Friday, February 26, 2010

For the Weekend: A Little Dose of Good Stuff

I know I mention TCM a lot, but O-M-G, it's such an awesome channel for people like me!  AND their 31 Days of Oscars is just heavenly programming!  Unfortunately, I still do not have cable, so I get to live vicariously through all my readers by discussing the great movies on there.  And for this weekend, I have 3 movies I think you should check out.

First is "The Manchurian Candidate," the original 1962 version with the creepiest Angela Lansbury you will ever come across.  Also starring Frank Sinatra, Janet Leigh, and Laurence Harvey, it tells the story of what everyone feared back in the McCarthy era - secret communist mind control.  Based on the book by Richard Condon, "The Manchurian Candidate" captivated audiences fresh off the anti-communist days with its dark political satire and queasy thrill moments.  Many believe its Sinatra's best performance ever, but it's truly Lansbury who shines.  Although actually only 3 years older than Harvey, she made such a powerful impact as his controlling mother that she won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar.  You can catch "The Manchurian Candidate" at 10:30am EST on Saturday, the 27th.

Later that evening (much later), at 3:30am EST, I recommend another strong cast, this time all females.  The film is "Stage Door" from 1937.  It stars Ginger Rogers, Katherine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, and Eve Arden - just to name a few familiar faces.  It tells the story of a group of struggling actresses trying to make their way in New York City, all living in the same boarding house.  It's funny and heart-breaking all at the same time.  Director Gregory LaCava let the cast ad-lib their girl-biting quips many times, so you truly get the personality of actors like Rogers and Ball coming out in their roles.  You can also hear Hepburn saying her famous line "The calla lilies are in bloom again" in this film, though originally from the play "The Lake" in which she starred (and to which Dorothy Parker famously reviewed her performance as running "the gamut of emotions - from A to B").

Finally, to top off the weekend, check out "Road to Morocco" (1942) at 2pm EST on Sunday, the 28th.  This is considered by many (including me) to be the best of Bing Crosby's and Bob Hope's "Road" pictures.  In this film, we find the hilarious pair shipwrecked off the coast of Africa. As they make their way to Morocco, they run across the always-delightful and fellow "Road"-ie Dorothy Lamour, and "Morocco" baddie Anthony Quinn.  Nothing but hilarity and fun ensues as the two try to survive. Crosby and Hope banter about their situation, their villains, even their studio, Paramount.  Their chemistry is smooth as silk as they play off each other, something not to be missed.

So, plop yourself down this weekend and enjoy some TCM goodies, a nice little variety for the movie lover's pallet.  Have a wonderful weekend and I'll see ya back here on Monday.

(Port-tidbit:  Ann Miller was only 14 years old when she made "Stage Door."  She lied, with the help of a faked birth certificate, saying she was 18, to get the part.)


  1. Two years after 'The Manchurian Candidate' John Frankenheimer made a movie called 'The Train' in which Paul Scofield plays a Nazi who loads up a train with a huge stockpile of artwork from France and tries to smuggle it into Germany. Burt Lancaster is the French Resistance fighter who has to stop him. I highly recommend it. He more recently did 'Ronin' another spy movie with Robert De Niro that's also worth checking out.

  2. The remake of "Manchurian Candidate" was disappointing. They should have just left it alone.

  3. Jeff - Thanks for the recommendation. I'll give it a try.

    Tom - Couldn't agree more. Hollywood should really leave some movies alone. They were already great the first time around.