Lions, Towers & Shields

Hosted by Shelly Brisbin

Lions, Towers & Shields is a celebration of films from the classic Hollywood era. Shelly Brisbin leads a merry band through recaps and reviews of great old movies from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

Latest Episode: August 11, 2022 — Sweet Smell of Success

57 Cookie Full of Arsenic

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.

Read the show notes.

Previous Episodes

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    July 28, 2022 No Man of Her Own
    56 John Lund is also Present

    Barbara Stanwyck is back, and we’ve got her. Here’s a noir melodrama with its share of flaws that I like, regardless. And man, IMDB gives a LOT more plot than I would have. “A pregnant woman adopts the identity of a railroad crash victim and starts a new life with the woman’s wealthy in-laws, but is soon blackmailed by her devious ex.” It’s stylishly directed by Mitchell Leisen, and features lots of familiar character actors. And John Lund is also in it.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    July 17, 2022 Spellbound
    55 Intense Chemistry with a Block of Wood

    Call it “minor Hitchcock.” Spellbound tells the story of an amnesiac man who can’t remember the murder of which he’s suspected, and the psychiatrist (it’s 1945, so I have to say “lady” psychiatrist) who helps him sort it out. Gregory Peck is early in his film career, and Ingrid Bergman is all, see you later, Charles Boyer. That’s a “Gaslight” joke. Also notable for the Salvador Dali dream sequence.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    June 30, 2022 Park Row
    54 For the Love of Linotype

    The history of newspapers and typography is this movie’s subject. Director Sam Fuller made this love letter to journalism, and in this episode, we echo that love right back, with the aid of an actual typography historian. Get the movie on YouTube and watch along with us. We’ll count you in!

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    June 16, 2022 Gilda
    53 The Ambiguously Gay Duo

    Put the blame on mame, boys. And also on George McCreedy and Glenn Ford. It’s a love triangle and an erotic noir. But many people just focus on Rita Hayworth’s song and the dress she sang it in. Gilda also features plenty of gay subtext, which we’ll discuss at length, as well as why some films of this era “got away” with gay themes, while others did not. I also believe we’re setting a record for references to past LTS episodes. I’m not mad at that.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    June 2, 2022 Leave Her to Heaven
    52 If Douglas Sirk Made Friday the 13th

    To paraphrase IMDB, it’s a love story until it’s an obsession story. Then it really gets weird. Gene Tierney is gonna make you kinda mad in this Technicolor, noir thriller. We love it!

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    May 19, 2022 Silk Stockings
    51 The Ninotchka Cinematic Universe

    By the late 1950s, big-budget musicals were in color and wide screen, and MGM made several really great ones. Late-period Cole Porter wrote the songs, and Fred Astaire is paired with a much younger partner (surprise!), Cyd Charisse in this remake of 1939’s Ninotchka - Garbo’s last great film. For extra credit, watch both. Enjoy the comedy stylings of Peter Lorre and his commissars, and the delightful Janice Paige, too.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    May 5, 2022 Bringing Up Baby
    50 What is She Talking About? Stop That!

    This is episode #50, so it’s special! And Baby is one of my favorite movies of all time. Howard Hawks directs Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and a sweet little kitty! It’s a screwball comedy, and Hepburn as a comedienne is a revelation. If you hate it, you might not want to join, because unlike many other episodes, where I encourage dissent, I will fight you on this one. You should also know that I can quote way too many lines.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    April 23, 2022 Love Affair/An Affair to Remember
    49 Shut Your Logic Brain Off And Just Go With It

    I love you, but I’ve got to go! Let’s meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. In 1939, Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne had a date. In 1957, it was Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. In each movie, something keeps the lovers from meeting up as planned. And though it was a dumb thing (according to me) the movies remain classics of the romance genre.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    April 14, 2022 The Narrow Margin
    48 He Sounds Like an Angry Garbage Truck

    We enter the gritty world of… Charles McGraw’s voice, in this 1952 noir directed by Richard Fleischer. You may know him from 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and (spoiler alert) Soylent Green is people! In The Narrow Margin, a cop must protect a woman scheduled to testify against a killer. Much of the action takes place on a cross-country train, in which the visual margins are indeed narrow.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    March 24, 2022 Gaslight
    47 Angela Lansbury, Comin’ In Hot

    Let’s cut to the chase: this film gave birth to the modern term, gaslighting. Charles Boyer needs to drive Ingrid Bergman crazy so he can steal her jewels - a crime he first tried to commit against Ingrid’s aunt, years before. George Cukor takes an unusual turn at dark, noirish storytelling, and Bergman wins an Oscar. Joseph Cotten costars, and Angela Lansbury makes her film debut at age 19.

    Host’s note: Gaslight may be triggering for someone who has experienced an abusive relationship. And that may be surprising information about a black-and-white film from 1944. We encourage you to approach the film itself carefully if depictions of manipulation in relationships might be uncomfortable for you.

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