Lions, Towers & Shields is a celebration of films from the classic, Hollywood era. Shelly Brisbin leads a merry band through reviews of great old movies, and news about streaming, restorations and new releases.

42

A Hot Chocolate of a Movie

This is Shelly’s current favorite classic holiday movie. It begins just before Christmas and runs New Years, and that totally counts! It’s sweet, it’s a romance and it’s well-acted. It stars Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten and a teenaged and bratty Shirley Temple.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra and Erika Ensign


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41

The Barbara O’Neil Memorial Highway

Who among the female stars of the 30s and 40s retains more ID today than Bette Davis? She was the queen of the Warner lot when she wasn’t fighting with her bosses, and she played her share of scenery-chewing roles as both a young woman and an older one. But All This and Heaven Too is not one of these. The Davis we meet here is deep in melodrama, certainly, but her performance is controlled and quiet. She loves Charles Boyer, and he loves her, but nothing’s going right for them. Behold, LTS does romance!

Shelly Brisbin with Philip Michaels, Lisa Schmeiser and Erika Ensign


40

Red Herring Alley

We return to film noir, with a movie that could be called, Edmond O’Brien’s really, really bad day. A man learns he’s going to die, and sets out to find out who’s killing him and why. It’s directed by Rudolf Maté, and if you are a fan of noir lighting, camera angles and scenes of LA and San Francisco from the post-war period, you will find them here.

Shelly Brisbin with David J. Loehr and Nathan Alderman


39

Hitchcock’s Two-Hour Tour

What happens when an unlikely group of strangers shares an ocean voyage? If it’s the middle of WWII and Alfred Hitchcock is directing, don’t expect a frothy comedy, dah-ling. Do expect raconteur and occasional film actress Tallulah Bankhead, with John Hodiak, Walter Slezak, William Bendix and Hume Cronyn. They’re all stuck on a lifeboat after their merchant ship is torpedoed.

Shelly Brisbin with Jean MacDonald and Nathan Alderman


38

At Least the Cat Survives

It’s 1830s Edinburgh, home of some of Europe’s finest medical schools — but where are they getting the cadavers to hone their students’ knowledge of anatomy? Well, provided you’ve got ready cash on hand, and you don’t ask too many questions… Horror auteur Val Lewton and still-rookie director Robert Wise adapt Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story with typically eerie elegance — but you’ll come away remembering Boris Karloff, in maybe the greatest performance of his career, as a deceptively cheerful cabman with a grisly side hustle. A much-diminished Bela Lugosi’s also in it, barely — but the key scene he shares with Karloff will stick with you long after you’ve seen this relatively little-known and underrated classic.

Nathan Alderman with Annette Wierstra and Shelly Brisbin


37

House of Mean Gables

Ride with Barbara Stanwyck in an ambulance that’s on a collision course with decadent mayhem. Stanwyck gets a job as a nurse, eventually assigned to care for the children of a neglectful mom. She’s neglectful because she’s drunk and under the influence of a sadistic Clark Gable. And oh look, Joan Blondell is in this one, too. Directed by “Wild” Bill Wellman. The film is among the first rank of early 30s precodes.

Shelly Brisbin with Nathan Alderman


36

Frauds and Geeks

Pretty actor Tyrone Power comes back from WWII and wants to play more serious part. So here he is as a carnival worker who rises through like as an increasingly successful con man. Until he doesn’t. Great noir visuals and wonderful performances by the underseen Helen Walker, and the can’t-be-overseen Joan Blondell.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra and Nathan Alderman


35

Aspirational Spaces

All this fuss over one lady in a painting. Laura! Loads of men want her, she has a song that’s quite memorable, and everyone in this movie talks about her constantly. Otto Preminger directs Gene Tierney, Vincent Price, Dana Andrews, and Clifton Webb. It’s a great cast, and the film comes just as we’re entering the film noir era. But it’s far too pretty to be noir.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra and Erika Ensign


34

I’m Sorry. I’ll Stop Talking about Joan Blondell.

James Cagney became a star, Mae Clark took a grapefruit to the face and Jean Harlow made an impression. It’s an early “talkie” by William Wellman that’s both a blueprint for what would come later, and a uniquely brutal take on the gangster genre.

Shelly Brisbin with Dr. Drang and Nathan Alderman


33

Nice Guy, or Good Man?

Here’s a Billy Wilder master class that some people call one of the greatest comedies ever - “The Apartment.” We’ll see about that! It was among the inspirations for “Mad Men,” so there’s that, too. Jack Lemon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred McMurray are your leads. Welcome to the swinging’ 60s, businessman style.

Shelly Brisbin with Jean MacDonald, Annette Wierstra and Nathan Alderman


32

Filmed on Satin

It’s the best-loved of the four movies Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant made together, and the one that also stars Jimmy Steward. Another George Cukor production, this was Hepburn’s triumphant entry into MGM, and her middle finger to the “box office poison” label of the late 1930s. “Hullo, George!”

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra, Paul Sabourin, Micheline Maynard and Judy Samelson


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