Cagney, the Musical: Exclusive Interview with Robert Creighton

Made it Ma! Top of the World!
“Cagney” Interview with Star and Co-Author Robert Creighton

It would be no exaggeration to say that I was on ‘top of the world’ when I left the Westside Theatre in NYC after seeing the musical, Cagney. The show was exhilarating, and I walked out of the theater on cloud nine, smiling from ear to ear. What an all-around good time it was! And I will add here, that my ‘plus one’ was my mother, who is a Senior Citizen that takes her classic movies very seriously, and who was very worried that the cast was going to ‘botch things up’… Well, I am happy to report that, about 10 minutes into the show, my mother was elbowing me and whispering — wow, the actor who plays Cagney is GREAT!

So, there you have it… From mother and daughter, the reviews are in: thumbs up on the acting, thumbs up on the singing, thumbs up on the dancing, thumbs up on the music — and an exceptional thumbs up for the star and co-author of the show, Robert Creighton.

the company of Cagney the musical

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The Interview

That said, after the show, I decided that I just had to interview Robert, so I circled back around to the Cagney office to ask if Robert could squeeze in some time for us, and they made it happen. So a Big Thank You to Cagney, and to Robert Creighton who so graciously and generously spent some time chatting with us for this exclusive 20-minute YouTube interview.

Robert Creighton sits and chats with us before showtime :)

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So, for all my fellow classic movie friends and fans — if you’re ever in the NYC area, you can see the show at the Westside Theatre at 407 W 43rd Street. For more information, you can follow Cagney on Twitter at @CagneyMusical and Robert on Twitter  @RCreightonNYC.  Last but not least, you can buy tickets here at Telecharge.  Again, highly recommended…

But that’s not all… thanks to our friends at Cagney, we have a special coupon code offer for you. Use code CGLSP59 for 33% off tickets, valid for performances through January 8, 2017.

Cagney the Musical Coupon Code good through March 5, 2017

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Last but not least, you can buy the fabulous soundtrack (I loved the songs from the show) on amazon via this link:

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Hope you enjoyed the interview.

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Interviews, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Children of Divorce (1927) DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest (via Facebook/Blog in December)

Children of Divorce DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway!
Qualifying Entry Task for Facebook/Blog

Okay, now it’s time for the Facebook/Blog version of our Children of Divorce DVD/Blu-Ray giveaway contest, courtesy of Flicker Alley, in which we’ll be giving away one copy of this silent classic. And, don’t forget, we’re also giving away FIVE MORE copies via Twitter this month as well, so please feel free to enter that contest too…

In order to qualify to win this collection via this Facebook/Blog contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, December 31 at 8PM ESTWe will pick one winner via a random drawing and announce the winner on Facebook and on this Blog the day after the contest ends (Sunday January 1).

If you’re also on Twitter, please feel free to visit us at  @ClassicMovieHub for additional giveaways — because we’ll be giving away FIVE MORE sets there as well! (Click here for twitter contest details as well as more information about the collection.)

CMH Children of Divorce DVD contest

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ENTRY TASK to be completed by Saturday, December 31 at 8PM EST…

Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

THE QUESTION:
What is it about Clara Bow or Gary Cooper, or their films, that you enjoy or respect most? 

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas...@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

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You can read more about the DVD here…. And here is a sneak peak via the official trailer:

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Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the DVD/Blu-Ray, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | 15 Comments

The Agnes Moorehead Blogathon: A Silent Desperation

 

Agnes Moorehead in All That Heaven Allows
A Silent Desperation 

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” The quote’s probably Henry Thoreau’s most famous, and lies at the center of Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows. Like much of Douglas Sirk’s “greatest hits,” the film is a highly glossed and succinct critique of American bourgeois values masquerading as romantic melodrama. It examines the pressures, contradictions, and sheer hypocrisy faced by women in a patriarchal society. The plot is simple: recently widowed Cary (Jane Wyman), falls in love with her younger and much poorer handyman, Ron Kirby (Rock Hudson). Although the pair love each other, their class and age difference creates quite the scandal in her world of small town suburbia, leading Cary to a difficult choice: play the role society expects of her or choose her own path, even if it means rejecting the comfortable life she knows.  And, while the film concentrates on the quiet desperation of Jane Wyman’s character Cary, chronicling her journey from the tight confines of suburban society to the freedom of living for the self, I want to focus on another character held firm by the trappings of American suburban culture: Sara Warren, played brilliantly by the wonderful Agnes Moorehead.

agnes-moorehead-on-setRock Hudson, Jane Wyman, director Douglas Sirk and our gal Agnes Moorehead on the set of All That Heaven Allows

The introduction to Sara is quick. She is the first character to speak and the first character to interact with the film’s protagonist, Cary. It’s through Sara that we get our first glimpse at the constrictive environment the two women inhabit. Their ladies’ lunch is cancelled because Sara’s husband last minute guest of honor has forced her into a situation where she must host a “club party,” leaving her with no time for her previous engagement with her friend. And with that exchange we are introduced to the film’s underlying theme: external societal expectations vs. personal desire – that “quiet desperation” I was talking about earlier.

