Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward, and Ava Gardner star in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”

The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952) is an American drama directed by Henry King and starring Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward, and Ava Garnder. The film is based on a short story of the same name by Ernest Hemingway published in Esquire Magazine in 1936.

The plot centers around Harry Street (Peck) a man who is suffering from an infection he contracted while on safari in Africa. As he is waiting to die, he contemplates his life. His past life with Cynthia Green (Gardner) and his present life with Helen (Hayward) who is determined not to let him die.

A huge commercial and financial success when first released, it was the number two box office hit of 1952, second only to The Greatest Show on Earth that went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Henry King (1886 - 1982) was an American actore and director. He was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Director and seven films that he directed were nominated for Best Picture including The Song of Benadette (1943) where he directed Jennifer Jones to a Best Actress Academy Award. While under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox he directed many films starring Tyrone Power and Gregory Peck. Some popular films directed by King include Lloyd's of London (1936), In Old Chicago (1937), Jesse James (1939), Twelve O'Clock High (1949), The Gunfighter (1950), David and Bathsheba (1951), The Sun Also Rises (1957), and The Bravados (1958).

Gregory Peck (1916 – 2002) was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. He had three Best Actor nominations early in his career for The Keys to the Kingdom (1944), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), and Twelve O’Clock High (1949). He had non-exclusive contracts with David O. Selznick and Twentieth Century-Fox, which gave him great flexibility in the roles he chose to play. Other classic Peck film roles include Roman Holiday (1953), The Big Country (1958), The Guns of Navarone (1961). He finally won a Best Actor Academy Award for his iconic portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

Susan Hayward (1917 – 1975) was an Academy Award-winning actress for her role as Barbara Graham in I Want to Live (1958). Hayward worked as a fashion model but traveled to Hollywood in 1937 to try out for the role of Scarlett O’Hara. She didn’t win that coveted role, but she secured a film contract. Hayward’s career took off in the late 1940s when she was nominated for Best Actress for Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman (1947). She received four more Best Actress nominations for My Foolish Heart (1949), With a Song in My Heart (1952), I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955), and I Want to Live. Later in her career, Hayward replaced Judy Garland as Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls (1967).

Ava Gardner (1922 - 1990) was an American actress who signed a film contract with M-G-M in 1941. She played minor roles in a variety of films until her breakout performance in The Killers (1946) on loan to Universal. She hit her stride in the 1950s with films like Mogambo (1953), The Knights of the Round Table (1953), Bhowani Junction (1956), The Sun Also Rises (1957), On the Beach (1959), and 55 Days in Peking (1963). Later in her career she had a recurring role on the television series Knots Landing (1985). During her price, Garnder was considered one of the world’s most beautiful women.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro trivia:

  • Gregory Peck threw out his knew while lifting up Ava Gardner during filming. Production was shut down until he recovered. 
  • There was substantial location shooting in Kenya, but most of the main stars filmed their scenes in Hollywood.
  • Actors considered for the role of Harry Street include Humphrey Bogart, Richard Conte, and Marlon Brando.
  • The highest grossing film for Twentieth Century-Fox that year and the third highest overall at the box office.
  • Gene Tierney and Anne Francis were under consideration for the Ava Gardner role.
  • Bullfight footage is from Blood and Sand (1941).

Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward had a hit the year before
with David and Bathsheba.

Why watch this film?

  • The film features the second pairing of Hayward and Peck who scored a previous box office success with David and Bathsheba (1951).
  • It serves as an example of 1950s popular cinema as envisioned by popular studio director Henry King.
  • Besides Peck and Hayward, the film also features the star power of Ava Gardner.
  • The color cinematography is by multiple Academy Award winner Leon Shamroy.
  • The legendary film composer, Bernard Herrmann wrote the film score.

To watch the film on YouTube, click the link below.

To join the discussion on November 29, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an email invitation with a link to join the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions:

  1. What did you think of the film overall?
  2. Who had the better chemistry with Peck? Hayward or Gardner?
  3. From what you know of Ernest Hemingway, does this film seem Hemingwayesque?
  4. The was the second time Peck played a Hemingway hero; what did you think of his performance?
  5. Did the film’s flashback narrative work for you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Young and Innocent”

Young and Innocent (1937) is a British crime thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Nova Pilbeam and Derrick De Marney. Alma Reville (Mrs. Hitchcock) was in charge of the film’s continuity. The movie is based on the 1936 novel A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey.

