With a ton of alternate titles and a couple different versions (U.S. and U.K.), this film based on the short story “Casting the Runes” by M.R. James is both genuinely creepy and a fitting part of Turner Classic Movies’ tribute to Peggy Cummins, who passed away on December 29, 2017 at the age of 92. If you haven’t seen it, or even if you have, you ought to, plus it’s the TCM Party tonight at 9:45 p.m. Eastern with guest host Jim Phoel aka @DraconicVerses.
It’s got some really gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by Edward Scaife (who also shot The Third Man) under the direction of dollar-from-a-dime maestro Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past, Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie). I made some apparently oversized gifs from it (too big for tumblr) and I’m parking ’em here. More gifs after the jump…
Not that anyone noticed that I stopped doing my weekly TCM picks, but there’s a very simple reason. My subscription to Now Playing, the TCM monthly magazine, ran out and I forgot to renew. Evidently I’m quite reliant on it because I missed two months of it and it’s too difficult to do picks without it. Everything is back to normal this month. Just so you know 🙂
Monday, June 4
8:00 p.m. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) ***TCM PARTY***
Possibly in honor of Elizabeth II’s real-life Diamond Jubilee, TCM has two Elizabeth I-related films tonight, the #TCMParty Private Lives at 8:00 and The Virgin Queen (1955) following at 10:00, both with Bette Davis as Britain’s best-loved monarch. (I just conducted a scientific poll via Google search and she is the one royal about whom people have the least bad things to say.) Watching her run a country while trying to keep the Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn) and Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd) in line is quite a treat. Apparently Davis and Flynn were no more well-matched than their characters and feuded during filming to the point of physically injuring each other. Despite this, or because of it, this is a great period drama, with beautiful costumes, sets and lighting. Watch for Herbert Marshall and Joan Collins in Virgin Queen. Watch and tweet along with #TCMParty.
Tuesday, June 5
12:45 a.m. (Weds) Union Depot (1932)
A rather racy-sounding pre-code picture chosen for the presence of Joan Blondell and the fact that it takes place in real time, 20+ years before High Noon.
Wednesday, June 6
TCM has scheduled a bunch of 1930s horror films for daytime, several of which —Island of Lost Souls, Mark of the Vampire, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) — have the gorgeous Expressionistic cinematography I love so. I’ve chosen two I’ve not yet seen. Doctor X (1932) at 7:45 a.m. was directed by the versatile Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) and is sung about in “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” the first number in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Mad Love (1935) at 3:30 p.m. shares a cinematographer, Gregg Toland, and some details with Citizen Kane. This film is one of several based on the novel Les Mains d’Orlac and it will be interesting to compare to The Hands of Orlac (1924), which starred Conrad Veidt as the recipient of the titular evil hands.
Thursday, June 7
8:00 p.m. Jailhouse Rock (1957) ***TCM PARTY***
This is one of the best Elvis Presley movies, along with Loving You and Viva Las Vegas. Unfortunately, it’s also his only his third movie, and he made quite a few more. However, nobody delivers a classic line such as “That ain’t cheap tactics, honey. That’s just the beast in me” better than Elvis. With special #TCMParty guest host @CitizenScreen.Watch and tweet along
Friday, June 8
TCM has scheduled an unofficial block to honor Alexis Smith on her birthday. Born in 1921, this Canadian actress, though not as well-known today as some of her contemporaries, had a career in movies, stage and TV for more than 50 years.
7:45 a.m. Dive Bomber (1941)
Smith had uncredited roles in 12 films before landing this, her first credited role, opposite Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray as the girl who comes between them in a WWII drama made just before the U.S. entered the war. (Her last film role was in Age of Innocence (1993)).
9:30 a.m. The Constant Nymph (1943)
I won’t even front like I like this movie. I find it very odd and at times ridiculous. Joan Fontaine is supposed to be a teenager who separates her composer cousin (Charles Boyer) from his wife (Smith). (Seriously, am I the only one who thinks this is weird?) By the end of the film, I felt they deserved each other. But I’m going to watch it again just for Smith, as I’ve read this was her breakthrough role which led to her parts in Night and Day (1946) and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947).
There’s a great summary of today’s TCM Gothic offerings here, courtesy of Classic Movies Examiner Jennifer Garlen.
Saturday, June 9
5:30 p.m. The Train (1965) ***TCM PARTY***
In the waning days of World War II, a French railway inspector who is also a member of the Resistance (Burt Lancaster…just go with it) is ordered by the Nazi-in-charge (Paul Scofield) to get a train through to Germany no matter what. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, except that nearly every important piece of art left in France is on that train. Directed by John Frankenheimer, this excellent film is an unpredictable chess match that’s as near to an anti-war statement as you’ll get in a WWII picture. Look for us on Twitter with #TCMParty.
midnight The Mad Miss Manton (1938) The Lady Eve co-stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda made this lesser-known comedy three years before Eve. Let’s see…great chemistry in a comedy/mystery with Hattie McDaniel…i’m so there.
Sunday, June 10 JUDY GARLAND’S 90th BIRTHDAY
You can’t really go wrong with anything today.