17, 8:00 pm): This 1957 film is easily one of Elvis' best. He’s
in prison on a manslaughter conviction. His cellmate, a former
country-and-western singer played by Mickey Shaughnessy,
recognizes Vince Everett (Presley) has musical talent after
hearing him sing, and serves as a mentor. When Everett is
released after 20 months in prison, he looks for work as a
singer. He becomes a success thanks to a producer and his love
interest, played by Judy Tyler (she and her husband died shortly
after the film wrapped up production). Presley does a solid job,
showing that with the right material, he was a good
actor. Unfortunately, roles like this rarely came along for
Elvis. The film is critical of the music industry with Vince,
tired of getting ripped off, creates his own record label with Judy.
The film's highlight is the iconic “Jailhouse
performance Everett does for a television special.
A REASONABLE DOUBT (January
21, 1:15 am): The last American film directed by Fritz Lang is an
excellent one with Dana Andrews convinced by his newspaper publisher
father-in-law to plant clues implicating himself in the murder of a
woman. The plan is to prove the weakness of circumstantial evidence
and make a fool out of the local district attorney. The problem is
the plan works and Andrews' father-in-law is killed in a car crash
with the evidence of Andrews' innocence burned to a crisp. This
leaves Andrews on death row and heading for the chair. The concept
and subsequent plot twists are fascinating and riveting, and the
film's conclusion is outstanding and brilliantly executed (pun
ABOUT EVE(January 15, 3:30 pm): One of the great
films about the theater with knockout performances from leads Bette
Davis, Gary Merrill, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm and George Sanders.
Sander won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role.
Sophisticated and cynical with a brilliant script by director Joseph
L. Mankiewicz based on the short story “The Wisdom of Eve” by
Mary Orr. Life ended up imitating art when Baxter pulled strings to
be nominated for Best Actress in addition to Davis. If she had stayed
in the category of Best Supporting, it is likely both she and Davis
would have taken home statuettes. Its one of those films that can be
watched again and again with no lessening of enjoyment.
UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (January 13, 10:00 pm):
Jacques Demy directed this unusual musical, in which every line is
sung, sort of like the latest incarnation of Les Miserables.
But unlike that movie, Umbrellas isn’t nearly as
annoying. The singing voices of the actors are wonderfully dubbed. It
stars Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo as star-crossed lovers
separated when he has to go off to fight in Algeria for the French
Army. As they pledged their love until their death, the circumstances
make for a good test of the pledge. Demy makes what could easily
become a maudlin unintentional parody of the Hollywood musical into a
bittersweet, poetic slice of romantic life. Though it’s set in the
French town of Cherbourg (in Normandy), it has the look of a
Hollywood studio musical, thanks to the good townspeople allowing
Demy to paint their houses in loud, bright colors. It’s a fragile
line for Demy to traipse, but he pulls it off with panache, and stay
tuned for the final, moving scene in the snow.
... LARCENY, INC. (January 19, midnight)
B+. Warners is a studio not known for its great comedies,
so when a funny one crops up we pay attention. And this is a film
with our attention. Edward G. Robinson stars in this brisk comedy as
convict J. Chalmers “Pressure” Maxwell. He’s currently in
prison but is about to be released. While in stir, his fellow inmate
Leo (Anthony Quinn) came up with a unique proposal to rob a bank.
Pressure, however, isn’t interested. He intends to go straight,
move to Florida and open a dog track. The problem is that takes money
and money is the one thing Pressure doesn't have. Nor can he get it.
Banks won’t make loans without collateral. Along with his boys
(Broderick Crawford and Edward Brophy), he raises enough scratch to
buy a failing luggage store next to the bank. His plan is to tunnel
in through his basement to the banks vault and help himself. It’s
the perfect set-up: customers never appear and the street outside
seems to be in a permanent state of disrepair. Suddenly, though,
everything begins going right for Pressure. Customers suddenly
appear. The other store owners make him president of their committee.
A letter he writes on their behalf to the city about the disrepair
street gets action. And worst of all, once Leo gets wind of
Pressure’s plan, he breaks out of jail to get his share. Robinson
is the show here in another send-up of his gangster roles. Aided by
Crawford and the vastly underrated Brophy, he keeps the action
moving. With Jane Wyman in a good turn as his adopted daughter and
Jack Carson as an eager salesman, it’s one to catch.
B+.No one played
Edward G. Robinson's mobster character for laughs better than
Eddie G. himself. In this 1942 film, his character,
J. Chalmers "Pressure" Maxwell gets out of prison with
plans to go straight. His dream of opening a dog racing track in
Florida is thwarted when he's unable to get the financing
because of his gangster background. But Pressure has enough money to
buy a failing luggage store next to the bank that rejected his loan
request. With the help of a couple of dim-witted buddies, Jug Martin
(Broderick Crawford) and Weepy Davis (Edward Brophy) – great
criminal flunky names! – they start digging underground to get
to the bank's safe. One of the funniest scenes has
them breaking a utility line and oil comes pouring out of the
hole with Jug and Weepy, covered in the stuff, thinking they struck a
gusher. While the luggage store is just a cover for their criminal
plans, it becomes very successful. Eddie G.'s charisma and
comedic skills shine in this funny and endearing movie. For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.