A young man named Robert Tisdall (De Marney), while walking along the seaside discovers the body of a famous actress washed ashore. While he runs to get help, he is spotted by two young women who assume he might have something to do with the actress’s death. 

He is grilled by Scottland Yard detectives all night to the point of exhaustion. In the morning, he faints but is revived with the help of Erica Burgoyne (Pilbeam), daughter of the local police chief. Through a strange course of events, Tisdall convinces Erica to help escape until he can prove his innocence.

Will the two be successful in proving Tisdall’s innocence or will he be wrongly convicted of murder?

The film was released as The Girl was Young in the United States.

Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980) was an English film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century. Hitchcock directed over 50 feature films, many are classics that have been honored and studied for years. Some of Hitchcock’s classic films include The 39 Steps (1939), Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Notorious (1946), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960).

Nova Pilbeam (1919 - 2015) was an English film and stage actress. She was in two Hitchcock films in the 1930s. In The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), she played a girl abducted by Peter Lorre’s character. David O. Selznick wanted Pilbeam for the lead in Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940). Pilbeam’s agent was reluctant to have his client sign a long-term contract with Selznick. She never made a film in America, although she did spend a month in America with the head of Gaumont-British Studios. 

Derrick De Marney (1906 - 1978) was an English stage and film actor and producer. Young and Innocent remains his most famous film role, although he starred in other English films, including Uncle Silas (1947) where he played the guardian to a young heiress played by Jean Simmons. De Marney also produced films including The Gentle Sex (1943) starring Leslie Howard.

Young and Innocent trivia
  • Nova Pilbeam married Pen Tennyson (great-grandson of Alfred, Lord Tennyson), an assistant director to Alfred Hitchcock on the film.
  • Pilbeam was only 17 years old when she made this film. Her co-star Derrick De Marney was 31.
  • Pilbeam regarded Young and Innocent as “the sunniest film I was involved with.”

Why watch this film?
  • It’s an early example of the “wrong man” being pursued for a crime he did not commit scenario. This would be a theme that Hitchcock would return to time and again.
  • The earliest Hitchcock films give you a glimpse into the director’s creative genius and technological innovation.
  • You get to see the themes and techniques that Hitchcock would expand upon once he arrived in Hollywood.

To watch the film on YouTube, click the link below.

To join the discussion on November 22, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an email invitation along with a link to the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions:
Does this remind you of any other Hitchcock films?
What did you think of the lead performances?
Did you see some themes that would crop up in future Hitchcock films?
Was anything surprising to you?

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Woody Strode is “Sergeant Rutledge”

Sergeant Rutledge (1960) is an American Western film directed by John Ford, starring Jeffrey Hunter, Constance Towers, and Woody Strode in the title role. Other actors in the supporting cast include Billie Burke and Juano Hernandez. Of all of Ford’s films, this may be the least well-known.

First Sgt. Braxton Rutledge (Strode) of the 9th U.S. Cavalry, which included several colored regiments during the late-19th century, is accused of killing his commanding officer Major Custis Dabney and the rape and murder of his daughter Lucy.

Circumstantial evidence piles up against Rutledge and his conduct, including deserting the Cavalry, make his guilt seem more certain than before. First Lt. Tom Cantrell (Hunter), also of the 9th Cavalry believes Rutledge to be innocent and defends him at trial.

Woody Strode, Jeffrey Hunter, Constance Towers

John Ford (1894 – 1946) was an American film director. Best known for his classic westerns. Ironically he won four Best Director Oscars for non-western films, a record that has yet to be equaled. Ford directed more than 140 films going back to the silent era. Orson Welles and Ingmar Bergman are among the many who consider Ford the greatest director of all time.

