Caftan Woman

Caftan Woman

Sunday, February 19, 2017

THIRD ANNUAL BUSTER KEATON BLOGATHON: THREE BOOKS ABOUT BUSTER


BUSTER KEATON
1895 - 1966
Portrait by Janet Clare Hall, 2016


This year is a special one for our hostess Lea of Silent-Ology because her Third Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon coincides with the 100th anniversary of Buster entering the film business. Let's celebrate.! Click HERE for the all the fun.

Buster Keaton makes us laugh. Even more than that, Buster Keaton inspires us. His persevering character in silent films inspires us to develop that characteristic in our own lives. His life and art in turn inspires our own creativity. His story inspires interpretation and sharing.





Certainly the best way to introduce anyone, but especially youngsters, to Buster Keaton is through his films. Read HERE about my young niece Lenny's first movie theatre experience at a screening of The Navigator. If you can follow up that successful outing with a relateable picture book, then you can be assured of having made a fan for life.

Written and illustrated by Catherine Brighton and published in 2008, Keep Your Eye on the Kid, the Early Years of Buster Keaton combines the facts and legends of Buster's life from his born in a trunk beginnings to his entry into films. Along the way we learn about Vaudeville, about the skills Buster picked up, his education and his interests. We learn about the pioneering years of motion pictures. We meet the famous people who influenced Buster from Harry Houdini to Fatty Arbuckle.

The youngster hearing or reading this story will develop a kinship with the kid Buster - one of their own. Perhaps they will be inspired in their life as Buster was in his.




KEATON COMEDIES
A Toby Bradley Adventure
by Harold D. Sill, Jr.


Illustration by Mike Eagle of Buster in Steamboat Bill Jr. for Sill's book.

Published in 1977, Harold Sill's Young Adult novel takes teenager Toby Bradley on a ghostly time travel adventure with Buster Keaton. The spectre Keaton whisks Toby back to 1920s Hollywood to give the youngster a first-hand, behind-the-scenes taste of how Buster put together some of his most famous and awesome stunts beginning with that falling house in Steamboat Bill Jr. to the racing motorcycle in Sherlock, Jr. to the cliffhanger in Our Hospitality.

Away from the studio, Toby gets a glimpse of life in the 1920s; the fashions, the celebrities and the automobiles. Along with learning about movies, which is fascinating to many tweens and teens, the reader gets a very easy to swallow history lesson. The book is a total charmer. Toby had a follow-up adventure published in 1978 with Fats Waller.






Inspired by the autobiography My Wonderful World of Slapstick and Buster's tales of The Actors' Colony founded at Bluffton by his dad Joe Keaton, Matt Phelan's beautiful graphic novel was published in 2013.

A summer home for Vaudevillians and actors by a lake in Muskegon, Michigan, the Colony existed from 1908 to 1938. Buster's vacation home during his youth is the basis for the story of a kid from the show business and a kid with stars in his eyes, and both finding their way.

Henry works in his father's hardware store, handles his chores at home and daydreams when the actors come to town. Never having seen a Vaudeville show makes the strangers even more fascinating to Henry. They bring elephants and zebras, and their own extraordinary personalities to upset the daily grind.

Henry becomes pals with a couple of kids his age; the baseball mad Buster Keaton, star of the Three Keatons, and Lex Neal, the son of actors and a future film writer. Henry enjoys hanging out with his newfound friends. He is proud of the association and admires and is jealous of Buster. Henry longs to really belong in this group. He tries to put together his own juggling act without success. He tries to get Buster to teach him some of his tricks, but it is summer and Buster would much rather play baseball. While Henry sees only glamour in Buster's trade it appears Buster sees things about Henry's regular routine that have great appeal. For one thing, Buster's stated dream of becoming a mechanical engineer is at odds with his lack of education. 

The bond of friendship, along with the hurts youth can inflict on each other, are a part of each succeeding summer as the boys mature.  Time passes and Henry comes to appreciate the life his family afford him. He grows up to marry the girl he's always liked and retains a connection to his friend, Buster Keaton.

The charming illustrations and the knowing text make all of the characters endearingly real in Bluffton. It brings to life an era long gone, but which deserves a place in our memory. A delightful story to share with children and a touchingly nostalgic tale for an adult curled up in their favourite reading chair.










Saturday, February 18, 2017

90 YEARS OF SIDNEY POITIER BLOGATHON: The Slender Thread (1965)


Virginie at The Wonderful World of Cinema is hosting this blogathon in celebration of the 90th birthday of Sidney Poitier. The blogathon runs from February 18 - 20. Click HERE to join the party.


