TPK: Curse of Strahd
Another year draws to a close, and so many classic movies remain undiscussed on Lions, Towers & Shields. But many of your regular panelists have feelings, as well as recommendations for the future. So I invited them to share them in a themed draft episode.
NOTE: LTS will return in March 2023. We'll cover at least 21 films next year, but the episodes will be spaced out over three, seven-episode seasons to give our panelists (and your host) time to rest and reflect on all the classic film goodness that awaits.
December 14, 2022 Remember the Night
Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray team up, not to kill for insurance money, but to share a sweet but unlikely holiday road trip. It’s the last movie Preston Sturges wrote before he turned fully to directing. Happy holidays from your friends at Lions, Towers & Shields.
December 1, 2022 The Manchurian Candidate
The John Frankenheimer classic tells you all you need to know about Angela Lansbury’s talent. And it’s a crackerjack political thriller, too.
November 17, 2022 The Clock
The Clock is Judy Garland’s first dramatic role. She’s teamed with Robert Walker, who’s a soldier on leave when they meet in New York City. It’s a little bit Affair to Remember, and a little bit On the Town. Really sweet, well-acted romantic film. Directed by Garland’s soon-to-be husband Vincente Minnelli.
November 3, 2022 Keeper of the Flame
Keeper of the Flame is a drama about the dangers of fascism, set early in WWII and directed by George Cukor, the man who made Gaslight, but was better known for comedies and “women’s” films. Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn star in the far better of their two dramatic pairings. Be warned, we talk about politics, both old and new. And, um, Texas history?
October 20, 2022 Dead of Night
Britain’s Ealing Studios is best known for its comedies, including The Ladykillers, The Lavender Hill Mob, and Kind Hearts And Coronets. But this 1945 precursor to those famously funny films deals more with chills than chuckles. Four directors tag-team to adapt a mix of original and classic tales, including one based on a story by H.G. Wells. It’s the rare horror anthology whose framing story is as creepily compelling as its individual tales of terror, building to a memorably hair-raising climax that’ll stick with you through the closing credits and beyond. Come for the golf-induced suicide, stay for the ventriloquist’s dummy.
October 6, 2022 Raw Deal
We celebrate the life of Marsha Hunt, who passed away at age 104, last month. She appeared in “Raw Deal” with Dennis O’Keefe and Claire Trevor. It’s a late 40s film noir with wonderful cinematography by John Alton.
September 22, 2022 The Best Years of Our Lives
Director William Wyler’s film tells the stories of three men returning home from World War II and the impact on their lives, their families and their careers. Great performances from Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Teresa Wright, Myrna Loy and acting newcomer Harold Russell. Lesser-known faves of mine, Gladys George and Cathy O’Donnell are also great to see. Released a year after war’s end, this is the winner of many awards. Wyler served in the war, and I think it shows in the way he made this film.**
September 8, 2022 This Gun for Hire
The first Alan Ladd/Veronica Lake pairing is a film noir/thriller about a hit man doing his job and getting even. Alan Ladd’s cat is unbilled. Please also enjoy Laird Cregar, about whom there’s so much to say!
August 25, 2022 Kiss Me Kate
The film version of Cole Porter’s show, which is based on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” (got that?) landed in the middle of MGM’s big technicolor musical era, the 1950s. Howard Keel, Kathryn Grayson and Ann Miller are your stars, and a very young Bob Fosse is among the standouts in the cast. Movie censors got to Porter’s lyrics, which gives us some fun topics to cover. It’s also your host’s birthday show. Because it’s too darn hot to cover anything else.
August 11, 2022 Sweet Smell of Success
Burt Lancaster plays a newspaper columnist who is based on Walter Winchell. Winchell was a powerful, vindictive dude, and Lancaster is deliciously evil here, going after the man his sister loves, because he can. Tony Curtis co-stars as a man doing Lancaster’s bidding to advance his own career. The film is based on Ernest Lehman’s novel, and the screenplay was co-written by Clifford Odets. The script is a strong point, as are Lancaster and Curtis’s performances. Enjoy the great jazz score, and get lost in the sleazy world of press agents and corrupt columnists.