Jeffrey Hunter (1926 - 1969) was an American film and television actor. He was signed to a long-term contract by 20th Century-Fox in the early 1950s and the studio groomed him for stardom, starting him out in small roles, and eventually offering him lead roles alongside some of the studio’s top stars. He was in competition for roles at Fox with fellow contract player Robert Wagner. The top stardom didn’t come at Fox. Hunter was cast in the second lead of John Ford’s The Searchers (1956) supporting John Wayne on loan from Fox. He made another film with Ford, The Last Hurrah (1958) starring Spencer Tracy. He left Fox in 1960 and the following year starred in King of Kings (1961) in the role of Jesus Christ. The film was a box office hit and probably the film Hunter is most remembered for. Hunter continued to make films and appeared often on television. In 1964, Hunter starred as Captain Christopher Pike in “The Cage,” the first pilot for Star Trek. Hunter declined to make another pilot for Star Trek and was too expensive to have been its star when the show went into production. While filming a movie in Spain in 1968, Hunter suffered a severe concussion, leaving him unable to speak. While recovering, he fell down the stairs at his home and hit his head, knocking him unconscious. He died after undergoing brain surgery on May 27, 1969. He was only 42.

Constance Towers (1933 - ) is an American film, stage, and television actress, and singer. Towers was a child voice actress on the radio in her native Montana.  She got her start in film during the mid-1950s and then transitioned to acting in the theater, including many Broadway productions. Towers starred in revivals of Show Boat (1966) and as Anna in The King and I (1977 and 1978). Later in her career, she played Clarissa McCandless on the daytime drama Capitol (1982 to 1987). She also play the soap opera villain on General Hospital beginning in 1997. Towers has appeared on numerous television series including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Designing Women, Fraiser, The Rockford Files, L.A. Law, and Cold Case. She was married to actor John Gavin from 1974 until his death in 2018 at the age of 86.

Woody Strode (1914 - 1994) was an American athlete and actor. Strode played football at UCLA with Kenny Washington and Jackie Robinson in 1939. Strode made early film appearances in the early 1940s before the United States entered World War II. He was drafted at age 27 and served in the United States Army Air Corps. After the war, Strode resumed his acting career in the 1950s in mostly walk-on and/or supporting roles. In 1960 he was cast as the Ethiopian gladiator Draba in Sparticus receiving a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. Around this time he became friends with director John Ford. Ford would go on to cast Strode in the title role of Sergeant Rutledge against the studio which wanted either Sidney Poitier or Harry Belafonte. Strode’s film and television career continued steadily until his death in 1994 at the age of 80.

Sergeant Rutledge trivia:

  • John Ford got Woody Strode drunk to get a better performance out of him in a particular scene.
  • This was the third film Jeffrey Hunter made with John Ford.
  • Constance Towers starred alongside John Wayne and William Holden in The Horse Soldiers (1959), the year before she starred in Sergeant Rutledge.
  • Although well-received critically, the film was a box office disappointment.

To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.

To join in the discussion on November 15, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an email with an invitation and a link for the discussion on Zoom.

Why watch this film?

  • One of the earliest studio films to cast a black actor in a lead role.
  • It is a John Ford film that gets passed over when his work is reviewed and discussed.
  • The film has developed a higher profile over the decades since its release due to the subject matter which was ahead of its time.

Discussion questions:

  1. What was your overall impression of the film? Did you like the narrative flow?
  2. Did you think the film portrayed the time and setting accurately?
  3. Would you have cast another actor, i.e., Sidney Poitier or Harry Belefonte in the role of Rutledge?
  4. What did you make of the relationship between Rutledge and Cantrell? Between Rutledge and Mary Beecher?
  5. Do you think the film holds up today?
  6. Did anything surprise you?
  7. How does this film compare to other movies directed by John Ford?

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Hitchcock takes his last bow with “Family Plot”

Family Plot (1976) is a thriller comedy directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Karen Black, Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris, and William Devane. The supporting cast features Cathleen Nesbitt, Ed Lauter, and Katherine Helmond. The screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest, The Sound of Music), and the music was by John Williams.

The plot involves two couples: a fake psychic Blanch Tyler (Harris) and her cab-driver boyfriend George Lumley (Dern), the other couple are professional thieves and kidnappers (Devane and Black) and how their lives cross paths.

