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.
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.”
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)
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.
5 thoughts on “TCM Week: April 16-22”
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.
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! 😀
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.”