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.
LATEST EPISODE • Sullivan’s Travels: Class Tourism, with a Little Sex
Preston Sturgess was in top form in 1941 for this comedy starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake - in one of her first films. McCrea is a movie director, looking for a way to make a “socially relevant” film, instead of the comedies he’s been making. McCrea travels as a hobo, trying to “know trouble” in a way he can’t while living his life as a Hollywood director. Like Orson Welles, Sturges used a stock company of character actors, and many of them are along for the ride.
Sightings: classics on TV, streaming, and (someday) the festival circuit
* TCM Summer Under the Stars: some picks from Once Upon a Screen. 14 TCM premiers, 12 previously not featured stars, including Sylvia Sidney, Nina Foch, Delores Del Rio, Diana Dors, Paul Henreid. Some premieres: The Golden Blade (1953), You and Me (Fritz Lang w/Sylvia Sidney), Night Club Scandal (1937), The Senator was Indiscreet (William Powell, 1947), The Weak and the Wicked (Dors, 1954), For Men Only (Henreid, 1952)
The Movie: review/commentary on a single classic film
We offer you a summer movie set in Rome. Directed by William Wyler, and starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, Roman Holiday tells the story of an American newspaper reporter who meets a princess and liberates her from the confinement of her royal station for a romantic adventure in 1950s Rome for a classic royal and the commoner tale. The people and the scenery are beautiful, and the actors have lovely chemistry. The is among the earliest, and best of the 1950s-60s films that took Americans to a Europe that had finally begun recovering from the horrors of World War II.
James Cagney is a bootlegger. This is the story of his rise and fall. Warner Brothers had been producing gangster yarns since the early 30s, many featuring Cagney. But late ’30s filmmaking had become better and more watchable, with studio stalwarts like Cagney, Bogart and Frank McHugh now pros at the genre. Add in the wonderful and underrated Gladys George, and you’ve got yourself a movie! Raoul Walsh, whose career went back to silents, and who would later direct Cagney in “White Heat,” directed. “The Roaring Twenties” is part social commentary, crime movie and melodrama. And it’s one of the most entertaining movies of this genre.
Here’s the film, based on James M. Cain’s story, that won Joan Crawford an Oscar, and began the Warner Brothers phase of her career, after MGM sent her packing. It tells the story of Mildred, who begins a new life when her marriage ends by building a restaurant empire. But her selfish daughter (Ann Blyth) and her lover (Zachary Scott) don’t make things easy for the proprietor of Mildred’s Fatburger. Bonus? Film noir with a female protagonist.
Screwball comedy and Depression-era inequity meet in “My Man Godfrey” (1935). William Powell is experiencing the Depression first-hand, from under a bridge, when a society swell arrives and offers him a few dollars to help her win a scavenger hunt. Before you know it, Powell is buttling in the house of a dysfunctional wealthy family. Hilarity, and the politics of class follow. Carole Lombard, William Powell, Alice Brady and Gail Patrick are all marvelous, as is the rest of the supporting cast. “My Man Godfrey” was nominated for six Oscars, including the first two supporting actor statues ever awarded, but won none.
What do you get when you combine a director of 50s melodrama, a screwball TV comedian, a deliciously flamboyant cad, and a bunch of great character actors from Britain and America? Why, a British Jack the Ripper mystery, of course. On this episode, we’re talking about 1947’s “Lured,” directed by Douglas Sirk, and starring Lucile Ball and George Sanders. We will spoil the ending in this episode, like we do, so watch the movie, probably for free, before you listen.
Classic films, by definition, are comfort food, or at least, they’re escapist entertainment. Our panel picks films they love, and want to watch right now, as we confront a lot of time indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lily has had a rough life. Her father has basically been pimping her out, and she's had it! She and her friend Chico, who happens to be a black woman, take off for New York so Lily soon begins climbing the corporate ladder, using each corporate executive s weakness to obtain what she wants. Because that's how Nietzsche would want her to do it. "Baby Face" is a quintessential pre-code movie. And it had a lot to do with the code being enforced a few months aster its release.
Come with us to late 1930s New York. It's the Depression, but you wouldn't know it here on Fifth Avenue, where the Setons live, and where things would be even better - if we had the right kind of government. We're discussing the 1938 film, Holiday, directed by George Cukor, and staring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. There's a bit of old movie news, too. Just a bit.