Blanch (Harris) is hired by Julia Rainbird to help find her nephew who was given up for adoption to avoid a family scandal. Little do Blanch and George realize that the man they are looking for, now known as Arthur Adamson (Devane), is a murderer, thief, and kidnapper! Arthur’s live-in girlfriend  Fran (Black) has cooperated with him on the kidnappings and thefts but is growing weary of their criminal lifestyle.

Will Arthur and Fran’s latest caper be successful or will Blanch and George get in the way?

Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980) was an English film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century. Hitchcock directed over 50 feature films, many are classics that have been honored and studied for years. Some of Hitchcock’s classic films include The 39 Steps (1939), Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Notorious (1946), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960).

Karen Black (1939 - 2013) was an American actress, singer, and songwriter. Black was born in Park Ridge, IL, and studied theater at Northwestern University. She eventually dropped out and moved to New York. She appeared on Broadway in 1965 and made her film debut the next year in Francis Ford Coppola’s You’re a Big Boy Now. She had supporting roles in Easy Rider (1969) and Five Easy Pieces (1970) which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She really hit her stride in the mid-1970s with starring roles in The Great Gatsby (1974), Airport 1975 (1974), Nashville (1975), and The Day of the Locust (1975). In Nashville, for her role as a country singer, Black wrote and sang her own songs. After her run in the 70s, Black concentrated on small, independent films and made a name for herself in science fiction and horror movies, starring in the remake of Invaders from Mars (1986) and House of 1000 Corpses (2003).

Bruce Dern (1936 - ) is an American film actor who often portrays characters who are either villainous, unstable, or both. He has twice been nominated for Academy Awards. Dern worked steadily in films from 1960 to the present. One of his early roles was that of a sailor in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) and as John Mayhew in Robert Aldrich’s horror classic Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). Dern was in high demand as a character actor, often making five movies a year. Some other movies that featured Dern include Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969), Silent Running (1972), The Great Gatsby (1974), Black Sunday (1977), and Coming Home (1978). He is the father of actress Laura Dern.

Barbara Harris (1935 - 2018) was an American actress. Harris starred on Broadway, television, and film. She created the role of Daisy Gamble in the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1965). She had roles on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Naked City, and The Defenders. Harris’s first screen role was in A Thousand Clowns (1965) co-starring Jason Robards. Other films include Plaza Suite (1971), The War Between Men and Women (1972), Nashville (1975), and Freaky Friday (1976).

William Devane (1939 - ) is an American film, television, and stage actor. He is probably best known for portraying Greg Sumner on the primetime soap Knot’s Landing (1983 - 1993). Other television roles include 24 (2001 - 201), and 24: Live Another Day (2014). Devane also had film roles in Marathon Man (1976), Rolling Thunder (1977), Yanks (1979), and Space Cowboys (2000).

Bruce Dern

To watch the film on YouTube, click the link below.

Family Plot trivia:

  • Hitchcock wanted to cast Al Pacino as George, but he was too expensive. Jack Nicholson was also considered for the role of George but was unavailable due to filming One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest (1975).
  • Roy thinnes was originally cast as Arthur Adamson but was fired when William Devane (Hitchcock’s first choice) became available. Burt Reynolds and Roy Scheider were also considered for the role of Arthur Adamson.
  • Cathleen Nesbitt’s character says she’s 78, but she was almost 88 at the time of filming. 
  • Lillian Gish wanted to play the role of Julia Rainbird.
  • Liza Minnelli and Goldie Hawn were considered for the role of Blanche.

Publicity shot with Roy Thinnes (top right) who was eventually replaced with William Devane

Final cast publicity shot with William Devane replacing Roy Thinnes (first row left).

Why watch this movie?

  • It’s Hitchcock’s final film.
  • It showcases the talents of Karen Black, Barbara Harris, Bruce Dern, and William Devane.
  • Even though Hitchcock was in his late-70s when he directed this film, it shows he was still in control of his craft.
  • It reunited Hitchcock with screenwriter Ernest Lehman.

