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Tag Archives: TCM

A Monstrous Moment

He’s got things all wrapped up.

Yes, it is another Monstrous Monday Post.  I am not even sure I can manage that, but I will try.  Don’t mind me; I’m having a moment.  For the past two months I’ve been having a moment.  I expect to get over it soon.

I need a little spookiness to cheer me up!

This is a neighbor’s Halloween display from last year.  I must begin my own Halloween decorating soon.  That will be nice.

He is hot, yes.

In other cheerful news, I just read that Peter Cushing is the Star of the Month for TCM in October.  That means Hammer Horror!  Yay!

Speaking of Masters of Horror…

 

Here are a few more fellows who I’d like to see featured by TCM:  Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and Vincent Price.

Yum, yum!

I thought I ought to include Christopher Lee as well.  No doubt there are others I should include, but there will be other Monstrous Mondays.

Regular readers know who my favorite is!

Here are a few actual monsters, just to get back to the theme of the day.

She needs a new outfit.

I close with another of my at-home monsters, Bonita.  Isn’t she elegant?  And that brings me over 200 words.  Freudian typo:  I started to put years instead of words.  How old I feel?  Or how long some things seem to take?  Anyways, it’s better than 200 pounds!

 

Mid-Week Movies

I KNOW I just two days ago did the picture thing, but who wants to see another post about me whining that I can’t think of a post to write? As I was looking at Facebook, trying to think of SOMETHING to write about, on my On This Day, I saw this and said, “Cool!”

I gotta get me a bra like that.

This is Man Bait from 1952.  I have never seen it, but I love the poster.  The funny thing (to me, anyways) is that I found it on the Facebook page Classic Film Freak.  I do not feel this looks like a classic.  It looks more like one of those B or C (for cheesy) movies I love.  No matter.  It is an awesome poster and I wanted to put it in a blog post.  Naturally I did not want to put just one picture in my blog post.

Returning to Classic Film Freak, the first thing to meet my eye was a poster with one of my all-time favorites:  Boris Karloff!  Yay!

He looks mad!

I never saw this one either.  It is from 1936.  I wonder if TCM will play it sometime.  I’ll have to watch for it.

Another Classic Film I somehow missed.

I thought Buccaneer’s Girl from 1950 tied in with Boris Karloff, because it starred Yvonne DeCarlo, loved by many as Lily Munster.  I see now that the film is even more closely related, as it features Elsa Lanchester, title character in The Bride of Frankenstein.  Another movie for me to seek out, I think  (Buccaneer’s Girl, I mean.  I have  The Bride of Frankenstein on DVD, of course).

It is funny that I am suddenly seeing movies I want to catch.  I recently read a blog post decrying the loss of video stores and telling Netflix a thing of two.  I am not on Netflix nor have I any idea of how to stream anything.  It was Ben’s Bitter Blog, one of my favorites.  It lets me tap into my bitterness, which I usually try to keep out of my blog (you know, because of that “totally fun” line in the subtitle).  I guess I am actually a little bitter now that I did not make a better blog post.  Then again, this is Wuss-out Wednesday.  Guess I’ll hit Publish and drive on.

 

Old Movies on a Rainy Sunday

I love a rainy Sunday.  My favorite kind is with old movies.  Imagine my delight, then, when after seeing rain in the forecast I saw that it was Bette Davis day on TCM.  I LOVE Bette Davis!  I prefer to write about cheesy movies in this space, but for Wrist to Forehead Sunday, I feel justified in giving an overview of my Bette Davis day.

We tuned in to The Letter at nine.  We’ve seen this one before.  We rented it in Augusta, GA (remember going to a video store and renting movies?).  I wrote my Mom a letter about it in which I said something along the lines of,  “We saw this Bette Davis movie where she murdered this guy and was on trial for it.  There was this letter she had written which would incriminate herself and she had to get back the letter.  It was a really good movie, but I don’t remember the title.”  Steven wrote in the margin, “It was The Letter.”  I was pretty amused by that, but sometimes I am easy to please.

After The Letter was Mr. Skeffington, which I had DVR’d once but never watched (then we got a new cable box and the chance was lost).   I found it very sad, although the ending was happy (should I have included a spoiler alert for that?)  It also stars Claude Rains, who Steven and I love.  Bette Davis loved him, too.  I like to hear about actors who like and respect one another.  Oh, I guess it is also interesting to hear about when they loathe and despise one another.

