Agatha Christie, queen of murder mysteries, was not only the brain child behind notorious sleuths like Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, and Tommy and Tuppence, she is also the best selling author of all time . She wrote 78 crime novels, six other novels, 150 short stories, four non-fiction books and 19 plays.
Thankfully TCM is also reminding us of her genius via film on July 21st with 5 movies, including Tyrone Power’s Witness for the Prosecution, and Peter Ustinov in Evil Under the Sun. If you want to see more Agatha on film, checkout the Warner Archive- they’ve just begun to release this collection.
Murder at the Gallop
Remembering James Garner
April 7, 1928 ~ July 19, 2014
Lafayette Escadrille, The Thrill of It All, Duel at Diablo
1927 was the first year of the Academy Awards and Film makers were still obsessed about telling the stories of the First World War that a lot of the Writers, Directors, and Actors had witnessed firsthand and survived. Outstanding Picture went to Wings, directed by William Wellman who had flown during the war with the Lafayette Escadrille. Janet Gaynor received the first Best Actress Award for the WWI dramatic romance 7th Heaven. Frank Borzage received the Best Director Award for the same movie, 7th Heaven. And to round out the WWI theme Lewis Milestone received the Best Director Award for a Comedy movie titled Two Arabian Knights about two doughboys captured by the Germans and their escapades attempting to escape from their captors. If you are going to learn about WWI Silent movies are the place to start.
July 14, 1915 ~ March 22, 2001
Happy Belated Birthday Toby!
Kiss and Make-Up, 42nd Street, Murder at the Vanities
There is no doubt in my mind that if there had been an Academy Awards Association in 1925 when the WWI silent movie The Big Parade was made that either the movie or John Gilbert would have received some kind of nomination or award. John Gilbert over time seems to have gotten a bad rap when films went from Silent to Talkies. After watching his talent in the Greta Garbo 1933 talkie Queen Christina I am baffled by the derisive comments about him that have been written throughout the years. I think with a newer generation seeing The Big Parade through fresh eyes his talents will gain a new appreciation.
TCM will be remembering, as we all should, the 100th Anniversary of the war to end all wars, WWI on Friday nights in July. It was a war to end all wars because of the weapons of war unleashed that hadn’t been used before on such a large scale. Machine guns, airplanes, blimps and worst of the worse the use of mustard gas…
If you are up for an interesting read about the background of this war that explains a lot of familial details that won’t totally put you to sleep read the book King, Kaiser, Tsar -Three Royal Cousins who led the world to war by Catrine Clay. Then sit back and watch the Friday night lineups. Some are silent movies that were made right after the war about the futility of war, others have to do with the: above and beyond bravery type film, the loss of propriety during war film, or the do as I say because I said it even though lives will be lost unnecessarily mentality type of film based on true accounts from the war front.
War is Hell someday we will learn from history in real life but for now we can sit back and watch the likes of: John Gilbert, Douglass Montgomery, Robert Taylor, Lew Ayres, Gary Cooper and Peter O’Toole give us the low down on how bad that first World War really was.
There is no better example of the Battling Burtons than this great Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton movie, The Taming of the Shrew. It is an entertaining version of Shakespeare’s classic play. The sparks fly between the two actors. The Supporting cast is a who’s who of great British actors; Michael York, Michael Hordern, Cyril Cusack, Victor Spinetti to name a few. The musical score by Nino Rota is fun and unforgettable, the costuming is magnificent. Franco Zeffirelli’s original version that was released in the movie theatres was butchered by some dufus towards the end of the film to make way for commercial breaks when first released for television viewing and was never restored when the movie was converted to DVD.
I hope someday, someone will find the lost footage and restore the scene where Petruchio shows Katerina that he has already had the milliner make her a beautiful crimson and brown velvet dress highlighted by the gold headress, worthy of a Queen to wear back to her younger sister Bianca’s wedding celebration. That missing scene sets up all that transpires between Katarina and Petruchio after his outburst over the ‘unfashionable fashions’ scene that rationalizes the actions of the characters from that moment on until the ending of the film. Me thinks, Elizabeth, Richard and Mr. Zeffirelli(who is still with us) would like all of you film buffs and historians out there to seek, find and restore that missing film footage of the original theatrical release version so that this movie can be enjoyed as initially edited. I wonder what version TCM will be showing tonight?
Kicking off Tuesdays in July with TCM’s Star of the Month Maureen O’Hara we get to see her in 26 films this month. Most known for her Irish heritage and Red Hair, she commanded the screen almost instantly. She started at the top and stayed there her entire career.
With just two small films under her belt in 1938, she immediately took to the screen in 1939 with Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn and as Esmerelda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, both opposite superstar Charles Laughton.
Was this good fortune just the Luck o’ the Irish?
Neither! A firm background in the performing arts, and operatic singing, she was already accepted into the famed Abbey Theater just at the age of 14, before Charles Laughton discovered her ( and her haunting eyes).
He wasn’t of course the only man mesmerized with Maureen. Voted one of the top 5 most beautiful women in the world, she was blessed with everything. And we’re so grateful that she was able to share her beauty, talents, and life with us. Thanks Maureen- much love to you:)
Happy Birthday Ray!
June 29, 1920 ~ May 7, 2013
One Million Years B.C., Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Clash of the Titans