While Cary learns the depths of her own quiet desperation through her interactions with Rob and his friends, Sara is fascinating to watch because she seems to have accepted her own “quiet desperation” a long time ago. Throughout the film we get the impression that she is well aware of her own quiet desperation, and with that knowledge, works within its confines. She would never dream of turning her back as a pillar of the community, even if it’s a position she doesn’t actually enjoy. What I love about Moorehead’s performance in the film is the almost unconscious duality she brings to the role of Sara. Sure, she’s a card-carrying member of cocktail society and accepts her role, but she also seems to harbor a certain distain for it well. She is the only “society” character in the film to try and understand Cary’s motivations in her relationship with Ron Kirby, yet at the same time she tries to manipulate the situation in a way that conforms to their cultural norms. There is both a genuine sympathy in Moorehead’s performance and an unintentional smothering that is representative of the highly constrictive society she and Cary belong to. Just take a look at their first scene together.

agnes-moorehead-opening-sceneBut take a second to just look at those glorious Technicolor eyes. I’m currrently lost in them…

While explaining her predicament with the club party, Sara tells Cary, “Sometimes I think you’re smart for not being a club woman.” Although it seems like a simple offhand remark made in response to her mounting responsibilities, it also reveals an understanding of how much of her time is occupied by the club and its members – how much she must sacrifice in order to “keep up appearances”. The statement also shows a certain understanding into her friend’s ungregarious behavior. Despite this ability to empathize with her friend’s understandable anti-social behavior (she is a recent widow, after all), Sara ultimately invites Cary to the very club dinner she was just complaining about. Cary initially refuses but Sara will not take no for an answer and politely but firmly states she already has a date lined up for the recent widow.

In this scene Moorehead has a tricky task. Not only must she introduce the films theme and early exposition about the protagonist, she also must act as an understanding empathetic friend and external societal force. She plays it small and contained, reacting to Wyman’s expressive acting more so than creating her own emotions.  If you think about it, Sara’s actions in the scene are actually rather distasteful. She’s canceling lunch with her friend then coercing Cary to go to a party she clearly doesn’t want to attend.  However, her gentle tone and empathetic reactions paint Sara in a positive light and gives shape to what could be a clueless character. Already, you get a sense that Sara is a good person but is trapped in the confines of her world. All of her actions are dictated by the expectations of her bourgeois surroundings, even her acts of friendship. However, just because she follows the rules of society, doesn’t mean she likes them. This can clearly be seen at that last minute party.

agnes-moorehead-party-scene

I’m pretty sure Moorehead is contemplating just how inappropriate it would be to “accidental trip” her

Here, we see Sara in her element. She’s the beautiful wife, gracious hostess, and all-around pillar of the community. Basically the picture perfect Americana wife. In the scene she once again plays the sympathetic friend to Cary’s nervous energy, taking her by the hand and introducing her to all the VIPS. But then Mona, the town’s number one source of all things gossips, prances into the conversation uninvited. Honestly, Sara’s scenes with Mona are some of my favorite in the film because I find her quiet contempt for Mona’s brand of gossipy small talk simply delicious. She completely nails that carefully confined “nice” hatred only a 1950s melodrama could produce. She doesn’t scold Mona or kick her out – that wouldn’t fly in polite society, however, the hatred is palpable. With nothing but a slew of accusatory glances and a tone of bitter disbelief, Sara makes her feelings towards Mona clear without ever outright confronting her.

This contempt of Mona becomes even more interesting when you consider Mona’s function in the film. Sure, she’s the town gossip but more than that, she acts as an agent of fear that keeps everyone “in line”, so to speak. If Mona sees a person act in way that’s contrary to the country club range of acceptable behavior, soon the whole town will know. Mona is the all-seeing eye of moral judgment that is attached to a very big and very loud mouth. So, beyond having contempt for Mona on a personal level, Sara’s feeling for Mona also represent her relationship to her surroundings in general. Although Sara has a clear distain for Mona, she will never truly confront her toxic presence. Perhaps even more than her friendship with Cary, Sara’s cold relationship with Mona represents her suburban duality – that quiet desperation of accepted duty and passive distain.

And while Sara’s relationship with Mona best demonstrates her duality as a character, Moorehead’s best acting scene is when she finds out about Cary’s relationship with Ron.

agnes-moorehead-kitchen-scene

I can feel the awkward from over here

When Cary confirms her relationship with Ron to Sara, she basically can’t even believe it. It goes contrary to everything she knows about her dear friend and against every rule of polite society. A rich older widower with a younger, poor man? Say it ain’t so.

A this moment Sara is basically in full “country club woman”-mode, and for the first time, appears to have some certain contempt for Cary’s actions. She recites the myriad of reasons why a relationship with Ron is a bad idea, with all of them, of course, stemming from the bourgeois values Sara allows to dictate her life and basically amount to the notion of: “What will people say?” I must say that this is probably the biggest “Agnes Moorehead” moment in the film. Her tone, her posture, and her face are all stern, cold and far more judgmental than we’ve seen throughout her performance. In Sara’s own words she admits that “Maybe I’m a snob.” But when Cary makes her intentions to marry Rob clear, Sara softens. And as quickly as she became the stern voice of societal reason, she reverts back to the friend with soft eyes and a big heart. She then tries to remedy the situation the only way she knows how: through the country club.

Yes, instead of just simply accepting Cary’s decision and letting it end there, Sara must make sure it’s done with approval of their small social circle. Rather than live with the uncomfortable nature of Cary’s relationship with a younger and less privileged man, Sara tries to spin the situation in a way that would bring Ron into the fold and invites him to the clubhouse dinner. Unlike Cary, Sara refuses to exist outside the confines of country club society and tries to assimilate those around her rather than accept that perhaps some people are just different.

