Montgomery Clift

Blogging Under the Stars 2015

Site News, Movie Memorabilia, and a Liebster!

Hey everyone! Sorry for being a rather infrequent blogger lately. Let’s take some time to catch up with a few fun things. I promise, things are going to be a lot less idle here in the near future.

First of all, it’s almost August and if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know what that means — it’s almost time for this year’s round of Blogging Under the Stars! If you aren’t familiar with Blogging Under the Stars, here’s how it works: every August 2-September 1, I watch and review a movie that airs as part of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars, preferably something I’ve never seen before, although that’s not always possible. My intent of doing this is to encourage myself to watch some movies I otherwise might not have watched and watch some films from actors I’m not so familiar with. I’ve done this for the past few years and every year I’ve discovered some really great movies, so it’s a lot of fun for me.

Now, on to some more fun things…

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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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The Ghosts of Old Hollywood

Betty Grable Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Halloween just wouldn’t be complete without a few ghost stories, right?  So for the sake of getting into the Halloween spirit, here are a few ghost stories featuring some familiar characters.  If these stories are to be believed, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you might still have the chance to encounter some of Hollywood’s most legendary stars.
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Red River (1948)

Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) and his friend Groot (Walter Brennan) join a wagon train headed to California, but along the way, they decide to leave in Texas to start up a cattle ranch.  It means Tom has to leave behind Fen, the woman he loves, but Tom has always dreamed of having his own cattle ranch.  He promises that he will send for her someday, but not long after leaving the train, Tom and Groot see that the train they were part of was attacked by Indians and Fen was killed.  The only survivor of the attack was Matthew (Mickey Kuhn as a child, Montgomery Clift as an adult), who finds his way to Tom and Groot and brings a cow with him.

Tom takes Matt and his cow along with them and begins to treat Matt like a son.  Nothing stands in Tom’s way of making his ranch a success and 14 years later, Tom’s herd has grown to over ten thousand.  But after the South loses the Civil War, not very many people can afford to buy his beef anymore so Tom decides the best thing to do would take all the cattle north to Missouri.  It would be a massive undertaking and Tom has to hire extra help to make it happen.  He knows it’s going to be hard and that people will want to quit along the way, but he tells everyone right off that he won’t tolerate anybody quitting.  As soon as he’s got a good crew ready, they set out for Missouri.

Just as Tom predicted, things start getting hard and very dangerous.  There’s a stampede and one of their wagons carrying food is destroyed.  Food has to be rationed tightly, Tom doesn’t have the money to get more supplies, and when some of the men find out that it might be easier to go to Albilene, Kansas than Missouri, they’re not happy when Tom insists on going ahead to Missouri instead.  Some try to desert, but Tom has them brought back, which pushes Matt to the breaking point.  Matt shoots Tom in the hand and takes control of the cattle drive, leaving Tom behind.  But Tom vows to catch up to them someday and when he does, he’s going to kill Matt.  Matt leads the way to Albilene, but they stop to help another wagon train being attacked by Indians, which is where Matt meets Tess (Joanne Dru).  Matt and Tess fall in love with each other, but he leaves her behind just like Tom left Fen behind all those years ago.  After he leaves, Tom ends up meeting Tess, who begs him to not kill Matt.  Tom doesn’t want to back off, but his meeting with Tess gives him a lot to consider.

I figured I’d start Blogging Under the Stars 2012 off with a movie that’s been on my “To Watch” list for a long time now.  Now that I’ve finally seen it, I can safely say that I wish I had seen Red River sooner.  I certainly never thought John Wayne was a bad actor, but his performance in this really blew me away.  His acting in the scene where Tom meets with Tess is definitely my favorite scene of any John Wayne movie that I’ve seen.  Red River was also the first film Montgomery Clift made.  Costarring with someone like John Wayne for your first movie has got to be pretty daunting task, but Clift managed to really hold his own against Wayne.  There were plenty of exciting moments to keep me entertained,  like the stampede scene and the scene where Tom makes his way into Albilene to have his match with Matt.  Overall, I was very impressed with it and that’s a big compliment coming from someone who isn’t too fond of Westerns.

