Friday, March 26, 2010
Stuff I Burned From TCM, Part 9
A number of movies I’ve written about for the past few years have finally seen the light of day on DVD: Overexposed, Rancho Notorious, The Glass Wall, and a few more, so I’m pretty sure this will be the next to last installment of “Stuff I Burned From TCM”. I’ll probably move on to something else movie-related, but until then here are a few more movies that need to see a proper DVD release:
Heat Lightning (1934): Classic hard-boiled Warner Bros. crime film about a pair of sisters working at a motel in the Mojave Desert. Olga’s a frilly girl waitress and her older sister, Myra, (Ann Dvorak) ia a pretty butch auto mechanic. Her cover as a mechanic’s blown once her ex-boyfriend, a sleazy gangster on the run exposes her glamorous gun moll past. Similar in tone to “The Petrified Forest”, but I actually liked this better. A lot of stock Warners players, like Glenda Farrell, Frank McHugh, Ruth Donnelly, and Lyle Talbot are on hand giving their usual great support. Ann Dvorak is brilliant, and this film deserves a decent release.
Ladies of The Chorus (1948): One of the few Marilyn Monroe movies that still hasn't been released to DVD, this low-budget B picture clocks under an hour at 57 minutes. In spite of its brevity it still has tons of padding with several music numbers, some which have Marilyn crooning. Many people have laughed at the casting of Adele Jergens as her mother, probably three years older than Monroe with an unconvincing gray streak dyed into her hair. The plot basically consists of Monroe and Jergens playing a mother and daughter showgirl team and Mom’s reluctance at having her daughter date a millionaire’s spoiled son. The film has all the production values of an old Three Stooges short, no surprise because Columbia Pictures released this film.
The Unholy Three (1930): Lon Chaney’s last film and the talkie version of the Tod Browning silent classic. The talkie version is similar in tone to “Freaks” and Harry Earles is even on hand to play Tweedle Dee the midget. Chaney plays half the film in drag disguised as a kindly old lady pet shop owner, and it’s always amusing watching him tear off his wig, pop a cigar in his mouth and chew out Goliath the strong man. The last line in the film would be his last, “That’s all there is to life… a little laugh, a little tear”, while waving goodbye from a departing caboose. It was as if he’s waving goodbye to the audience, because he died a week after the film wrapped.
Primrose Path (1940): Just like "Heat Lightning" this movie was originally a play, but it moves fast and doesn't seem too talky. Ginger Rogers is a shack-living tomboy from Venice who falls for Joel McCrea, a motorcycle-riding burger flipper down PCH way. He likes the "Portuguese gals" (is Mexican a dirty word?) but falls for the tough dogtown girl. Ginger's mom and stinkbug grandmom, however, are sleazy gold diggers who want Ginger to carry on the family tradition of banging rich bums for their dough. Rogers turns in a performance reminiscent of Barbara Stanwyck in "Stella Dallas" and McCrea turns in another great big galoot performance.