What I love about this scene is that it shows just how much Sara is shaped by her surroundings. Despite her clearly empathetic and kind nature, she just cannot allow herself to go against the grain of society. Yet, at the same time, she fully admits the only thing really keeping Cary from enjoying her new love life is the toxicity of those they surround themselves with. Sara tells Cary “You’ve got stubbornness…and courage.” I personally think this is one of Sara’s defining lines in the film, revealing her true feelings not only about Cary but also about herself. Cary has the gall to stand up to the gossip-mongers in town and defy the rules of “polite society.” Sara, despite her clear contempt of it, does not.  Cary is able to overcome that quiet desperation in her life with the added weight of the town watching her. Sara, on the other hand, will never overcome her life of quiet desperation. Cary has courage whereas Sara has conformity. Sara will continue to host predicable club parties for predicable club people until her desperation is so smothered by her bourgeois surroundings that not a peep of it will be heard. Sara will live a life of silent desperation.

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A Big Thank You to In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for hosting this wonderful event! There are so many more wonderful Classic Bloggers participating in this Blogathon so please be sure to check out the other entries.

–Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Blogathons, Posts by Minoo Allen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kino Lorber Studio Classics DVD and Blu-Ray Holiday Giveaway (via Twitter December)

A Happy Holidays to All from Kino Lorber and Classic Movie Hub!
DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway, Winner’s Choice of 8 Classic Titles

Contest is over and we have our ten winners… Congratulations to Shelia, Jo, Freeman, Heather, Ellie, Laurie, Mark, David G, David H and John L!

In celebration of the Holiday Season, we will be giving away a total of 12 Classic DVDs/Blu-Rays, courtesy of Kino Lorber! Kino has so graciously offered us a selection of eight titles to choose from… so that each winner will be able to pick their own prize from that list! So get ready, winners, for some tough choices :)

That said, right now we’ll be giving away 10 prizes via this Twitter version of the contest (another blog post will follow later this week, in which we’ll be giving away 2 more prizes via our Facebook/Blog version of the contest).

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this Twitter contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, January 7 at 10PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick two winners on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • December 10: Two Winners
  • December 17: Two Winners
  • December 24: Two Winners
  • December 31: Two Winners
  • January 7: Two Winners

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub (or this blog, depending how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 10PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday December 11 at 10PM EST.

If you’re also on Facebook, please feel free to visit us at Classic Movie Hub on Facebook for additional giveaways (or check back on this Blog in a few days) — because we’ll be giving away TWO MORE prizes via Facebook/Blog as well!

Here are the titles up for grabs:

  • The Vikings (1958) starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine and Janet Leigh (Blu-Ray or DVD)
  • Marty (1955) Academy Award Winning Film starring Ernest Borgnine (Blu-Ray or DVD)
  • British Noir (Five Film Collection: They Met in the Dark, The October Man, Snowbound, The Golden Salamander, The Assasin) (DVD only)
  • Moby Dick (1956) directed by John Huston, starring Gregory Peck (DVD only)
  • Gog 3D (1956) 3D Sci-Fi Classic directed by Herbert L. Strock (Blu-Ray only)
  • Witness for the Prosecution (1957) directed by Billy Wilder, starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton (Blu-Ray or DVD)
  • Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) Silent Classic starring Louise Books (Blu-Ray or DVD)
  • Phantom of the Opera (1925) Silent Classic starring Lon Chaney (Blu-Ray or DVD)

For more information about these titles, scroll way down below…

Kino Lorber Studio Classics Coupon Code CMHDEC …..

ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, January 7 at 10PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message:
Just entered to win the “Kino Lorber Studio Classics” #DVDGiveaway courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @KinoLorber

THE QUESTION:
What Classic Movies would you want Santa Claus to leave in your holiday stocking this year? 

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

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Also — Just for CMH Fans!!! Use our exclusive Kino Lorber Coupon Code CMHDEC for an extra 10% off the sale prices of titles on the Kino Lorber website, The Offer is valid through December 31, 2016, so that gives you plenty of time to peruse and use :)

Kino Lorber Studio Classics Coupon Code CMHDEC

You can visit Kino Lorber on their website, on Twitter at @KinoLorber or on Facebook.

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

For complete rules, click here.

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About the Films:

The Vikings: A Spectacular and Brawling Adventure! Hollywood legends Kirk Douglas (The Devils Disciple), Tony Curtis (Taras Bulba), Ernest Borgnine (Marty) and Janet Leigh (Psycho) dazzle in this epic chronicle of brutal rivalry and bloodthirsty ambition. Roaring through the 9th century with powerful performances and brilliant visuals, The Vikings is a riveting spectacle. Bitter hatred divides two brothers. Prince Einar (Douglas) is the son and heir of a savage Viking chieftain. Prince Eric (Curtis) is his unknowing half-brother, the bastard offspring of Einar’s father and an English queen. When the Vikings kidnap a princess Morgana (Leigh), her beauty inflames the desires of both men, forcing a bloody duel that decides their fate… and the future of the English throne. Beautifully shot by the great Jack Cardiff (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes) and wonderfully directed by legendary filmmaker Richard Fleischer (Mr. Majestyk, The Spikes Gang). The stellar cast also includes James Donald (The Great Escape) and Alexander Knox (Wilson) ; Narrated by Orson Welles (Touch of Evil).

Marty: Mastered in HD – “I’ve been looking for a girl every Saturday night of my life,” says Marty Piletti (Ernest Borgnine, The Wild Bunch). Yet, despite all his efforts, this 34- year old Bronx butcher remains as shy and uncomfortable around women today as on the day he was born. So when he meets Clara (Betsy Blair), a lonely schoolteacher who’s just as smitten with him as he is with her, Marty’s on top of the world. But not everyone around him shares Marty’s joy. And when his friends and family continually find fault with Clara, even Marty begins to question his newfound love – until he discovers, in an extraordinary way, the strength and courage to follow his heart. Winner of 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director (Delbert Mann, Separate Tables), Actor (Borgnine) and Screenplay (Paddy Chayefsky, Network).