The Slender Thread was written by Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night, TVs Route 66, Naked City) based on a magazine article by Shana Alexander. Silliphant was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best screenplay for this involving drama. The film was director Sidney Pollack's first feature after years of television films and episodes.  Its stars, Sidney Poitier and Anne Bancroft, were recent winners of Academy Awards for Lilies of the Field and The Miracle Worker, respectively.



Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier portrays Alan Newell, a university student volunteering one night a week at a crisis centre. On the night we meet him Alan is manning the centre on his own while the boss, Dr. Coburn played by Telly Savalas (Kojak), takes some down time.  It is on this night that Alan crosses paths with Inga Dyson.



Anne Bancroft

Anne Bancroft plays Inga, a 30-year-old married mother of a 12 year old son. A past long buried and forgotten has caught up with her and is tearing her marriage to pieces. Steven Hill (Law and Order) plays Mark, Inga's estranged husband. There are days when our problems overwhelm us, when we can see nothing ahead but unhappiness. This is such a day for Inga. She needs someone to talk to, but she doesn't seek that someone until after she has swallowed a bottle full of pills. That someone is Alan and the race is on to save the woman at the end of the phone line who has so much to live for.

The resources of the telephone company are deployed for tracing the call which proves more problematic than expected. Police, including an off duty detective with no home life played by Ed Asner (Lou Grant) joins uniformed patrol on the search. Alan is more that willing to turn the phone over to his boss as the pressure of the case wears on him. However, he has established a rapport with Inga and the importance of the relationship they are forming is paramount. Alan must learn to trust his instincts in this nerve-wracked night.



Sidney Poitier, Telly Savalas, Indus Arthur

"Look, Inga. Please get this straight. I'm up to my ears in lessons I've been taught long before I picked up this phone tonight. I've been taught, so lessons I don't need, you understand? Good people I do. You watch the walls close in on you. Me too. You've been ignored or studied out of the corners of people's eyes. Me too. You've been suffered and tolerated. Me too. Okay. Times are bad. Things stink. The world is a cinder in your eye, but what is the alternative? Now I ask you, Inga, what in god's name is the alternative? Every time I breathe, every breath I take, every gulp, it's like it's got bubbles in it - it's heady. Now why can't you reach out and hang on to me, feel what I feel? Why can't you come into my world?"

We follow the story from the tense atmosphere in the crisis centre office to Inga's memories of what brought her to this fateful night. We see her as a sad and introspective woman at the Seattle Center, at her suburban home, at the beach where she first attempts suicide, the hospital, a church and a discotheque.

Our two leading characters never meet in this story, but the connection established by the actors with their distinctive voices and emotionally fine-tuned performances keep us caring for them.  Reminiscent of the great television dramas of the 1950s, The Slender Thread is a fine showcase for Poitier and Bancroft, as well as an impressive movie debut for Pollack.


PS: If the girl at the switchboard looks familiar, it is Charlotte Stewart (My Three Sons, Little House on the Prairie).











Friday, February 10, 2017

THE MARY POPPINS CONUNDRUM



I was 7 years old the year Mary Poppins was released. The emotions associated with that movie are still vivid to this day. Sitting in the theatre I was entranced by the music and the look of the movie. I recall thinking that David Tomlinson was the best actor in the world. I truly felt for his plight at the bank.  My parents bought the soundtrack album and as eldest child of, at that time 3 sisters, I took control and practically wore it out with the playing.

I remember the deep satisfaction of sitting up straight in bed the night I finally (finally!) managed to say supercalifragilisticexpealidocious all the way through perfectly for the first time.

Nonetheless, there is something about Mary Poppins that always puzzles and concerns me, from the very first viewing on the big screen to the many viewings associated with my son Gavin putting Mary Poppins on a video or DVD return loop. (The boys in my family have this thing for Julie Andrews.)




Perhaps, like me, you too are plagued or blessed with a sweet tooth and find the scene in the chalk drawing equally disturbing.

Settling into the charming cafe, our Mary sings : -

Now then, what would be nice
We'll start with raspberry ice
And then some cakes and tea

The obliging waiters respond : -

Order what you will
There'll be no bill
It's complimentary




However, did you see anyone bring raspberry ice? Not to mention cakes and tea? Did you? No! Nobody did; not then and not now - not ever. 

All they get is a floor show! No eats!










Saturday, February 4, 2017

O CANADA! BLOGATHON: JOE SAWYER


Joe Sawyer
(1906 - 1982)


The Maple Leaf Forever! It is time once again for the O Canada Blogathon hosted by Kristina of Speakeasy and Ruth of Silver Screenings and running from February 3 - 5.   Day 1.  Day 2.  Day 3.

