October & November at the Movie Morlocks

SORCERORSLinks to my posts at the TCM’s Movie Morlocks October – November.

Ghost Stories: THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (1946)
Excerpt: “THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES is often referred to as an “Abbott and Costello movie for people who don’t like Abbott and Costello” but as a fan of the comic duo I find that proclamation a bit off base. The film does distinguish itself from the popular formula pictures they made during this period that often contained well-honed routines and the two funny men don’t exchange much direct dialogue but it still contains the same kind of slapstick humor and fast-paced jokes that made them one of the most beloved comedy teams in Hollywood during the 1940s.”

Freak Shows: Come one, come all to the Scariest Show On Earth!
Excerpt: “The award-winning horror anthology’s latest incarnation is called FREAK SHOW and it’s set in Florida during the 1950s at a circus sideshow where strange goings-on take place in and outside of the Big Top. The show’s creators, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck, have admitted in recent interviews that they found inspiration for the new season in two classic horror films, Tod Browning’s FREAKS (1932) and Herk Harvey’s CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) but circuses and carnivals have long been a staple of horror cinema and director Tod Browning used the sideshow as a setting for numerous uncanny films before he made FREAKS. With Shocktober upon us it seems as good a time as any to showcase some of my favorite horrific or just plain odd and unusual films with scary clowns and sideshow performers that paved the way for AMERICAN HORROR STORY: FREAK SHOW.”

Aaahoo! She-Wolf of London (1946)
Excerpt: “What I really appreciate about this short 61 minute movie is its unique female protagonists as well as its low-key shocks that only register after you’ve had time to digest the film’s streamlined plot. The four most interesting characters in SHE-WOLF OF LONDON, include Phyllis, her aunt Martha as well as her female cousin and the quietly lurking housekeeper Hannah (Eily Malyon). The men in the movie are merely romantic love interests, victims of the werewolf (the beast doesn’t kill any women) or hapless police investigators who do very little to move the plot along, which must have puzzled some viewers who were expecting the men to take control of the situation and save the day. In most Universal monster movies that’s exactly what they’d typically do but this isn’t a typical monster movie.”

Mummy Dearest
Excerpt: “Hammer Films produced four Mummy movies between 1959 and 1971 and this coming Saturday (Oct. 25th) TCM is airing one of my favorites, Seth Holt’s BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1971). This unabashedly sexy horror extravaganza was the last Mummy movie produced by the ‘Studio that Dripped Blood’ and thanks to a great cast and some creative directing choices it turned out to be one of their best. But before it reached the screen the production was plagued by some serious setbacks that seemed to resemble the effects of a ‘mummy’s curse’ that’s often associated with doomed adventure seekers and tomb raiders. Was it just circumstance and bad luck or did something supernatural interfere with the making of the film? Read on to find out!”

Halloween Viewing Recommendations with a Feminine Touch
Excerpt: “…I decided to ask some of my favorite female film journalists who also happen to be fellow horror devotees to join me in recommending one movie from TCM’s Halloween line-up for your viewing pleasure. I think you’ll enjoy our enthusiastic endorsements but you might want to approach them with caution. A few contain minor spoilers along with some surprising scares but I hope that won’t stop you from joining us in celebrating Halloween with TCM. Demonic monsters, scary chauffeurs and axe-wielding killers are just a few of the shocking thrills that await you!”

Mind Over Matter: THE SORCERERS (1967)
Excerpt: “Since Michael Reeves unfortunate death in 1969 at the age of 25, the British director’s life has become the stuff of cinematic legend. His reputation as a sort of Byronic hero who challenged the British film establishment was secured when he died much too young due to an accidental drug overdose leaving behind just a handful of low-budget horror films that attained cult status in subsequent years. His distinct talent and the ephemeral nature of his work have led many of Reeve’s colleagues and admirers to speculate on the direction his career might have taken if he had lived longer and it’s not uncommon to see his name mentioned along with better known British filmmakers who also dealt with controversial material including Michael Powell and Ken Russell. Reeves’ bone-chilling WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1969), which explored the brutality of the witch hunts in England during the 17th century, is often cited as one of the greatest and most gruesome horror films produced during the 1960s but his most intimate and introspective film might be THE SORCERERS (1967).”