British Noir (Five Film Collection): While the film noir movement may seem like a distinctly American phenomenon, British studios embarked on their own shadowy thrillers, laced with postwar cynicism. This five-DVD collection assembles some of the lesser-known Brit noir titles from the Rank Studios, featuring such major talents as actors James Mason, Trevor Howard, and John Mills; and directors Ronald Neame and Roy Ward Baker.  THEY MET IN THE DARK (1943): Discharged for treason, a former Navy Commander (James Mason) sets out to expose the espionage ring that destroyed his career – Directed by Carl Lamac. THE OCTOBER MAN (1947): After a traumatic brain injury, a young engineer (John Mills) tries to repair his life. But his recovery is thwarted when a woman (Kay Walsh) is found strangled-and he becomes the prime suspect – Directed by Roy Ward Baker. SNOWBOUND (1948): A British Army vet (Dennis Price) exposes a plot by ex-Nazis to reclaim a stash of gold bullion hidden at a ski resort. This edition was derived from a master suffering from moderate deterioration and is presented in a less-than-ideal condition – the stellar cast included Robert Newton, Herbert Lom and Stanley Holloway – Directed by David MacDonald. THE GOLDEN SALAMANDER (1950): A British archaeologist (Trevor Howard) finds himself caught between a gang of North African gun-runners and the woman he loves (Anouk Aimee) – the top-notch cast included Herbert Lom and Wilfrid-Hyde White – Directed by Ronald Neame. THE ASSASSIN (aka Venetian Bird) (1952): A private eye (Richard Todd) arrives in Venice in search of a fugitive, but soon discovers that the city’s winding waterways hold dark secrets – Directed by Ralph Thomas.

Moby Dick: Mastered in HD! (One of the great motion pictures of our time!) The New York Times – This spectacular retelling of Herman Melville’s classic, masterfully directed by John Huston (The Unforgiven), is unsurpassed in entertainment, imagination and high adventure. From the screenplay by Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) and Huston, Moby Dick is a brilliant film – consumed by an insane rage, Captain Ahab (Gregory Peck, On the Beach) has but one purpose in life – revenge on Moby Dick, the great white whale who maimed and disfigured him. The obsessed skipper of a whaling boat, Ahab uses his command as an excuse to sail the seven seas in an unrelenting search of his prey while battling a mutinous crew, tropical heat and violent storms in this epic struggle of non-stop fury and inevitable doom. The amazing cast includes Richard Basehart, Leo Genn, Harry Andrews, Bernard Miles, Royal Dano and the great Orson Welles.

Gog (3D): Newly restored in HD and 3-D! In a remote, underground research laboratory two scientists, engaged in space travel research, are frozen to death in a cold chamber when their instruments comes under the control of an unknown power. A security agent, Dr. David Sheppard (Richard Egan, The 300 Spartans) arrives at the secret space research base, home of two experimental robots to investigate the possible sabotage. Early in his investigation, Sheppard finds that the underground laboratory under the control of the Supercomputer NOVAC and experimental robots GOG and MAGOG. Herbert L. Strock (The Crawling Hand) directed this Sci-Fi/Horror classic with a stellar cast that includes Constance Dowling (Black Angel), Herbert Marshall (The Letter) and William Schallert (TV’s The Patty Duke Show).

Witness for the Prosecution: Screen legends Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton star in this “brilliantly made courtroom drama” (Film Daily) that left audiences reeling from its surprise twists and shocking climax. Directed by Billy Wilder, scripted by Wilder and Harry Kurnitz, and based on Agatha Christie’s hit London play, this splendid, one-of-a-kind classic “crackles with emotional electricity” (The New York Times) and continues to keep movie lovers riveted until the final, mesmerizing frame. When a wealthy widow is found murdered, her married suitor, Leonard Vole (Power), is accused of the crime. Vole’s only hope for acquittal is the testimony of his wife (Dietrich)… but his airtight alibi shatters when she reveals some shocking secrets of her own! Nominated for 6 Academy Awards® including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Laughton) and Supporting Actress (Elsa Lanchester).

Diary of a Lost Girl: The second and final collaboration of actress Louise Brooks and director G.W. Pabst (Pandora’s Box), DIARY OF A LOST GIRL is a provocative adaptation of Margarethe Böhme’s notorious novel, in which the naive daughter of a middle class pharmacist is seduced by her father’s assistant, only to be disowned and sent to a repressive home for wayward girls. She escapes, searches for her child, and ends up in a high-class brothel, only to turn the tables on the society which had abused her. It’s another tour-de-force performance by Brooks, whom silent film historian Kevin Brownlow calls an “actress of brilliance, a luminescent personality and a beauty unparalleled in screen history.” – Thomas Gladysz

Phantom of the Opera (1925): A forerunner of the American horror film, and one of the most lavish productions of the silent cinema, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has inspired countless remakes and imitations. But none of its successors can rival the mesmerizing blend of romance and mystery that haunts every frame of the Lon Chaney original. This edition presents the 1929 theatrical version, restored from archival 35mm elements by Film Preservation Associates. It is highlighted by the Technicolor Bal Masque sequence (in which the Phantom interrupts the revelry wearing the scarlet robes of the Red Death), as well as meticulously hand-colored sequences (replicating the Handschiegl Color Process). The film is presented at two different historically-accurate projection speeds, each with two different soundtrack options. Also included is the 1925 theatrical version, which survives only in poor-quality prints, but contains scenes that were removed from the 1929 release version.