Which brings us to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?  That movie is on now, and we are watching re-reuns of Snapped.  You would think I would love that movie, but I do not.  I know, I love Bette Davis, I love Joan Crawford, I love old horror movies.  But I don’t like that movie.  Go figure.

We shall watch A Catered Affair, with Ernest Borgnine, which is on next.  I do like Ernest Borgnine.  Then we FINALLY get to some cheesy stuff with The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.  I was thinking I had written a blog post about that one, but I was getting it mixed up with The Virgin Queen, which is a really cheesy one. I’d better watch Elizabeth and Essex again and make sure it’s as cheesy as I’m thinking. I may stay up past my bedtime for that one.  Happy Sunday, everyone.

 

 

Cheesy Queen

I thought I might have found a cheesy movie when I saw the title Queen of Outer Space (1958) on the TCM schedule. When I saw that Zsa Zsa Gabor starred, I was even more hopeful. My hopes were confirmed with Ben Mankiewicz’s pre-movie commentary. A typical ’50s sci fi flick: low budget, cheesy special effects and a lot of fun. I will say: not the most fun movie I could think of, but considering the cheese shortage I have been experiencing lately, it’ll do.

Spoiler alert: I’m going to give a lot away. I don’t think I’m spoiling much, though, because it’s the sort of movie where you pretty much see everything coming.

My first disappointment was that Zsa Zsa was not the queen. I learned that during the pre-movie commentary. My next disappointment was that the movie takes forever to get started.

The plot concerns that staple of cheesy movies, a civilization of all women. This one is on, what a surprise, Venus. But of course we can’t start out actually on Venus tussling with the ladies. We must start out on Earth, learning the mission of the three astronauts and their important passenger blah blah blah. Important takeaway: these guys are tops in astronauting but the mission is supposed to be a milk run.

I did not notice what year the movie is supposed to take place in — the future of 1958 anyways — but space travel has certainly advanced. The astronauts are taking Important Guy to a space station, which one astronaut refers to as a bus depot.

A word about the three astronauts. They are a captain and two lieutenants. I think they were supposed to have distinct personalities. The stalwart leader, the ladies man and the wise cracker. However, they seemed pretty much interchangeable to me.

Take off is slightly delayed when Ladies Man (I think) pauses on the tarmac to kiss a beautiful blond good-bye.

“Space ships are dangerous,” she squeaks in the approved airhead voice. “What if you get lost?”

As things turn out she should be more worried about his wandering eye than any wandering the ship might do, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Then again, this blond is not seen, mentioned nor thought of again, so I guess the whole movie is hard luck on her.

Stalwart Leader looks out the window (!) at them, then gets on the loudspeaker (!) and tells Ladies Man to get on board. After a few more smooches, he does.

The movie is further delayed when they feel the need to let us hear the whole countdown. Couldn’t they at least have started on five? In your better movies, during the countdown a character is trying frantically to get something done or a villain perpetrates some nefarious act. This movie just flashes on the spaceship, the blond looking worried, and the guys strapping themselves into beds. Apparently space travel has become very relaxing in whatever year this is supposed to be.

It’s gotten pretty hands-off as well. After the space station is blown to smithereens before their eyes and they are under attack themselves, Stalwart Leader puts it on autopilot and they strap themselves back into the beds.

“Who’s flying the ship?” I asked.

Flash to some of those cheesy special effects: either a model or a cardboard cut-out of the ship moves shakily across the screen while fake-looking flames squiggle below.

As is often the case in science fiction, the gravity and atmosphere on another planet are nothing to worry about. As a nod to reality, one of the astronauts says to Important Guy that he thought the atmosphere on Venus was too heavy from… something.

“I used to subscribe to that theory,” Important Guy says importantly.

“But my subscription ran out and I didn’t renew it,” I interjected and thought I was pretty clever for making Steven laugh.

The men disembark from their disabled but not totaled spacecraft and are soon captured by women with some pretty tough firearms. They speak English because, as one explains scornfully, they have been intercepting Earth’s radio transmissions.

I must say I was pretty glad to see the women show up. Who knew single gender movies could be so dull? Naturally the women wear low-cut, form fitting mini- dresses. I expected something like that. I have to ask myself: is it feminist or anti-feminist that with no men around to impress or entice, movie women just naturally pick the sexiest way to dress?

