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


26

You Were Made to be Murdered

Hark! Is that the sound of a zither? Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949) stars Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, not necessarily in order of screentime, it’s a post-war noir classic, set in Vienna, with compelling photography, plot and performances. This episode is also The Incomparable’s second look at this film.

Shelly Brisbin with Dr. Drang, Jean MacDonald, Micheline Maynard, Philip Michaels and David J. Loehr


25

Warren William: Cookie Monster

He’s largely unknown today, but Warren William had an important role in what we know today as pre-code film. Sadly, many of his films are neither streaming or rentable. but we did find one that shows off his seedy side. If you’d like more recommendations, listen in. William usually played a dapper, middle-aged villain with a taste for much younger women, and a line that would get him what he wanted. As we say in this episode, think William Powell, but sinister. After his pre-code days, William played Perry Mason in several films, as well as a detective called the Lone Wolf.

Shelly Brisbin with Nathan Alderman and David J. Loehr


24

Mistimed Sobs

We go full-on romance classic with Random Harvest (1942), starring the luminous Greer Garson and the handsome and very English Ronald Colman (she’s Irish.) It’s a golden age, big studio production, and it’s great. There’s love, there’s war (or the aftermath of war), there’s loss of memory… I’ve said too much already. I unreservedly love this one, and not for any knowing precode touches or hard-boiled characters. I love it because Garson and Colman are great together and it made me cry and stuff.

Shelly Brisbin with Deborah Stanish, Frank Feuerbacher, Moisés Chiullan, Erika Ensign and Annette Wierstra


23

A Perfect Spherical Cow

Let us consider 1949’s The Fountainhead, the first filmed version of an Ayn Rand novel, though it’s not the first time Rand’s words were spoken onscreen. She worked as a writer in Hollywood while nursing her brew of objectivist beliefs and turning them into some, um, interesting books. Our film stars Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, and is based on Rand’s novel of the same name. So, how do we feel about all this? Listen and find out!

Shelly Brisbin with David J. Loehr, Nathan Alderman, Travis Bedard and Tara Anderson


22

Come for the Aubrey Plaza Energy, Stay for the Tom Neal Back Story

Edgar G. Ulmer’s “Detour” is both a low-budget B movie, and one of the most influential and elemental examples of America’s film noir. Its stars were largely unknown, and it was released by a poverty row studio. It’s also a great film - one that was “rediscovered” by film nerds and preservationists in recent years, and has now been restored and given a Crierion release. What’s all the fuss? We’re gonna find out?

Nathan Alderman


21

Yum Yum and the Nerd

It’s “Ball of Fire.” Howard Hawks directs; Billy Wilder writes. And Barbara Stanwyck is Sugarpuss O’Shea, who hides out from the cops with a group of dotty professors working on a new encyclopedia. Gary Cooper is in it too, along with S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, Richard Haydn and many more. It’s a comedy classic. Even so, we manage to drop many many hot takes.

Shelly Brisbin with Nathan Alderman, David J. Loehr and Greg Maupin


20

Merry Christmas. Don’t Mention It!

By popular demand among both members and panelists actual and potential, we explore this 1945 classic. Peter Godfrey (who?) directs Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan and a cast of delightful character actors in a holiday story about covering up lies with more lies on a farm in Connecticut on Christmas Eve. Holiday food and sleigh rides aplenty.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra and David J. Loehr


19

Horton-ing and Blore-ing It Up

Believed by many to be the best of the Astaire-Rogers musicals, “Top Hat” was also the most successful. It arrived in the middle of their run as an on-screen couple. It’s both a musical and a screwball comedy with songs by Irving Berlin. It also features a stellar supporting cast: Edward Everett Horton, Helen Broderick, Eric Blore and, wait, is that Lucile Ball?

Shelly Brisbin with David J. Loehr, Greg Maupin and Erika Ensign


18

Rocky Horror Picture Show without the Sex

LTS acknowledges the pumpkin-spiced holiday.