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged | 43 Comments

The Cary Grant Blogathon: My Favorite Wife (1940)

“Make up your mind old man. You’re not allowed to have two wives, you know”…

Like many Classic Movie fans, I just adore Cary Grant — and I just adore about every film that he ever made in his 30+ year film career. He can play anything from suave, sophisticated and sexy — to befuddled, nervous and downright goofy. He can easily weave comic elements into his dramatic roles, and can play comedy with such a straight-laced seriousness, that it’s endearing. But what I love most about Cary Grant, is that he is simply mesmerizing on the screen — you just can’t take your eyes off him…

That said, I have lots of Cary Grant films on my favorites list — - Arsenic and Old LaceBringing Up BabyHouseboatMr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and North by Northwest just to name a few — so you would think that it would be extremely difficult for me to pick just one Cary Grant film to cover for this Blogathon… and yet, it was extremely easy for me to choose — my choice was set in stone from the get-go…

My Favorite Wife movie poster

My Favorite Wife is one of my all-time favorite movies, not to mention one of my ‘desert island picks’ — but it’s even more than that… It’s also my ‘go-to’ movie when I’m feeling ‘down in the dumps,’ or sick, or stressed — or if I I simply need to relax and set aside some time for a guaranteed laugh…

So, why do I adore My Favorite Wife?  Well, it’s the delightful screwball comedy plot and the wonderful cast, as well as the witty repartee between Cary Grant, Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott… But most of all, it’s Cary Grant’s portrayal of the frantic and frazzled Nick Arden as he reacts to the crazy (and unforeseen) circumstances that have descended upon him… And, it’s probably no surprise that Grant plays the role to perfection, as he pivots from astounded newlywed – to nervous bigamist – to jealous husband – to annulled and ‘confused’ spouse.

The Plot in a Nutshell: Ellen Arden (Irene Dunne) who was shipwrecked on an island for seven years and presumed dead, returns home on the day of her husband Nick’s (Cary Grant) second marriage. Awkward Honeymoon aside, complications arise when Nick finds out that Ellen wasn’t alone on that island for all those years!

The Featured Cast:

  • Cary Grant: Nick Arden
  • Irene Dunne: Ellen Arden
  • Gail Patrick: Bianca (Nick’s new wife)
  • Randolph Scott: Steve Burkett (the gorgeous man stranded on island with Ellen for all those years!)

A Few Fun Facts:

  • The film was loosely based on the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem Enoch Arden about a fisherman presumed lost at sea who returns home to find that his wife has remarried.
  • Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were good friends and long-time roommates.
  • This is the second of three films that starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne: The Awful Truth, My Favorite Wife, Penny Serenade.

And now for some of my favorite scenes and quotes:

Cary Grant, the ‘astonished husband,’ upon seeing his wife Ellen for the very first time in seven years — at the hotel, on his Honeymoon with new wife Bianca.

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Cary Grant My Favorite Wife

As the ‘nervous bigamist’ — with lots on his mind!

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As the ‘jealous husband’ — with quite a cause to be, upon seeing Steve Burkett for the very first time!

Lady by Pool: Young man, is that Johnny Weissmuller?
Nick: No, I wish it were.

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my favorite wife courtroom sceneAs the annulled and ‘confused’ spouse — who must now ‘make up his mind’ :)

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And, what does Nick finally decide? Will he move on with his new wife and life, or will he  reconcile with his true love??? Well, I won’t tell, but perhaps you’ll remember this famous image from the end of the film…

Cary Grant as Santa in My Favorite Wife

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A Big Thank You to Phyllis Loves Classic Movies (@Solidmoonlight) for hosting this wonderful event! There are so many more wonderful Classic Bloggers participating in this Blogathon so please be sure to check out the other entries.

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Blogathons, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged | 6 Comments

5 Things You May Not Know about Busby Berkeley

 

5 Things You May Not Know about Busby Berkeley

 BERKELEY, BUSBY

Like that today is his birthday. Happy 121st Birthday to the legend Busby Berkeley!

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1) He was a performer and a fighter

 set-picture-for-kidI couldn’t find a a picture of him as kid, so enjoy this behind the scenes photo instead!

At least that’s what I gather from his childhood. His mother was an actress and this led the young Busby to appear in a few small stage productions as a kid. However, he received most of his formal education at the Mohegan Lake Military Academy in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Which means he trained more as a solider than a creative performer. Which brings us to fact number 2…

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2) His started his career as a choreographer in the army

my-forgotten-manHis military experience clearly seen in this number, Remember My Forgotten Man from Gold Diggers of 1933

That’s right, I said the army. Berkeley served as a field artillery lieutenant in World War I, where he was in charge of conducting and directing military parades. After a cease-fire was declared between the warring nations, he was then tasked with putting on stage camp shows for the military men. Considering how his choreography was all about losing the individuals dancers into the complex whole of the number, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that military drills were some of his earliest inspirations.

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3) He was a doctor

docBerkeley lookin’ pretty “doctor-y” in this photo, tho.

OK, so he wasn’t an actual doctor. During his time working on Broadway, Berkeley wore many different hats: director, stage manager, producer, dance, director, etc. He often served multiple roles in a single production and was damned good at it. He was so good, in fact, that people referred to him as a “show doctor,” a person who could turn a failing production into a profitable hit. So, I guess that’s close enough to a real doctor, right?

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4) He never took a single dance lesson

on-setNo dance lessons, no problem

For a man who revolutionized the musical number, it’s amazing that he never took a dance lesson in his life. This was basically unheard of at the time, but that didn’t stop Berkeley. Because of his lack of dance training, Berkeley had a unique approach to creating musical numbers. He would often have elaborate sets built and sit in them for days on end, thinking about how best to utilize the space for dance numbers.

