A Killer Stalks the Streets of San Francisco in Edward Dmytryk ‘s THE SNIPER (1952)

sniperposter

You can currently stream THE SNIPER online at Watch TCM

A few weeks ago I finally caught up with THE SNIPER (1952) on TCM, which tracks the brutal crimes of a gun-wielding maniac stalking women on the streets of San Francisco. The film boasts an impressive pedigree that includes director Edward Dmytryk, producer Stanley Kramer, screenwriters Harry Brown along with Edna and Edward Anhalt, cinematographer Burnett Guffey and composer George Antheil but outside of screenings on TCM, it has been somewhat hard to see until recently thanks to a Columbia DVD release in 2009.

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The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of

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If you watch TCM regularly you’re probably aware that the classic movie channel is curating the upcoming event What Dreams Are Made Of: A Century of Movie Magic at Auction being organized by Bonhams. This highly anticipated auction is taking place November 25th in New York where interested bidders as well as curious film fans can also see a preview of the items on display beginning November 20th and running through November 25th. According to the official press release the auction features “a stunning array of costumes, props, scripts, production designs, production memos, movie posters and other rare treasures from some of the greatest films of all time.” And the crown jewel of the lot is the original falcon statue used in THE MALTESE FALCON (1945), which may fetch a hefty seven figure sum. And best of all? A portion of the auction proceeds will be going to The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by director Martin Scorsese to preserve and protect motion picture history.

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Reconsidering Aldo Ray: Chapter Two

rayswimmerThis is the second part of my two piece article on actor Aldo Ray. The first part can be found here.

When THE MARRYING KIND was released in 1952 Aldo Ray was praised for his portrayal of a blue-collar man struggling to keep his fractured marriage together. Film critic Bosley Crowther singled out Ray’s performance in his review for The New York Times:

“…the big surprise of this picture is the talent of Mr. Ray in presenting a richly appealing and naturally complicated young man. Not handsome but sturdy in appearance, and possessed of a melting, husky voice, he has a gift for flowing humor and straight-faced pathos that is almost beyond belief. His winning performance of the husband is a great factor in this film.”
- Bosley Crowther (March 14, 1952)

Ray’s everyman quality earned him lots of fans and critical praise early in his career but it was hard won. During the film’s production director George Cuckor ordered Ray to take ballet lessons because he moved like a football player. Studio chief Harry Cohn also insisted that Aldo Ray (DeRa at the time) change his name to John Harrison but Ray refused to answer to his new name on set and was applauded by the film crew who backed his rebellious decision. The teamsters, who were proud of their own ethnic heritage, admired Ray’s determination to try and keep his distinctly Italian name intact. A compromise was eventually worked out and Aldo DeRa became Aldo Ray instead of John Harrison.

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Toshiro Mifune is….Sinbad?

The TCM Movie Morlocks blogathon tribute to Toshiro Mifune continues as I revisit THE LOST WORLD OF SINBAD, a film I first saw as a kid at the National Theatre in downtown Richmond, Virginia. Although TCM is not airing this in their Mifune lineup scheduled for Thursday, August 9th, it is worth checking out (if you have an all region DVD player) to see another side of the celebrated Japanese actor that Western audiences rarely get a chance to see.          [...MORE]

The King of Comedy: Jerry Lewis at 86

On Friday, March 16th, Jerry Lewis will be celebrating his 86th birthday. Jerry’s been on my mind a lot lately so I didn’t want to let the occasion pass without making note of it. I love Jerry Lewis but it’s not always easy being a Jerry Lewis fan.

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Joan Blondell Goes Hawaiian

During the month of August TCM highlights the work of a select group of talented performers as part of their annual Summer Under the Stars festival. The Movie Morlocks were asked to select one overlooked star from the Summer Under the Stars line-up to spotlight during a weeklong celebration of their work. Last year the Morlocks highlighted the accomplishments of Woody Strode and before that, Gloria Grahame and Fred MacMurray. This year the Morlocks are setting their sights on Joan Blondell with a blogathon that takes place August 18th – 24th.

I’ve never really considered the Oscar nominated Blondell to be an overlooked star. With her bright blond hair, big blue eyes and winning smile she seemed larger than life and many of her signature roles have a timeless quality that’s extremely enduring. She was sexy, sassy, smart and incredibly funny but she never achieved the same kind of success that many of her contemporaries did. Hopefully Joan Blondell will gain a few more fans and admirers during the coming week as the Morlocks take a look at her lengthy career in front of the camera.

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Racist Images in Classic Films: A Conversation

Joan Crawford in TORCH SONG (1954)

Today marks the end of TCM’s annual look at “Race and Hollywood.” This year TCM has focused on Arab Images on Film, which has generated some heated debates on the TCM message boards. Fighting a war in the Middle East for the last 10 years has obviously had a profound impact in shaping the way that many perceive Arab Americans and this timely topic couldn’t be more pertinent. I’m always deeply appreciative of TCM’s efforts to expand the conversation about “Race in Hollywood” so I thought I’d share the outcome of a recent discussion about the topic that began on the social networking site, Twitter between myself and some TCM viewers.

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My TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule

Today marks the beginning of TCM’s Classic Film Festival taking place April 28-May 1. A number of people have asked me if I’m attending the festival this year but unfortunately I’m stuck at home writing about it. Personal budget constraints make my attendance impossible but there are a lot of film screenings and events taking place at the festival that I wish I could see. I thought it would be fun to imagine how I might have planned out my trip to TCM’s Classic Film Festival this year and share a few movie recommendations in the process.

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Goodbye Goddess: Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011

Elizabeth Taylor has always been one of my favorite actresses. She was an incredible natural beauty. Arguably the most beautiful actress Hollywood ever produced but she was also a brilliant performer when she wanted to be. She dominated almost every film she ever appeared in even when that film wasn’t particularly worthy of her larger than life presence. Taylor was a complex woman with a rich inner life who enjoyed living and one look into her deep violet eyes told you this. Inside of Taylor there seemed to be a volcanic mountain of pent-up emotion just waiting to explode. Her appetite for life was voracious but her heart was huge, open and warm. These are rare and wonderful qualities that you seldom find in today’s Hollywood stars.

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Courage Conquers Death in Christopher Strong

I can still recall the first time that I saw Dorothy Arzner’s Christopher Strong (1933). I was just a teenager flipping channels one lazy afternoon and suddenly the opening credits appeared on my television. I noticed Colin Clive’s name so I paused. I was familiar with the actor thanks to his role as Doctor Frankenstein in James Whale’s Frankenstein films and I was a big fan. The wonderfully eerie opening theme composed by Roy Webb (Cat People; 1942, I Walked with A Zombie; 1943, The Seventh Victim; 1943, The Spiral Staircase; 1945, The Body Snatcher; 1945, Mighty Joe Young; 1949, etc.) for Christopher Strong was rather ominous and I immediately thought I was going to be seeing another horror film or thriller starring Colin Clive but I soon discovered that I was wrong. Christopher Strong isn’t a horror film. It’s a romantic melodrama with some unexpected action featuring a spectacular star performance from the wonderful Katharine Hepburn. The movie captivated me and surprised me. It also made me a lifelong Hepburn fan.

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