To join the discussion on November 8 at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation and link to join the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions:

  1. This was Hitchcock’s last movie. How do you think it ranks among his films?
  2. What did you think of the performances? Did any one performance stand out to you?
  3. Did you have a favorite scene or piece of dialogue?
  4. Were there any scenes in this film that reminded you of other Hitchcock movies?
  5. How would you classify this movie? Comedy? Drama? Something else?

William Devane and Karen Black

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Dick Powell and Linda Darnell in “It Happened Tomorrow”

It Happened Tomorrow (1944) is an American fantasy film directed by Rene Clair, starring Dick Powell, Linda Darnell, and Jack Oakie. This was Clair’s fourth of five films he made in Hollywood.

Lawrence Stevens (Powell) writes obituaries for the local paper but he dreams of writing important, hard news stories. An old newspaperman named Pop Bensen (John Philliber) gives Stevens a newspaper with tomorrow’s news. This unusual event allows Stevens to write stories, scooping the other reporters and newspapers. Along the way, he meets Oscar Smith (Oakie) and Sylvia Smith (Darnell) an uncle and niece clairvoyant act.

At first, knowing future events is exciting and helps move Stevens along in his career. But as time goes by, he discovers knowing the future isn’t what’s cracked up to be.

Dick Powell and Linda Darnell

Rene Clair (1898 - 1981) was a French film director and writer. He directed silent films in his native France but was lured to Hollywood where he directed five films. His first American film was The Flame of New Orleans (1941) starring Marlene Dietrich. The film was not a success and it would be a year before he made another American film. His most popular American film was And Then There Were None (1945) based on Agatha Christie’s novel of the same name. After World War II, Clair returned to France where he was considered one of that country’s best film directors.

Dick Powell (1904 - 1963) was an American actor, singer, producer, and director. He began his movie career in musicals and comedies but eventually toughened up his image in the mid-1940s where he became a popular star of films noir. He was the first actor to portray Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet (1944). After appearing in his last film, Susan Slept Here, Powell started directing. In the 1950s he was one of the founders of Four Star Television along with Charles Boyer, David Niven, and Ida Lupino. Some popular films starring Powell include 42nd Street (1933), A Midsummer's Night Dream (1935), Christmas in July (1940), Pitfall (1948), and The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).

Linda Darnell (1923 – 1965) was an American film actress. She signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox at age 15 and became a star almost overnight. She was immediately cast opposite Tyrone Power in Day-Time Wife (1939). She made two films with Power in 1940: Brigham Young and The Mark of Zorro. In 1941, she was again paired with Power in Blood and Sand, which also starred an up-and-coming Rita Hayworth. Darnell’s most famous role was that of Amber St. Clair in Forever Amber (1946), which turned out the be the biggest hit of the year. The role of Amber was the most sought-after female role since the casting of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). Other important films she starred in include Unfaithfully Yours (1948), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), and No Way Out (1950). She died tragically at age 41 in a fire while visiting friends in Glenview, Illinois.

Jack Oakie (1903 - 1978) was an American film actor who also appeared on the stage and radio. He is probably most famous for portraying Napaloni in Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1940). Oakie began his film career during the silent era but had no problem when sound was introduced. After fulfilling his seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures in 1934, Oakie decided to freelance, not being attached to any one studio. He was very successful as a freelancer appearing in popular films like The Call of the Wild (1935), The Toast of New York (1937), Tin Pan Alley (1940), Hello Frisco, Hello (1943), Thieves Highway (1949), and Around the World in 80 Days (1959).

It Happened Tomorrow trivia

  • Frank Capra owned the rights to the film but sold them to producer Arnold Pressburger when he entered the U.S. Army during World War II.
  • Jack Oakie reworked his dialogue throughout the film which didn’t bother director Clair at all.
  • Cary Grant was originally considered for the role of Lawrence Stevens.
  • The opera singer alluded to in the film is most likely Nellie Melba; Peach Melba and Melba toast are named for her.
  • Inspiration for the television show Early Edition.

To watch the film on YouTube, click the link below.

Why watch this film?

  • It features Dick Powell in a non-singing role before he turned “touch guy” as Philip Marlow in Murder, My Sweet the same year.
  • We have another fantasy film from Clair, two years after I Married a Witch (1942).
  • The film features the popular and busy character actors working in Hollywood Jack Oakie and Edgar Kennedy.
  • Linda Darnell has a fairly good role as Sylvia Smith on loan out from her home studio, 20th Century-Fox.

