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: December 1, 2022 — The Manchurian Candidate

65 This Is Not Jessica Fletcher

The John Frankenheimer classic tells you all you need to know about Angela Lansbury’s talent. And it’s a crackerjack political thriller, too.

Read the show notes.

Previous Episodes

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    November 17, 2022 The Clock
    64 Justice for Bill

    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.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    November 3, 2022 Keeper of the Flam
    63 It’s All About The Last 12 Minutes

    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?

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    October 20, 2022 Dead of Night
    62 Shelly’s Own String of Murders

    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.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    October 6, 2022 Raw Deal
    61 Big Theremin Energy and an Implied Train

    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.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    September 22, 2022 The Best Years of Our Lives
    60 Celebrate the Teresa Wright-aissance

    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.**

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    September 8, 2022 This Gun for Hire
    59 That’s So Raven

    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!

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    August 25, 2022 Kiss Me Kate
    58 He’s Culturing Me

    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.

  • Lions, Towers & Shields cover art
    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.

  • 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.

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