Another thing I wonder about thee all-female societies is the age distribution. It seems the entire population is in the 18 to 29-year-old range (Zsa Zsa might be a little older, but we’ll let that slide). Where are the little girls and the old ladies? Some mention is made about how the men are sequestered somewhere in a “breeding colony.” I wondered if they had figured out a way to make the men be pregnant, because I didn’t see any baby bumps either.

You know I don’t pay too much attention to these things, especially the boring parts like explanations. As near as I could figure out, the women, led by the one who is now queen, kicked out all the men, because the women were tired of war. They promptly built the super-duper weapon that destroyed the space station and now plan to destroy the Earth as well, for reasons unspecified. It is either a profound statement on absolute power corrupting absolutely, some kind of feminist or anti-feminist propaganda, or a typical B movie “Waaaait a minute” plot development.

However, one lets these considerations slide when enjoying a cheesy sci-fi flick. I’m afraid it was not an hour and a half on unalloyed enjoyment, but for an evening’s entertainment and the subject of a blog post, it was OK.

The Incredible Shrinking Blog Post

As a change from a post about Why I Can’t Write a Post, how about a post about Why I Can’t Write About This Movie. Having just thought of a good title, I see I must also keep this one short.

Spoiler Alert! Because even as I say I am not writing about this movie, I may inadvertently give something away. Perhaps one day I will do a post on why I feel so obligated to always give a spoiler alert.

I DVR’d The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) because I was certain a science fiction movie from the ’50s would offer the cheese content I desire. Will I ever learn my lesson about that?

It turns out the movie was part of a new feature on TCM (at least new to me; I don’t know how long they’ve been doing it), Essentials Junior. The Essentials, a feature I sometimes catch, shows the movies you must watch if you aspire to be a real cinemaphile (my computer says that’s not a word, but isn’t it?). Robert Osborne and a co-host of varying degrees of credibility discuss it beforehand.

Bill Hader hosts Essentials Junior, and he starts out by giving a plot summary. What’s that all about? I hate to be given a plot summary! And it seems really pointless in this case. I mean, we’ve tuned in, we’ve already decided to watch the movie. What do we need a plot summary for? As I expressed my feelings about this in the TV Journal, Hader went on to make some more substantive comments about the movie and the times in which it was made. However, I missed most of them, because I was busy writing about my disgruntlement.

Incidentally, the irony is not lost on me that as I sat there decrying plot summaries, most of my movie posts are just that.

That is really the most interesting thing I have to say about The Incredible Shrinking Man. The movie was not particularly cheesy. The effects were actually pretty good for their time. Oh sure, there was the occasional inconsistency in perspective. You’ll have that.

The problem I had with the movie — and I emphasize that this was only a problem for me, not a bad thing about the movie — is that it was deadly serious. It was, dare I say it, philosophical. And their philosophy was not half-baked! What can Mohawk Valley Girl say about a movie like that?

I promised a short post, so I’d better shut up now. Maybe this was another foolish post, but in my defense, at least this time it wasn’t all about me.

Taking Liberties with Miss Marple

When I DVR’d Murder Ahoy starring Margaret Rutherford from TCM, I was hoping for a star-studded Agatha Christie extravaganza, maybe in a “Love Boat” type of setting. It was not that, but it was an enjoyable movie and not without certain points to ponder (you know how I hate to do just a straight review).

My first point of contention came during pre-movie commentary when Ben Mankiewicz kept referring to the main character as “Mrs. Marple.” It’s MISS!!! She is an old maiden lady, gossipy and harmless. It is perhaps a small point, but I think it is telling. Mankiewicz certainly never read a Miss Marple book and I question how many Miss Marple movies he has actually seen.

In fact, I know he’s never read a Miss Marple book, because he said “Mrs. Marple” was featured in 20 short stories by Agatha Christie. In fact, she was also in a number of novels (I didn’t look up how many, but you needn’t shake your finger at me; I’ve probably read them all).

Oh, I know, I’m carping. I don’t expect Ben Mankiewicz to have watched every movie TCM possibly shows, much less researched them all himself. I know he has a staff for such things. But I still think it is perfectly legitimate for me to point out: It’s Miss Marple, not Mrs., and she was featured in novels as well as short stories. OK, I’m done. For now.