To join the discussion on Monday, November 1, 2021, at 7:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you will get an invitation and link to the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions:

  1. Do you think this lighthearted film has a serious message? If so, what is it?
  2. What did you think of Dick Powell’s performance in the lead? Do you think his casting was a good choice?
  3. How do you think this film compares to Clair’s I Married a Witch?
  4. Did you have a favorite character and/or scene from the movie?
  5. Did you have a problem with Oakie’s portrayal as “The Great Gigolini”

Friday, October 22, 2021

Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival returns in 2022

The Turner Classic Movies Film Festival (TCMFF) returns to an in-person event April 21 - 24, 2022. For the last two years, the festival has been virtual.

The festival theme is “Back to the Big Screen.”


Passes for the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival are set to go on sale to the public in November 2021. Fans will be able to purchase them exclusively through the TCM Classic Film Festival website. The number of passes available is limited, especially for top-level passes. As an expression of how excited we are to reunite with Festival fans in Hollywood, TCM is offering a special one-time Early Bird discount window on 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival passes. The dates for this discounted purchase window will be announced in the coming weeks via the TCM Classic Film Festival email newsletter. If you are not signed up to receive our TCM Classic Film Festival emails, click here to sign up today and select TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL. 

The “Spotlight” Festival Pass: $2,449 (Early Bird), $2,549 (Regular) – Includes all privileges available to “Classic” and “Essential” pass holders, plus priority entry to all screening events; entry to the exclusive Opening Night Gala party following the Opening Night red carpet screening at TCL Chinese Theatre; “meet and greet” events with TCM hosts and special guests; and a limited edition TCM Classic Film Festival poster. 

The “Essential” Festival Pass: $999 (Early Bird), $1,099 (Regular) – Includes all privileges available to “Classic” pass holders, plus entry to the Opening Night red carpet screening at TCL Chinese Theatre and a gift bag of official TCM Classic Film Festival collectibles. 

The “Classic” Festival Pass: $749 (Early Bird), $849 (Regular) – Includes four-day access to film programs at all Festival venues Thursday, April 21 – Sunday, April 24 (does not include admittance to the Opening Night red carpet screening at TCL Chinese Theatre or the Opening Night Gala party); access to all Club TCM events, panels and poolside screenings at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; an Opening Night Welcome Reception at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; and the Closing Night event. 

The “Palace” Festival Pass: $349 (Early Bird), $399 (Regular) – Includes three-day access to screenings Friday, April 22 – Sunday, April 24 at all Festival screening venues, excluding the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres Multiplex and Club TCM. The Palace pass does not grant entry at any time to TCL Chinese 6 Theatres multiplex screenings, Club TCM events or official parties/receptions. This pass does not grant entry to any screening venue prior to Friday, April 22.

For complete festival information, click here.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney find out “Where the Sidewalk Ends”

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) is an American film noir directed and produced by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney. The screenplay was written by Ben Hecht and the cinematography was by Joseph LaShelle.

Mark Dixon (Andrews) is a tough New York City cop who was demoted due to excessive force in the line of duty. During a routine investigation with a witness to a crime (a possible murder), things go terribly wrong. When Dixon questions Ken Paine (Craig Stevens), a drunk Paine becomes angry and starts a fight. Defending himself, Dixon punches Paine who falls and hits his head, killing him instantly. In a panic, because of his recent demotion and fearing his career would be over if he told his superiors, Dixon disposes of Paine’s body. 

Paine’s estranged wife, model Morgan Taylor (Tierney), is brought in for questioning because she too was a possible witness to the murder. Morgan’s husband used her as “bait” to lure a Texas tycoon to a floating crap game at mobster Tommy Scalise’s (Gary Merrill) apartment. The tycoon ends up dead and it looks like Scalise was trying to pin it on Paine. When circumstantial evidence gets Morgan’s father (Tom Tully) arrested for the murder of his son-in-law, Dixon finds himself with a moral dilemma, complicated by his attraction to Morgan.

