TCM Week: April 16-22

When I was younger, my aunt, who is the person most responsible for my classic movie addiction, had a book, Halliwell’s Film Guide, by British film critic and TV producer Leslie Halliwell. There are cast and crew lists, production info, and short reviews of probably thousands of movies in the book; I can’t imagine that Halliwell went even one day without watching a movie. Despite the fact that he watched movies for a living, he seems to have been kind of a cranky guy, and he didn’t have too much of a sense of humor. But he had a unique voice, was a master of the backhanded compliment, and you can learn a lot reading his Guide. So I thought I would see what he wrote about the movies I think look interesting this week. Everything in quotes is from Halliwell’s Film Guide, fifth edition. Charles Scribners’ Sons, New York: 1986.

Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill in City Lights

Monday, April 16
Early Morning Charlie Chaplin Block
6:00 a.m. Pay Day (1922) [Halliwell didn't review this one]
6:30 a.m. The Kid (1921) “The comedy is very sparingly laid on…the film contains much of the quintessential Chaplin.”
7:30 a.m. A Woman of Paris (1923) “Remarkably simply-handed ‘road to ruin’ melodrama; its subleties of treatment make it still very watchable for those so inclined.”
9:00 a.m. City Lights (1931) “Sentimental comedy with several delightful sequences in Chaplin’s best manner.”

Paul Newman plays Armand, the bomb throwing anarchist, and Sophia Lauren is the laundress who loves him in Lady L

Tuesday, April 17
2:45 p.m. Lady L (1965)
Peter Ustinov directs Sophia Loren, Paul Newman and David Niven in this fictional biography of a laundress who became a duchess through marriage. Tell us how you really feel, Halliwell: “Unhappy, lumbering, styleless attempt to recapture several old forms, indifferently though expensively made and acted.”

6:30 p.m. She Couldn’t Say No (1954)
The casting sounds good, I loved these two together in the very different Angel Face: Jean Simmons as a wealthy young lady who wants to give away loads of money to the citizens of a small town and Robert Mitchum as the small town’s doctor.  Halliwell’s verdict? “Moderate Capraesque comedy which doesn’t quite come off.”

Wednesday, April 18
11:00 p.m. The Endless Summer (1966)
I don’t need Halliwell for this one. This low-fi documentary about a couple of surfers following sick waves around the world is fascinating, beautiful and best watched in the dead of winter. Without director Bruce Brown, I don’t think there would have been a Warren Miller.

Thursday, April 19
Beach Party (1963)
***TCM PARTY***
Frankie (Frankie Avalon) just wants to be alone at the beach with his girlfriend Dolores (Annette Funicello). She just wants to have a party with tons of friends. Unbeknownst to them, they’re all being observed in minute detail by an anthropologist (Robert Cummings). Complications and hilarity ensue. Laugh and tweet along with #TCMParty…our special guest host is @ChicagoBernie. Halliwell would sort of approve: “Vaguely satirical pop musical with relaxed performances; quite tolerable in itself, it started an excruciating trend.”

Friday, April 20
6:45 a.m. Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966)
This one sounds like it may have been the inspiration for the fembots in the Austin Powers movies. A mad (is there any other kind?) scientist (Vincent Price) creates a bunch of, um, bombshells, which are supposed to destroy the top military brass in every country in the world. Halliwell didn’t hold back: “Inane teenage nonsense, almost enough to make one swear off movies.”

Saturday, April 21
7:30 a.m. Nothing Sacred (1937)
Carole Lombard plays a woman whose misdiagnosed illness has made her a celebrity; Fredric March is the newspaperman who hyped the story. What happens when the mistake is discovered? I love this still-timely comedy and Halliwell did too: “Hollywood’s most bitter and hilarious satire, with crazy comedy elements and superb wisecracks; a joy.”

TCM Week spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan viewing, DVR scheduling, and/or #TCMParty attendance. All times are EST.

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4 responses to “TCM Week: April 16-22

  1. Hi, Paula and company:

    ‘The Kid’ and ‘City Lights’ are pure Chaplin. That coax you to run the gamut of emotions in the deft, effortless hands of a master.

    I’m looking forward to ‘The Endless Summer’. One of the best edited and executed treks in search of the perfect waves. Also one of the first and coolest lobby posters I walked out with as a kid.

    I’m still a big fan of ‘Where the Boys Are’. For the beginnings of a perfect team-up with Jim Hutton and Paula Prentiss. Frank Gorshin with his timing and stand up bass are just icing on the cake!

    • Hi Jack! I recorded all of the Chaplin movies to the DVR. I think at least 2 of them will probably make me cry.

      Endless Summer makes me want to quit my job & take up surfing! and that is a really great poster :) Do you still have it?

      I know I am in the minority re: Where The Boys Are. Hutton and Prentiss do have very good chemistry. It isn’t horrible or anything, it’s just not a favorite. I always think it’s so interesting that Dolores Hart was a Hollywood actress and entered a convent.

  2. Lady L sounds great, wow what a cast. Sophia Loren is so beautiful, and that’s what I love about the Classic era, one doesn’t have to be rail thin to be considered gorgeous. REAL women have curves! :D

    • I definitely set the DVR for it although the reviews for it aren’t strong ;) And I agree, it seems like in Old Hollywood there was more acceptance of different body types. Audrey Hepburn was a big star but she didn’t have any, um, augmentation and I doubt she was expected to have anything “done.”

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