Murder Ahoy, Mankiewicz tells us, was not adapted from a Christie story but is an original mystery based on the character. Well, I don’t mind that. Sometimes a novel doesn’t translate so well onto the screen. An original screenplay is at least written for its medium.

In the novels, Miss Marple solves mysteries mainly through her extensive knowledge of human nature (idea being that a maiden lady has more leisure to observe these things than, for example, a married lady with half a dozen kids to look after). Somebody would remind her of somebody she used to know and that would give her the key.

I believe this sort of thing works better on the page than on the screen. No matter, because this Miss Marple doesn’t seem to work that way. For heavens’ sake, she has laboratory equipment so she can detect the poison in… well, you know I don’t like to give everything away.

The written Miss Marple also stuck close to her little village of St. Mary Mead, with a few exceptions. Purists feel she was at her best at home, but I have no prejudice either way. This Miss Marple, as you probably expected, goes on board a ship to solve the mystery.

I have to say that the liberties taken with the character of Miss Marple did not bother me one bit. Dame Christie herself was the first to point out that screen (or stage, for which many works were originally adapted) is a different medium with different requirements. In fact, I’m not even going to share all the things the movie makers added, because at least one was for me a quite delightful surprise.

I thought the movie Murder Ahoy was quite entertaining. I look forward to other Miss Marple movies starring Margaret Rutherford.

I Was in the Mood for a Fiend

I think any movie with Vincent Price is worth a watch. Of course, you never know what you may be in for. I’ve seen him in the cheesy William Castle flick House on Haunted Hill and the stylish noir Laura, to name two of my favorites. When I saw something called Diary of a Madman on TCM, I reached for the DVR button on the remote.

Diary of a Madman (1963) is based on a story by Guy de Maupassant. I’ll have to read the story sometime so I can compare/contrast. However, I thought I would write this blog post before I did any such thing.

The movie opens on a funeral — always a good start for a horror flick. A “good man” is dead — at least, that’s what the eulogy says. One lady emphatically does not buy into that description. Several people meet, at the behest of the dead man, for the reading of his diary. That’s right, not the will, the diary. Didn’t you see the title of the picture?

Flashback to Vincent Price as a highly respected magistrate, going to see a condemned killer before his execution. The killer protests his innocence: it’s not him, it’s the demon that possesses him. Then he tries to kill Price. Well, I guess the demon tries to. Price kills the murderer first, so what do you suppose will happen to the demon?

That much we read in the description of the movie on the guide channel. To continue a plot summary would, I think, call for a spoiler alert. I don’t intend to exactly recount the plot, but just to be on the safe side, consider yourself alerted for possible spoilers.

The demon, it seems, does not so much possess Price as follow him around, taunting him and occasionally making him do things. And to my mind, not nearly enough things. Come on, the first guy the demon possessed — and this is just backstory — killed four people without motive. It takes forever for Price to start murdering!

When he finally does kill someone, he is not nearly as fiendish as we like our Vincent to be. There is a rather satisfyingly macabre bit involving a sculpture of somebody we don’t like much anyways, so that helps. Price was an excellent actor. He could play the tormented sufferer who wants to do right and it is a fine performance. I was just in the mood for a fiend.

The ending has a definite “Waaait a minute!” quality, but then, movies using a diary as a framing device often do. I mean, people are very rarely able to describe their own death in a diary before it actually happens (I didn’t spoil anything; remember? it opened on his funeral).

Perhaps they could have overcome the difficulty with a voice-over narration, something along the lines of, “This is what I plan to do. If you’re reading this, you’ll know it worked.” But they made no use of voice-over narration. Kind of silly of them, since Vincent Price had such a nice voice. Astute readers may remember my saying that I don’t like voice-over narration. True, it’s not my favorite. In this case, however, it may have enabled them to skip over a bunch of the boring parts before he gets around to killing somebody. Then they could have fit in a few more murders.

I guess it’s not the job of a reviewer to tell the movie makers how to fix the movie. I can see the director now huffing, “Fine! You go make a movie!” I guess they have a point. Reviewers ought to review the movie they saw, not the movie they wished they would have seen. Well, leaving aside the fact that I rarely do what I ought to (and brag about it), I’m not a real reviewer! I write a silly blog! Where do these movie makers get off, talking to me like I’m Leonard Maltin? They should just go make another movie. Maybe I’ll write about it next week.