Artist, Activist & Star-Maker: Photographer Eliot Elisofon
Excerpt: “When I first started writing about Hollywood glamor photography here at the Movie Morlocks, one of the photographers I was particularly keen on featuring was Eliot Elisofon. His captivating images of numerous Hollywood stars have mesmerized me for decades but back in 2010 there was very little information about the man available online. This year that changed significantly thanks to the Smithsonian museum, which launched the first retrospective of Elisofon’s photography at the National Museum of African Art.”

10 Things You Might Not Know About Rod Taylor
Excerpt: “I’ve always liked Rod Taylor. The broad shouldered, barrel-chested actor with a booming voice is intimidating on screen but there’s a warmth in his smile that’s undeniably inviting. He was universally good in every film genre he took part in and made the challenging transition from serious drama to action movies, thrillers and romantic comedies seem effortless. He was at home in military fatigues or a three piece suit and that breadth and depth of character makes him extremely fun to watch. Tonight TCM viewers can tune in and catch Taylor in a few of his best films including THE BIRDS (1963), THE TIME MACHINE (1960), DARK OF THE SUN (1968), SUNDAY IN NEW YORK (1963) and HOTEL (1967) so it seemed like a good time to share some of the interesting facts I recently discovered about him after reading Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood.”

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Spy Games: Frank Tashlin & Doris Day Go Undercover

From my latest installment of Spy Games at the Movie Morlocks:

“In the late ‘60s Doris Day starred in two spy spoofs directed by Frank Tashlin, THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT (1967) and CAPRICE (1968). At the time Day was 43-years-old and one of Hollywood’s biggest stars but her career was in decline. Critics seemed to relish taking potshots at the movies she appeared in while launching full-blown attacks on her squeaky-clean image. Day was commonly referred to as “the eternal virgin” and when the sexual revolution heated up the middle-aged actress was unfairly pigeonholed as a perpetual square. The fact remains that while many actresses were regulated to the role of sex object, wife or mother, Doris Day often played independent working-class women with professional careers who reluctantly fell in love. And while Day’s characters may have been prone to clumsy mishaps and verbal blunders, she was usually able to outsmart her male costars. Frank Tashlin seemed to understand Doris Day’s strengths as a performer and in THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT and CAPRICE he has lots of fun playing with critical assumptions and expectations.”

Want to read more? Follow the link:
Spy Games: Frank Tashlin & Doris Day Go Undercover @ TCM’s Movie Morlocks

Goodnight Phyllis, We Love You

I was disappointed to learn that Phyliss Diller had passed away last week so I devoted my recent Movie Morlocks post to her titled, Goodnight Phyllis, We Love You. Here’s a brief excerpt from my post:

The wife, mother and career woman who started life as Phyllis Ada Driver on July 17, 1917 didn’t share much in common with the funny character she created on stage. Diller didn’t smoke and the cigarette holder she always carried was merely a prop. Her husband ‘Fang’ was a fictional creation that didn’t resemble either of her two very real husbands. And while she enjoyed mocking domesticity, Diller actually enjoyed being a mother. She also loved to cook and by all accounts was a terrific chef who referred to her kitchen as the “favorite room” in her house. She liked to come across as an uncultured and unsuccessful housewife but she was actually a whip smart classically trained pianist, a jazz enthusiast, an acclaimed artist and a brilliant gag writer who wrote all of her own material. When she was performing Diller appeared to be utterly confident and self-assured even while she was cracking jokes at her own expense but she was actually deeply insecure about her appearance. She eventually resorted to countless plastic surgery procedures in an effort to transform her face and body. Simply put, Phyllis Diller was a bundle of contradictions if you believed her stage persona was actually self-referential. Much like Lucille Ball who created the ditzy character of Lucy, Phyllis Diller created an imaginary stage character that acted as a filter for her jokes and had little in common with the real woman hidden behind the carefully constructed costumes and wigs. But Diller the woman and Diller the stand-up comic both had a generous sense of humor and I’m grateful that she was able to share that with us.

To read more just follow the link . . .
Goodnight Phyllis, We Love You @ TCM’s Movie Morlocks blog

Further reading . . .
Party Tips From Phyllis Diller

The King of Comedy: Jerry Lewis at 86

My latest post at TCM’s Movie Morlocks focuses on the controversial comedian Jerry Lewis who is celebrating his birthday tomorrow. From my post:

“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.

Jerry’s said and done plenty of things that have made my toes curl and my hair stand on end. I often think of him as that loony uncle I never had who was a lady’s man in his youth and is now feeling the pull of time so he fights off melancholia with sharp barbs and off-color jokes. You enjoy spending time with him and he always makes you laugh but he can wear out his welcome mighty fast once he’s had a few too many drinks and his ego gets out of control. But when you love somebody and think their work is brilliant it’s easy to overlook their flaws and failings. And that’s the way it is between Jerry and me. I love him. Even if I don’t always like what he says and does.”