Lonelyhearts (1958)

Adam White (Montgomery Clift) is an aspiring news writer looking to get his foot in the door any way he can.  Luckily for him, he befriends Florence Shrike (Myrna Loy), who is married to Bill Shrike (Robert Ryan), editor for The Chronicle.  She introduces Adam to Bill at a restaurant one night and Bill has Adam sort of audition for a job on the spot.  Bill jerks Adam around for a little bit, but in the end, tells Adam to drop by the Chronicle offices because there may be a place for him.  Adam is thrilled and runs off to tell his girlfriend Justy (Dolores Hart)  the good news and of course, she is thrilled for him.  When Adam arrives at the Chronicle offices the next day, the wind gets taken out of his sails a little bit when he finds out the job is writing the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.  He knows that he’s all wrong for the job, but agrees to take it because he so badly wants to start his career.

Some of the other reporters like to make fun of the letters people send into the Miss Lonelyhearts column, but Adam is much more compassionate.  People keep telling Adam to just give cold, thoughtless answers, but he thinks they deserve better than that.  Justy advises him to do his best, but not to take it too seriously.  He starts spending more and more time at work, trying to help these people the best he can.  This takes him away from Justy, but she wants to be supportive.  Growing frustrated, he sees Bill in a restaurant one night and asks for a new column.  Bill tells him that it’s either Miss Lonelyhearts or nothing.  But their conversation is overheard by Fay Doyle (Maureen Stapleton), who has written into the column.  Bill and Adam frequently get into arguments over the nature of the people who write in, and one day Bill suggests calling up some of the letter writers and finding out what they’re like first hand.  Adam takes Bill up on this suggestion and by pure chance, dials up Fay Doyle.  The two of them arrange to meet up so Fay can tell him more about her problems.  When they meet and Fay tells Adam all about how her husband Pat had lied to her about how he got a major injury and how it’s left her desperate for affection.  Adam is truly moved by her story, but knows that he’s completely unfit to truly help her with her problems.  Fay had also been hoping that he was looking to have an affair with her, but is disappointed when she finds out he isn’t.

The whole incident drives Adam to drink, something he never normally does.  When he stops into a bar, he runs into none other than Pat.  Pat knows Adam works for the Chronicle, but not that he writes the Miss Lonelyhearts column and asks him to get back the letter Fay had sent in.  Adam manages to get away from Pat, but then finds himself at a party for a fellow Chronicle reporter.  The other reporters start mocking the Miss Lonelyhearts column again and Adam gets into a fist fight.  Once he sobers up, he realizes that this job is destroying his life and decides to quit the paper and leave town.  He’d like Justy to come with him and tries to repair their damaged relationship.  After thinking it over, Justy decides to go with him and meets up with him at the Chronicle, where Adam is saying goodbye to the other reporters.  But their happy reunion is interrupted by Pat barging in with a gun, looking for the person Fay has been talking to.  Adam is able to defuse the situation and before he leaves, a softened up Bill even asks him to stay with the Chronicle.  But Adam realizes that it’s time for him to move on with his life.  Not only did Adam learn some valuable lessons from his time at the Chronicle, he unwittingly managed to teach Bill a few things about life, too.

I had a really hard time getting interested in Lonelyhearts.  I feel like this had the potential to be a far more interesting movie than it ended up being.  I know it was based on the play “Miss Lonelyhearts,” but I’ve never seen the play so I don’t know if something was lost in translation here or what.  First of all, I think Montgomery Clift was a little bit old for his part.  Adam was supposed to be a young, aspiring writer, but at the time this was made, Montgomery Clift was 38 years old.  Even though he was slightly miscast, his performance wasn’t bad so I can forgive the age issue a little bit.  Actually, all the performances were pretty decent, it’s just that they didn’t have the greatest material to work with.  Maureen Stapleton gave the most notable performance in the movie, as evidenced by her Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.  Other than that, I thought the movie moved along very slowly.  There was a good story at the heart of this, but the movie could have greatly benefited from some rewrites and some tweaking here and there.

My Top 100, 80-71

It’s Friday again, which means it’s time to count down ten more of my favorite movies!  All I really have to say about this bunch of movies is that almost all of my favorite types of movies are represented here.  Silents, musicals, foreign, film noir, drama, comedy, they’re all there.  The only way this week’s bunch could be more ‘me’ is if I had worked in some offbeat B-movie in there somewhere.  Now, onto number 80…

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