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.

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


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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


31

The Patriarchy: You’re Swimming In It

Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Paulette Goddard and a stellar cast of supporting actresses are just doing the best they can, moving through their upper-class New York world.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra, Deborah Stanish, Lisa Schmeiser and Judy Samelson


30

There are No Tigers in Mexico

Bogart, Huston and Holt go hunting for gold in Mexico, and they find it. But it’s unlikely they’ll get to keep it. John Huston’s 1947 “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” includes some of the best performances of the three lead actors’ careers, and a lot of visual flourishes, social commentary and a giant blob of irony.

Shelly Brisbin with Dr. Drang


29

Lee Marvin is Evil Ted Lasso

John Sturges’ “Bad Day at Black Rock” takes place soon after World War II, but it feels like something out of the Old West. You could also call it “daylight noir.” Spencer Tracy faces off against Robert Ryan, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and a whole bunch of townspeople with something to hide. We talk about filmmaking techniques, performance and how a one-armed dude survives his 24 hours in Black Rock.

Shelly Brisbin with Dr. Drang, Philip Michaels and Nathan Alderman


28

Hitchcock Tilts at Windmills

Or. What if Santa Claus Pushed You off a Tower?

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s earliest American films is among the most enjoyable to watch. Joel McCrea is the reporter of the title, off to find out what’s happening in Europe for the benefit of a prewar American audience. Spies, murder and amazing character actors abound, along with some extraordinary Hitchcock set pieces.

Nathan Alderman with Shelly Brisbin and Micheline Maynard


27

That Time Joel McCrea was a Total Jerk

The usually affable Joel McCrea is sort of the hero, but not exactly lovable. And Ginger Rogers may have done everything Fred Astaire did “backwards and in heels” but here, she is not living her best life. “Primrose Path” takes an unrelenting look at a dysfunctional family. It was unusual for its time, and gives the two leads a lot to do.

Shelly Brisbin with Nathan Alderman


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