, it’s love at first sight and he invites her to lunch.  After the guys leave the nightclub, Larry runs into Pop again and Pop gives Larry a copy of the newspaper.  Thinking nothing of it, Larry just puts it in his pocket and forgets all about it.  The next day, a friend of his sees the paper in his pocket and borrows it to look at the job listings.  But after a few minutes, Larry realizes that the paper Pop gave him the night before is full of news that hasn’t actually happened yet.

One of the stories in the paper is that the opera house box office is going to be robbed that afternoon.  When he gets to the office, Larry begs his editor Gordon to let him cover the concert being held there.  When Sylvia shows up for their date, he brings her along to the concert and sure enough, the box office is robbed while they’re there.  Before they left for the concert, Larry had copied down the article from the paper so he arrives back at the office a mere ten minutes after the robbery with the article ready to go.  Gordon is rightfully skeptical about this, but then Inspector Mulrooney confirms it.  But then Inspector Mulrooney is suspicious about how Larry knows so much about the robbery and Sylvia tells him that she predicted it.  And to prove it, she predicts that a woman will attempt suicide by jumping off a bridge.

When Larry gets another newspaper from the future from Pop, he tells the police where to find the robbers and gets to the bridge just after a woman has jumped in.  After he dives in after her, he realizes the woman was really Sylvia, who jumped in just to make her own prediction come true.  When Larry starts telling his fellow reporters that he can see the future, his friends tell him to put his money where his mouth is and tell them which horses are going to win at the racetrack tomorrow.  Larry gets another paper from Pop and, thinking he’s going to make a fortune at the racetrack, proposes to Sylvia.  But when Larry looks a little more closely at the paper, he finds out that he will be shot to death in a hotel tomorrow.  He still goes to the racetrack, wins a fortune, and marries Sylvia anyway, but one of his bookie’s minions isn’t too happy about Larry winning so much money and robs him.  When Larry gets to the hotel he’s supposed to die in, he runs into the guy who robbed him and chases him down.  The two get into a huge fight that ends with the bookie’s cohort being shot down by police.  But because he has Larry’s wallet on him, they mistakenly think they killed Larry.  Larry and Sylvia go on to live a long and happy life together and live to celebrate their golden anniversary.

By now, the idea of a movie about someone who can get tomorrow’s news today really doesn’t seem like a terribly unique idea.  In the time since it was released in 1944, the show Early Edition has used the same general concept and there was a similar episode of The Twilight Zone.  But even if it doesn’t feel terribly original to viewers nowadays, it’s still a pretty interesting movie.  Dick Powell and Linda Darnell were good in it, it’s well-directed, and the story is good.  I wouldn’t call it one of my favorites, but it is worth watching.

A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

One Saturday morning, Deborah Bishop (Jeanne Crain), Lora Mae Hollingsway (Linda Darnell), and Rita Phipps (Ann Sothern), get together to take a bunch of children on a boat trip and a picnic.  Only problem is, there was supposed to be a fourth woman with them, Addie Ross (played by a never-seen, only heard, Celeste Holm).  Just before Deborah, Lora, and Rita leave on the boat, a messenger delivers a letter from Addie in which she says that she has run off with one of their husbands, but doesn’t say which one.  As the day progresses, each woman thinks back to an incident that could have made their husband want to leave them and how Addie Ross plays into each scenario.