By Ed Garea
June is busting out all over, with some real gems among the usual.
TCM Big Screen Classics celebrates the 50th anniversary of Mel Brooks’ The Producers, which will be shown at selected theaters on June 3 and June 6. I remember seeing it when it first came out. I was in high school at the time and no one wanted to go with me, so I went myself and rarely have had a better time. I couldn’t stop laughing. And so began a love affair with Mel Brooks that has lasted until this day. Although I don’t think every film of his is a masterpiece, he has never failed to entertain me through the years. So if you can, go see this classic. You won’t be sorry.
After being a steady viewer since it premiered, it somehow never occurred to me to recommend one of the best shows on TCM, and with this issue I am inaugurating a special section devoted it to it. That show is Noir Alley, hosted by the one and only Eddie Muller. Usually, with the exception of Ben Mankiewicz, I skip past the host’s introduction to the movie, but not with Muller. He is a font of information and the real deal, having authored several books, all of which are in my collection. Besides his signature book, Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, check out his Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir, a study of six femme fatales who helped make noir such an interesting genre: Marie Windsor, Audrey Totter, Jane Greer, Ann Savage, Evelyn Keyes and Coleen Gray. Anyone who devotes a chapter to Ann Savage is okay with me. Eddie’s also a novelist, having written the highly entertaining The Distance and Shadow Boxer. The novels concern a character named Billy Nichols, a sportswriter and boxing devotee in 1949 San Francisco who doesn’t have to look for trouble, as it always finds him. All the books are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
June 3: A double feature of the Swedish star begins at 2 am with the original – and rarely seen – A Woman’s Face from 1938. (The Joan Crawford remake can be seen on June 15 at 12:30 pm.) It’s followed at 3:25 am by Stromboli, her 1950 film with husband Roberto Rossellini.
June 10: A double feature starring the French actor begins at 2 am with Up to His Ears (1965), a comedy with Belmondo as a unhappy billionaire who hires a couple of hit men to bump him off, but has to change his plans after meeting a woman (Ursula Andress) who makes his life worth living. Following at 4 am is That Man From Rio (1964), a crime adventure with Belmondo as a French military man on an eight-day furlough to visit his fiancée, Agnes (Françoise Dorleac). Arriving in Paris, he learns that her late father's partner, museum curator Professor Catalan (Jean Servais), has just been kidnapped by a group of Amazon tribesmen who have also stolen a priceless statue from the museum. Adrien and Agnes pursue the kidnappers to Brazil, where they learn the statue is the key to a hidden Amazon treasure. Dorleac was the real-life sister of Catherine Deneuve, as just as gorgeous. She was tragically killed when her rental car flipped and burned on a roadway in Nice, France, on June 26, 1967. She was only 25.
June 2: The ensemble flick, Dinner at Eight (1933), leads off at 6:00 am, followed by the Tom Keene Western Scarlet River (1933) at 8:00 am.
June 5: Going Hollywood, director Raoul Walsh’s 1933 musical with Marion Davies and Bing Crosby, airs at 6:00 am.
An evening of Pre-Code musicals begins with The Broadway Melody (1929) at 8:00 pm. Following in order are 42nd Street (1933) at 10 pm, Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) at 11:45 pm, Lubitsch’s The Love Parade (1929), with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald, at 1:45 am, and King Vidor’s groundbreaking all African American musical, Hallelujah (1929), at 3:45 am.
June 9: Tom Keene is a rodeo rider who can't face the game after he's almost killed by a wild bronco in The Saddle Buster (1932) at 8 am.
All films air at Midnight and are repeated the next morning at 10 am.
June 2: Bette Davis is a murderess in The Letter from 1940.
June 9: Humphrey Bogart murders wife Rose Hobart so he can be with her sister, Alexis Smith, in Conflict (1945). Sydney Greenstreet figures it all out.
PSYCHOTRONICA AND THE B HIVE
There is seemingly something for everyone in this month’s selection of psychotronic movies.
June 1: Frederic March stars in the 1932 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde at 11:00 am.
A Paul Bartel double feature commences at 2:15 am with his 1972 feature, Private Parts, an offbeat mix of Peeping Tom and Homicidal set in a seedy L.A. hotel. Following at 3:45 am is Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989), about two servants (Ray Sharkey and Robert Beltran) making a bet over who can have sex with their female bosses (Jacqueline Bisset and Mary Woronov) first.
June 2: The serial, Red Barry, with Buster Crabbe, continues at 9:30 am, followed by Tarzan and the Mermaids (1948) at 10:00. Before the Tarzans, the station has been been showing vintage Popeye cartoons, so animation fans, tune in.
It’s followed at 4:15 am by the beautiful Tamara Dobson who takes on the scene-chewing Shelley Winters in the Blaxploitation classic Cleopatra Jones (1973).
June 8: Robert Newton plans to give his wife’s (Sally Gray) lover (Phil Brown) an acid bath in Obsession (Midnight), followed by John Ashley and Pam Grier in The Twilight People (1972) at 2 am and Charles Laughton in Island of Lost Souls (1933) at 3:30 am.
June 9: Another episode of Red Barry airs at 9:30 am, followed by Tarzan’s Magic Fountain (1949) at 10 am.
June 13: Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) discovers Professor Moriarty (Henry Daniell) is behind a rash of gruesome murders in The Woman in Green (1945) at 7:15 am. Later, at 8:30 am, Holmes must track down the printing plates for England’s 5-pound notes in Dressed to Kill (1946).
June 15: At 2 am Faye Dunaway is a fashion photographer who develops the ability to see through the eyes of a psycho who is murdering her friends in Eyes of Laura Mars (1979). Tommy Lee Jones is a detective on the case. Producer Jon Peters originally intended this as a vehicle for then-girlfriend Barbra Streisand (she sings the theme song).
Following at 4 am Genevieve Bujold is a doctor investigating a series of strange deaths and disappearing bodies at her hospital in the thriller Coma (1978). Although the film has a few good tense moments, on the whole it’s forgettable.