From IMDB: “American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.”

From Shelly: “Oh, I forgot this was an Edgar G. Ulmer joint.”

Universal horror’s big guns are firing in this old dark house story where the ODC is actually a modernist masterpiece, built atop a former fortress. Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and a cast of less interesting people populate this amazing film.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra, David J. Loehr, Monty Ashley and Nathan Alderman


17

Kirk Douglas, MOVIE STAR!

It’s cynical, it’s Billy Wilder, and it’s still relevant. On-the-skids newspaper man Kirk Douglas is gonna do ANYTHING to get that story. This movie came up during the very first Lions, Towers & Shields episode as one that several panelists would watch again. And here they are!

Shelly Brisbin with Monty Ashley and David J. Loehr


16

Does Cary Grant Ever Break s Sweat?

In an early starring role, Cary Grant upends the sensibilities of a small town that’s rife with gossip and hypocrisy. And we have expert help this week, because the panel includes a man who’s created an audio documentary about Grant.

Shelly Brisbin with Erika Ensign, Nathan Alderman and Adam Roche


15

I Know You’re a Sexist Creep, But Run!

Here’s a delicious little film noir, where greed is breathtaking, and you’ll wonder who’s the evilest - until you know for sure.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra and Nathan Alderman


14

No One Told Me It’s Three Hours Long

This is the film that should have won Judy Garland the Oscar. It was both her greatest triumph, and a comeback film. It’s directed by George Cukor, the “woman’s director” of so many female-centered studio films. There’s a whole book about the making of “A Star is Born,” in fact. Also, this is the three-hour one.

Shelly Brisbin with Jean MacDonald


13

They’re Pretty in All the Timelines

Welcome to another crossover where I join the Agents of S.M.O.O.C.H. for a timey-whimey road trip for our Virtual Vacation series. Our agents tease apart the five(?) timelines in Two for the Road (1967), starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney using the cars the characters drive. Join us as we criss-cross through ten years of time and space while road-tripping through France towards the Mediterranean coast. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing, sometimes it’s rocky, sometimes there are too many people in the car. Make sure you pack the sunscreen.

Annette Wierstra with Shelly Brisbin and Jean MacDonald


12

Chekhov’s ID Card

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Erika Ensign, Dr. Drang and David J. Loehr


11

Princess Anna’s Day Off

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra and Sage Young


10

The Nicest Gangster Ever

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Dr. Drang and Nathan Alderman


9

A Numerical Scale of Trash Men

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Nathan Alderman


8

Cornelia is Trash. Or She’s Not!

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Erika Ensign, Nathan Alderman and Jean MacDonald


7

Enjoy Your Cucumber, America!

Old Movie News

New Blu-rays

Sightings

Into the Nitrate Vault

Border Incident (1949) trailer

  • Available to stream, rent or buy digitally

  • On disc: DVD

  • Released by MGM, directed by Anthony Mann, cinematography by John Alton; starring Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, James Mitchell, Howard De Silva, Charles McGraw

Shelly Brisbin with Philip Michaels and Nathan Alderman


6

We’ll Begin with a Reign of Terror

Old Movie News

Today’s Movie

Shelly Brisbin with Jean MacDonald and Dr. Drang


5

I Love Dead Lucy

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Annette Wierstra and Nathan Alderman


4

What to Watch Now

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Philip Michaels, Jean MacDonald, Erika Ensign and Nathan Alderman


3

More Permy Over Time

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Nathan Alderman and Jean MacDonald


2

Ride Her Down Like a Rabbit

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.

Shelly Brisbin with Dr. Drang and Moisés Chiullan


1

Paradise City

We begin a journey into the past, for the love of classic Hollywood-era movies. We've got memories of Kirk Douglas, Blu-Ray news, and a recap and review of Robert Wise's 1949 masterpiece, "The Set-Up."

Shelly Brisbin with Monty Ashley, Dr. Drang and Nathan Alderman