If the Jeopardy answer is “A Christmas-themed film of the mid-1940s”, you might expect the question to be “What is ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’” or “What is ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’” But on this year’s LTS holiday episode, those questions would be wrong! Our movie this year comes with stars like Victor Moore and Don DeFore, not Jimmy Stewart or Donna Reed. But our little holiday movie has a lot to recommend it. There’s found family, a budding love story, a challenge to capitalism and entrepreneurship by war veterans. It all happens at Christmastime in a New York mansion that’s been appropriated for the holidays by our eclectic cast of characters.
December 1, 2023 Kind Hearts and Coronets
I hear that Alec Guinness made a couple of movies in the 1970s or 80s that you may know. This is not that. This is a classic Ealing Studios comedy in which Alec plays eight characters. Because it’s a British comedy, I was not surprised to find that it dealt with social class. Robert Hamer directs, and Dennis Price is the actual star. This episode is full of connections to other things we like. Everyone brought the trivia.
November 23, 2023 The Night of the Hunter
This is a disturbing film: also a good one. Charles Laughton’s only directorial outing focuses on a con man (and worse) terrorizing a pair of children as they run from him. He’s attempting to secure some money he covets, and to shut up those meddling kids. Robert Mitchum is our charismatic villain and star, along with Shelley Winters and silent luminary Lillian Gish, also turning in worthy performances. Buckle up, friends. You’ve been warned. Ish.
November 17, 2023 Trouble in Paradise
For me, this movie answers some important LTS questions: what did that Ernst Lubitsch guy direct besides To Be Or Not To Be? How was Herbert Marshall ever a romantic lead? And finally, where are the precodes? It’s been forever!
TIP also give me the chance to introduce Kay Francis and Miriam Hopkins, the fashion-forward queen of Warner Brothers before Bette Davis, and Miss Davis’ later southern belle nemesis in several films - respectively.
Trouble in Paradise is a romantic triangle comedy featuring “a gentleman thief, a (lady) pickpocket” and a fancy woman who is their mark. It’s very funny, and very risqué in the way that precode movies tend to be - could they say that in 1932? Highly recommended by your host and at least two panel regulars.
November 9, 2023 Silent Sampler
For this episode, we’re breaking format a bit. Instead of focusing on one film, we’ll talk about several: all from the silent film era. It’s not a draft, but each panelist has picked a movie, and we’ve all watched them! Our guide is guest host, Micki Maynard!
November 2, 2023 In A Lonely Place
Nicholas Ray directs Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Graham. Bogie is Dix Steele, who should not be confused for Captain Picard’s hollowdeck alter ego, Dixon Hill. (Am I the only one who does that?) Bogie is not a detective, but a screenwriter suspected of murder. In A Lonely Place is considered one of the best film noir made, and Bogart and Graham give excellent performances.
October 26, 2023 Cat People
It’s the age-old story: Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl get married, girl’s psychosexual hangups put strain on their marriage, girl may or may not begin turning into a large murderous panther because of an ancient family curse … you know, the usual. Horror auteur Val Lewton and ace director Jacques Tourneur spin a low budget into shadow-drenched, spine-tingling gold in a creepy classic that takes the time to care about its characters, and brilliantly lets sound, suggestion, and your imagination do all the heavy lifting. Featuring the most infamous bus in movie history! (Note: This is the 1940s original, not the, er, sweaty 1980s remake.) With your guest host, Nathan Alderman.
August 31, 2023 Sunset Boulevard
We watch Billy Wilder’s story of a silent film queen’s life in middle age and the screenwriter who stumbles into her world. Noir, melodrama, dark humor, horror. It’s all here in this classic, staring Gloria Swanson. She’s all of 46 when she made this movie, but a has-been like her character. This episode is full of excellent trivia and unexpected connections made by our super-smart panel.
August 24, 2023 The Palm Beach Story
Probably the best of the Sturges comedies, The Palm Beach Story is part romance, part screwball comedy, part drawing room comedy. The performances sparkle, the movie looks great, and the plot is inventive. Joel McCrea and Claudette Colbert are our delightful stars. And I get to talk about Mary Astor some more. Don’t miss this one, kids.
August 17, 2023 Easy Living
Fair warning: this recap of a Preston Sturges film from 1937 also features Barbie content.
August 10, 2023 An Interview with Eddie Muller
Shelly talks with the “czar of noir” about his new book, his favorite films noir and what’s happening at Turner Classic Movies.