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5) His numbers are subject to intellectual analysis

geometicYup, there’s people in them shapes

Since the beginning of the academic study of film, Berkeley’s numbers have been analyzed by film scholars everywhere. Many view his numbers, with their emphasis on how a group of individuals can create something greater than the parts, as a celebration of the collective, and much in the spirit of Roosevelt’s New Deal Program. Berkeley, however, states he had no lofty political ideas in mind when creating his dance numbers. His goal was simple: innovation and creating something that the soundstage had never seen before.

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Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Birthday Legends, Legends Tribute, Posts by Minoo Allen | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Children of Divorce (1927) DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest (via Twitter in December)

Children of Divorce DVD/Blu-Ray Giveaway Contest 
1927 Classic Starring Clara Bow, Gary Cooper and Esther Ralston

Okay, it’s time for our next Giveaway! In celebration of its December 6th release date in just a few short days… CMH will be giving away FIVE COPIES of  the newly-restored 1927 silent classic, Children of Divorce on DVD/Blu-Ray, courtesy of Flicker Alley via TWITTER (plus ONE more copy via Facebook and this Blog, details to follow later this week).

Children of Divorce 1927

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Before we move on to the Contest, I just want to say that I had the pleasure of seeing this film on The Big Screen at Capitolfest earlier this year, and it is a gem! I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it (as did my cohorts), and was amazed to see how incredibly beautiful the stars were, including a very young Gary Cooper who is captivating onscreen… Here is a sneak peak trailer:

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Okay, here we go…

In order to qualify to win one of these prizes via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, December 31 at 8PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick a winner on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • December 3: One Winner
  • December 10: One Winner
  • December 17: One Winner
  • December 24: One Winner
  • December 31: One Winner

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub (or this blog, depending how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 8PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner on Sunday December 4 at 8PM EST.

If you’re also on Facebook, please feel free to visit us at Classic Movie Hub on Facebook for additional giveaways (or check back on this Blog in a few days) — because we’ll be giving away ONE MORE copies via Facebook/Blog as well!

Children of Divorce, Clara Bow, Gary Cooper, Esther Ralston

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, December 31 at 8PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) Then TWEET (not DM) the following message*:
Just entered to win the “Children of Divorce” #DVDBluRayGiveaway courtesy of @flickeralley and @ClassicMovieHub

THE QUESTION:
Why would you like to win this DVD/Blu-Ray? 

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas...@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

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About the Release: Almost 15 years after the release of its first publication, Flicker Alley, in partnership with the Blackhawk Films® Collection, is proud to celebrate 50 fully-published titles with the Blu-ray/DVD world premiere of Children of Divorce, starring Clara Bow and Gary Cooper. The film begins in an American “divorce colony” in Paris after the First World War, where parents would leave their children for months at a time. Jean, Kitty, and Ted meet there as children and become fast friends. Years later, in America, when wealthy Ted (Gary Cooper) reconnects with Jean (Esther Ralston), the two fall deeply in love, vowing to fulfill a childhood promise to one day marry each other. But true love and the most innocent of plans are no match for the scheming Kitty—played by the original Hollywood “It” girl, Clara Bow—who targets Ted for his fortune. After a night of drunken revelry, Ted wakes up to find he has unwittingly married Kitty. This unfortunate turn of events, however, carries with it the traumatized pasts of the three players, whose views of marriage have been shaped as children of divorce. Sourced from the original nitrate negative held by the Library of Congress, as well as their 1969 fine grain master, this new restoration of Children of Divorce was scanned in 4K resolution, and represents over 200 hours of laboratory work by the Library of Congress in order to create the best version possible. Though some deterioration remains, this is the first time the film has ever been released on home video, allowing audiences to enjoy a rare viewing of classic performances from two of early cinema’s most recognizable stars. Flicker Alley is delighted to reach the milestone of its 50th publication with Children of Divorce. This Blu-ray/DVD dual-format edition features a new score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, and was made possible thanks to the Blackhawk Films® Collection, Paramount Pictures, and the Library of Congress.

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Click here for the full contest rules. 

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

Good Luck!

And if you can’t wait to win the DVD/Blu-Ray, you can purchase it on amazon via the below link (click on image):

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , , , , | 56 Comments

James Stewart: The Truth Behind the Legend Book Giveaway (December)

The Life and Legacy of One of Hollywood’s Most Iconic Talents
James Stewart: The Truth Behind the Legend Book Giveaway

Calling all James Stewart fans! This month we’re very happy to say that we’ll be giving away TEN COPIES of James Stewart: The Truth Behind the Legend by Michael Munn, courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing.

James Stewart: The Truth Behind the Legend, biography by Michael Munn

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Before we start, I’d like to include my synopsis/review here, which I am privileged to say, is also included in the book, and which I think will give you a good idea of what the book covers — and also give you a sense for how much I enjoyed it (I read it in two days, just couldn’t put it down)…

“James Stewart is undoubtedly one of the most beloved stars in classic movie fandom.   During his 50-year career, he became known for his distinctive drawl and down-to-earth persona, embodying the American ‘everyman’ on screen. But that’s not all… To many fans, Stewart’s persona transcended the screen, making him a bona fide symbol of honesty, integrity, determination and patriotism — securing him a unique place in classic movie history as well as in the hearts and minds of his many fans.