Will Dixon come clean and face the consequences or will he let Morgan’s father take the fall?

Otto Preminger (1905 -1986) was an American film director who made more than 35 feature films during a five-decade career. Born in Austro-Hungarian into a Jewish family. Preminger was drawn to acting from an early age and became the apprentice of famed stage director Max Reinhardt. In 1935, he was recruited by Twentieth Century-Fox to apprentice as a director at the studio. After a rocky start, Preminger established himself as an A-list director after Rouben Mamoulian was fired from Laura (1944). The film noir classic made major stars of Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews and is considered one of the best film noirs of all time. While under contract to Fox, Preminger directed Fallen Angel (1945), Centennial Summer (1946), Forever Amber (1947), and Daisy Kenyon (1947). After he left Fox, Preminger became a maverick, constantly clashing with members of the Production Code. He released two films without the approval of the Production Code: The Moon is Blue (1953) and The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). Both films were financial successes and helped bring an end to the Code entirely. Later successes for Preminger include Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and Exodus (1960).

Dana Andrews (1909 – 1992) was an American stage, film, and television actor. During the 1940s, Andrews was a major star and leading man starring in Laura (1944), State Fair (1945), A Walk in the Sun (1945), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Canyon Passage (1946), Boomerang! (1947), and Daisy Kenyon (1947), the latter co-starring Joan Crawford and Henry Fonda. During the 1950s, film roles were harder to come by, but he had success in Elephant Walk (1954) co-starring Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Finch, While the City Sleeps (1956), and Curse of the Demon (1957). In 1958 he replaced Henry Fonda on Broadway in Two for the Seesaw. Andrews worked a lot on television guest-starring on shows like The Twilight Zone, Checkmate, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Ben Casey, The Love Boat, Ironside, and Falcon Crest. He also starred in the daytime soap opera Bright Promise (1969 - 1971).

Gene Tierney (1920 – 1991) was an American actress. Tierney got her start on the stage where she played the ingenue lead in The Male Animal. She was spotted by 20th Century-Fox Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck and he offered her a movie contract. Zanuck said that Tierney was the most beautiful woman in the movies. Tierney proved that she could carry a film not completely based on her beauty in films like Laura (1944) and Leave Her To Heaven (1945) for which she was nominated for her first and only Best Actress Academy Award. Other important films include The Razor’s Edge (1946), Dragonwyck (1946)The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), The Iron Curtain (1948), Whirlpool (1949), and The Mating Season (1951). In the late 1940s, she struggled with mental illness which negatively affected her career. After 1955’s The Left Hand of God, Tierney was off the screen until Advice & Consent (1962). She appeared in two films after that, but her career in film effectively ended in 1964 after a guest appearance in The Pleasure Seekers.

Where the Side Walk Ends trivia:
  • This was the last film director Otto Preminger directed under contract to 20th Century-Fox.
  • It reunited Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, cinematographer Joseph LaShelle, and Preminger who all worked on the classic film noir Laura (1944). 
  • Andrews and Tierney starred in five films together; this was their last.
  • Designer Oleg Cassini, who was married to Gene Tierney at the time, has a small role as a fashion designer in the film. While the two were married, Cassini designed many of the film costumes for Tierney.
  • Craig Stevens who played Ken Paine went on to fame on the small screen in the television series Peter Gunn.
  • Otto Preminger made more films with Dana Andrews more than any other actor; the two made five films together.

To watch the film on YouTube, click the link below.

Why watch this film?
The film has a reputation as one of the first, if not the first, of the “bad cop” films.
Dana Andrews delivers a great multi-layered performance as Dixon.
Otto Preminger was a master of the film noir genre and this is one of his best.
It’s the last time Andrews and Gene Tierney appeared together on film.

To join the discussion on October 25, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation with a link to join the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions:
  1. What did you make of  Dixon’s character? Were you rooting for or against him?
  2. How do you think the director handled the subject matter? Was it believable?
  3. Did anything in the film surprise you?
  4. The film had some amazing character actors. Did you have a  favorite?
  5. Was the chemistry between Andrews and Tierney believable?
  6. Did the film end the way you expected it to? Did you find it satisfying?

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