You can read the rest of my piece by following the link:
“The King of Comedy: Jerry Lewis at 86” @ TCM’s Movie Morlocks

Winter A Go-Go (1965)

Linda Rogers in a promo shot from WINTER A GO-GO (1965)

It’s cold outside and like a lot of people I’ve got a case of the post holiday blues but I also have a cure. Make your way over to the TCM Movie Morlocks blog where you can find my latest post titled “Ski Buffs and Ski Babes on the Go-Go in the Snow-Snow!” I share my take on Richard Benedict’s silly ski-themed teen movie, WINTER A GO-GO (1965) and if that title doesn’t put a smile on your face you probably shouldn’t be reading Cinebeats.

“Ski Buffs and Ski Babes on the Go-Go in the Snow-Snow!” @ TCM’s Movie Morlocks

I also created a Flickr gallery of images from the film that you can find here.

Blake Edwards and THE PARTY (1968)

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Peter Sellers and Claudine Longet in The Party (1968)

I recently wrote a piece about The Party (1968) for the newest issue of Screening the Past that you can read online. Issue #30 of Screening the Past is a tribute to the late director Blake Edwards and The Party is my favorite Edwards’ film. I really enjoyed delving into the movie again and discussing the ways in which Edwards’ film dealt with identity and the cultural climate of the the late 1960s. I admire the way that Edwards used The Party to take a swipe at old Hollywood, which is so often celebrated as “The Golden Age of Cinema” while its worst aspects like the subtle but abundant racism, sexism and religious intolerance is too often swept under the rug although not a lot has changed really. I love old movies but I have no problem discussing their faults and The Party is a great example of why I like to refer to the ’60s and the ’70s as “The Platinum Age of Cinema.” The following link will take you to my piece on The Party:
The Party @ Screening the Past

In Praise of Peter Sellers

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TCM’s “Star of the Month” for January is the one and only Peter Sellers. Sellers is one of favorite performers but I haven’t written much about him so I took the opportunity to discuss the actor and some of his best films at the Movie Morlocks today. Many of Sellers’ greatest movies such as I’m All Right Jack (1960), Lolita (1962), The Pink Panther (1963), A Shot In the Dark (1964), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Casino Royale (1967) and Being There (1979) are being showcased on TCM in the coming weeks. It’s a great opportunity for Sellers’ fans to revisit some of their favorite films and if you’re unfamiliar with his work you’ll find a wide variety of movies showing every Thursday that might spark your interest.
In Praise of Peter Sellers @ TCM’s Classic Movie Blog

Chase Away the Winter Blues with Ski Party

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Frankie Avalon and Deborah Walley in Ski Party (1965)

Happy New Year! Last week I took a much needed net break but I did manage to post my weekly Movie Morlocks update about a fun-filled ’60s teen musical comedy called Ski Party (1965). If you’re looking for a silly ’60s movie to watch during the cold winter months I recommend giving this mindless teen romp a look. It’s the kind of movie that can be enjoyed by the whole family but you might want to warm up some hot buttered rum before you watch just to lighten the mood a little.
Lets Have A Ski Party! @ TCM’s Classic Movie Blog

I Married A Witch

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Just a quick note to let readers know that TCM will be airing the great classic comedy I Married A Witch (René Clair; 1942) tonight starring the lovely & funny Veronica Lake in one of her best roles. I Married A Witch isn’t available on DVD in the US yet so if you haven’t had a chance to see it make sure you record it because it’s well worth a look. Fans of the television show Bewitched as well as movies like Bell, Book and Candle (Richard Quine ; 1959) should find I Married A Witch really entertaining. It’s one of my favorite comedies from the ’40s and it makes for some great Halloween viewing that the whole family can enjoy.

Recommended Link:
– Jeff Stafford’s article about I MARRIED A WITCH at the TCM website.

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967)

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967)

I recently watched Clive Donner’s teenage sex farce Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1967) for the first time. Soon afterward I learned that the director had died at age 84 so in tribute to Donner I decided to write about the film for TCM this week. I really enjoyed Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and had so much fun taking screen grabs from the movie that I created a small gallery for them over at Flickr. If you’d like to read my piece about Clive Donner’s film you’ll find it at the Movie Morlocks Blog.