James Stewart: The Truth Behind the Legend chronicles the key aspects of Stewart’s life and career, but more importantly, allows readers ‘inside access’ via first-hand interviews with Stewart, his wife Gloria, and best friend Henry Fonda, among others.  We learn about Stewart’s childhood and lessons learned from his father, his first barnstorm flight and lifelong passion for aviation, his years at Mercersburg Academy and Princeton University – and how his affinity for the accordion sparked his acting career. We are taken through his early years performing with the University Players, his start on Broadway, and his ultimate move to Hollywood to pursue his film career. Along the way, we are treated to stories about his ladies’ man reputation, his ‘lean’ years with room-mate Henry Fonda, his lifelong affection for Margaret Sullavan, and his superstar Hollywood romances before meeting Gloria, his wife of 45 years (thanks to Gary and Veronica Cooper). Additionally, we are given insight into his collaborations with Frank Capra, Anthony Mann and Alfred Hitchcock, and we hear about Stewart’s personal experiences while working on some of his most famous films including Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Philadelphia Story (if you ever wondered how Stewart got that raspy voice for the iconic Mr. Smith scene, here’s your chance to find out). We also get a real sense of Stewart’s deep patriotism, as he recounts his active pursuit to enlist in the US Army (even at the expense of his film career), and his relentless campaign to secure approval to fly combat missions during WWII. Upon Stewart’s return to the US as a decorated war hero, we learn about his struggles to re-ignite his film career, maintain relevancy among a new generation of actors, and ethically navigate working as an ‘undercover’ agent for the FBI.

All told, this book is an interesting and enjoyable read which brings us a little closer to the real James Stewart through conversations with the man himself, and the people that knew him.”

–Yours Truly :)

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Jimmy Stewart: It's a Wonderful LifeStewart’s first film after the war, It’s a Wonderful Life, with Donna Reed, was a flop in its day, but now it’s the quintessential Christmas film (1946, RKO)

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And, now that said, let the contest begin!

In order to qualify to win one of these wonderful books via this contest giveaway, you must complete the below entry task by Saturday, December 31 at 9PM EST. However, the sooner you enter, the better chance you have of winning, because we will pick two winners on five different days within the contest period, via random drawings, as listed below… So if you don’t win the first week that you enter, you will still be eligible to win during the following weeks until the contest is over.

  • December 3: Two Winners
  • December 10: Two Winners
  • December 17: Two Winners
  • December 24: Two Winners
  • December 31: Two Winners

We will announce each week’s winner on Twitter @ClassicMovieHub and/or right here on this Blog in the comment section below (depending on how you entered), the day after each winner is picked at 9PM EST — for example, we will announce our first week’s winner at 9PM EST on Sunday December 4.

James Stewart, Mr. Smith Goes to WashingtonIn Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stewart was pitched against the nasty men of power (including Claude Rains), this time in the American Senate (1939, Columbia)

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ENTRY TASK (2-parts) to be completed by Saturday, December 31 at 9PM EST — BUT remember, the sooner you enter, the more chances you have to win…

1) Answer the below question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog post

2) *Then TWEET (not DM) the following message (if you don’t have twitter, see below):
Just entered to win the “James Stewart: The Truth Behind the Legend” #BookGiveaway courtesy of @ClassicMovieHub & @skyhorsepub

THE QUESTION:
What do you love most about Jimmy Stewart? 

NOTE: if for any reason you encounter a problem commenting here on this blog, please feel free to tweet or DM us, or send an email to clas...@gmail.com and we will be happy to create the entry for you.

*If you do not have a Twitter account, you can still enter the contest by simply answering the above question via the comment section at the bottom of this blog — BUT PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU ADD THIS VERBIAGE TO YOUR ANSWER: I do not have a Twitter account, so I am posting here to enter but cannot tweet the message.

Click here for the full contest rules and more details. 

Please note that only Continental United States (excluding Alaska, Hawaii, and the territory of Puerto Rico) entrants are eligible.

And — BlogHub members ARE eligible to win if they live within the Continental United States (as noted above).

…..

jimmy stewart and gloria weddingJim and Gloria were married on August 9, 1950 at Brentwood Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles. Their 600 guests included stars such as Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper and Ray Milland.

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About the book: Many stars of the silver screen in twentieth-century Hollywood became national icons, larger-than-life figures held up as paragons of American virtues. However, the private lives of actors such as John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Errol Flynn rarely lived up to the idealistic roles they portrayed. James Stewart was known as the underdog fighter in many of his films and in real life. He was highly decorated for his bravery as a bomber pilot during World War II and was adored for his earnest and kindly persona. But there was much more to the man. In this New York Times bestseller, the many sides of Stewart are revealed: his explosive temper, his complex love affairs and his longstanding marriage, his service as an FBI agent, his innate shyness, and his passionate patriotism. Munn’s personal touch shines through his writing, as he was a friend of Stewart and his wife, Gloria, and interviewed them as well as their colleagues and friends. This definitive biography reveals the childhood ups and downs that formed this cinema hero; explores the legendary Fonda-Stewart relationship; and recounts Stewart’s experiences making such acclaimed films as The Philadelphia Story, Rear Window, Anatomy of a Murder, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

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If you don’t want to wait to win, you can purchase the book by clicking here:

Good Luck!

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–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

Posted in Books, Contests & Giveaways, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged , | 66 Comments

Film Noir Review: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

“Nobody ever gave me anything, so I don’t owe nobody!”

With the Interstate Highway Act of the 1950s, film noir became mobile. Four lane freeways lined the country, and big city crooks were given free reign to explore rural America. These characters could now swindle the folks who still believed in common decency, and someone like Billy Cook, Jr., a 22 year-old punk, could go on a cross-country killing spree. Dubbed ‘The Hitch-Hiker’ for his practice of flagging down cars and shooting the drivers, Cook killed six people in 1950 before his arrest near the Mexican border. When asked to explain his motives, all he had to say was: “I hate everybody’s guts and everyone hates mine.” If that isn’t noir ideology, I don’t know what is. Cook was executed in San Quentin two years later, but not before signing his likeness over to Filmmakers Inc. for a Hollywood treatment.

The Hitch-Hiker accurately mirrors its rotten source. “This is the story of a man and a gun and a car” so warns the opening credits — a recipe director Ida Lupino quickly makes good on. The opener follows a faceless figure as he kills a roadside couple and rummages their bodies for cash. Transition to another highway and another victim, this time a single man, suffers the same fate. By refusing to show faces, Lupino enhances the anonymity of these brief attacks — the next victim could be anyone, anywhere, including us.

The Hitch-Hiker Nicholas Musuraca's moody camerawork.Nicholas Musuraca’s moody cinematography

The killer, renamed Emmett Myers (William Talman), continues his crime spree after hitching a ride with Roy Collins (Edmond O’Brien) and Gilbert Bowen (Frank Lovejoy). A couple of war buddies on a fishing trip, neither pay much mind to the quiet fellow they just picked up. This complacency comes to an end when Myers threatens them at gunpoint. “Keep driving!” he barks. The cinematography here is cleverly placed, as Myers’ face remains hidden until the pivotal moment he leans into the front seat. A stirring, if isolated (in an otherwise bright film) use of noir’s visual language.

From there, Lupino and co-writer/producer Collier Young take the trio down a tense, often times emasculating, road. Myers gets a perverse kick out of mocking his hostages, calling them “soft” and complaining that they’ve had it easy. He preys on their sense of manhood, knowing good and well his ferocity (and firearm) will prove him the victor. Those asking why Myers doesn’t kill them like his previous victims are given an answer in the form of sadistic games. In one scene, the killer forces Bowen to prove his rifle skills by shooting a soda can out of Collins’ hand. In another, he has them dig their own graves. Noir had seen its fair share of crazies in the past (Kiss of Death, Dial 1119) but never had it so focused on the psychology between a captor and his hostages.

The Hitch-Hiker: Myers forcing his hostages to play along.Myers forcing his hostages to play along.

At 38, William Talman was noticeably older than Cook, but his committed portrayal makes it work. He’s a force to reckoned with in the role, playing a man with no depth or redeeming qualities. Anger seethes from Myers’ every sentence, while a deformity that forces him to sleep with one eye open remains his creepiest trait — one never knows if he’s resting or simply waiting to pounce. Talman had already played noir heavies in Armored Car Robbery (1950) and City that Never Sleeps (1953), but as Myers, he strikes the perfect note of pure evil without overacting.

In front of the gun, Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy give differing views on how to deal with imminent doom. Collins falls hook, line, and sinker for the “soft” guy schtick and is left bearing the brunt of Myers’ cruelty. While his stout build certainly doesn’t do him any favors, it’s the inability to handle pressure that ultimately leads to his mental breakdown. O’Brien gives a brave performance here, playing a guy that most would relate to in the situation, whether we want to admit it or not.

The Hitch-Hiker The film's promotional poster.

The film’s promotional poster.

Bowen doesn’t fall for the goading so easily. He knows any physical aggression will play into Myers’ plan, and spends most of the film forming alternative options. In the film’s most touching moment, Bowen leaves his wedding band on the gas pump of a filling station. Nicely underplayed by Lovejoy (as is his specialty), he knows it will either be vital to their rescue or a memento for his windowed wife. He also completes the film’s Freudian trifecta: Myers the impulsive id, Collins the unnerved ego, and Bowen the calm superego. It’s a nice little subtext that adds depth to repeated viewings.

Behind the camera, Ida Lupino gives minimal direction. Brought in as an 11th hour replacement for Elmer Clifton, Lupino ditches the melodrama of past works (Never Fear, Outrage) for the formula of her Warner Bros days: economic, tough, and fast. The Hitch-Hiker isn’t a sexy picture, it’s an effective one; constantly switching between deserts and claustrophobic car interiors. It’s so devoid of the city, in fact, that when the trio arrive in Baja for the finale, the sleepy border town feels downright cosmopolitan. Lupino would return to melodrama before the year was out (The Bigamist); leaving Hiker her only official noir. She may have made history as the first female director to do so, but it’s still a shame we never got a sophomore effort.

The Hitch-Hiker Ida Lupino behind the camera.

Ida Lupino behind the camera.

Paddling around in public domain purgatory, The Hitch-Hiker is one of the most easily accessible noirs on the market. Unlike many of its peers, however, it  stands the test of time as a effective hostage thriller. To praise the film solely on the grounds of Lupino’s gender is to do it a great disservice — it’s as sparse and muscular as anything noir has to offer. B+

TRIVIA: Daniel Mainwaring contributed to the script, but due to his HUAC involvement, his name was stricken from the final product.

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–Danilo Castro for Classic Movie Hub

Danilo Castro is a film noir enthusiast and Contributing Writer for Classic Movie Hub. You can read more of Danilo’s articles and reviews at the Film Noir Archive, or you can follow Danilo on Twitter @DaniloSCastro.

Posted in Films, Posts by Danilo Castro | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving from Classic Movie Hub!

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Thank You for all of your camaraderie and support… We love being part of this wonderful community and have made many friends here along the way. We soooooo enjoy being able to talk Classic Movies all day long with you, every day throughout the year.

That said, we wish our US friends a Happy Thanksgiving, and our non-US fans a simply Wonderful Day!

Happy Thanksgiving from Classic Movie Hub…..

–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub

 

Posted in Holiday Tributes, Posts by Annmarie Gatti | Tagged | 2 Comments