Above is a picture of an old pal of mine, Sgt. Biff O'Hara. Are you acquainted with Sgt. Biff? He was stationed at Fort Apache on the TV series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (1954-1959). I didn't watch the show during its initial run, not being around at the time, but in the 60s the show was on air immediately after school and I would settle in for fun and the promised-in-the-title adventures.

Biff O'Hara was played by Joe Sawyer, born Joseph Sauers in Guelph, Ontario on August 29, 1906. The Guelph Mercury Tribune published an article on the city's native son including an interview with one of Joe's sons, Riley in 2014.  Joe was raised in Guelph, attending school there, but worked summers on a relative's Saskatchewan farm. Somehow all of this instilled in the young man both a strong work habit and a desire for the stage.

Joe had a role in a brief Broadway run in 1930 of a revival of The Inspector General. After that, it was the sunshine of California and training at the famed Pasadena Playhouse. Bit roles in films followed including The Public Enemy, Arsene Lupin, Shopworn, The Stranger's Return, Ace of Aces, The Case of the Howling Dog, Death on the Diamond and The Whole Town's Talking. These and other movies are fun on their own, but I have even more fun by playing "spot Joe Sawyer", especially in Warner Brothers flicks.



"Now just behave yourselves and nobody will get hurt. This is Duke Mantee, the world famous killer, and he's hungry."
The Petrified Forest

An outstanding role came Sawyer's way as Barty Mullholland, an IRA hit man in John Ford's Oscar winning 1935 film The Informer. Sawyer would be on familiar ground as a henchman in the same year's The Arizonian featuring The Informer co-star Margot Grahame. 1936 would bring what I think of as Sawyer's ultimate henchman role, among dozens, as Jackie, the hot-headed second to Humphrey Bogart's escaped convict in The Petrified Forest.



"Someday I'm gonna catch that ape without his stripes on and I'm gonna kick his teeth out."
The Roaring Twenties

Sawyer definitely doesn't do Bogie any favours as the member of a hate group modeled on the KKK in 1937s The Black Legion. He's behind bars in 1937s San Quentin, and a hated (by Bogie anyway) WWI sergeant in The Roaring Twenties. Things don't end well back in the States.

The 1940s find Joe Sawyer in a number of films with a variety of roles. Classic titles include The Long Voyage Home and The Grapes of Wrath. Joe was featured in popular westerns such as The Dark Command, Santa Fe Trail, They Died With Their Boots On, The Outlaw and Coroner Creek.

Comedies benefited from Joe Sawyer's talents including Brewster's Millions, The Naughty Nineties and The Singing Sheriff starring Bob Crosby. You like film-noir? You'll find Sawyer strutting around the casino in Gilda and as a lovelorn drunk in Deadline at Dawn. I'm fond of him as a private detective in the oddball Christmas Eve, which works best in the wee hours of the title evening with a little bottled Holiday cheer.



"Don't worry about Frank. He'll be alright."
It Came from Outer Space

1950s features with Joe Sawyer include distinguished films such as Kubrick's The Killing and Richard Brooks' Deadline - U.S.A. Some movies may be less distinguished, but still favourites like It Came From Outer Space, Red Skies of Montana and The Kettles in the Ozarks.

During the 1930s, not wanting to rely on movie bits, Joe Sawyer turned to the construction business and did very well building homes. According to his son Riley, Joe enjoyed the life that both businesses provided for his family. Joe could indulge in his hobbies, including fishing, shooting, reading, cars, and enjoying card games and relaxing times with good friends like John Wayne and Bela Lugosi.

Joe and his beloved second wife June Golden, a former MGM starlet, had 5 children and a happy marriage until her death from leukemia in 1960. Joe's family relates that he started turning away from life after the loss, but it was John Wayne who talked him back into work with a part in North to Alaska. After one more movie bit in How the West Was Won, Joe would return full time to his property development business which included houses, shopping centres and a hospital.

In his golden years Joe enjoyed travelling the world, until illness forced him to settle down. Joe Sawyer passed from liver cancer in his 75th year on April 21, 1982. Riley Sawyer's quote from the newspaper article says everything, "He was a great father".











Wednesday, February 1, 2017

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR FEBRUARY ON TCM


It is the time of year when TCM celebrates 31 Days of Oscar. I think this year's kicker of showing titles in alphabetical order is both clever and cute. Those of us with a fondness for Comedy, sub-genre: Screwball will find a treat brought to us under the letter "M".

1938s Merrily We Live's pedigree for inclusion in the lineup is a whopping 5 "count 'em" 5 Oscar nominations. They are listed here along with the winners in each category. 

Best supporting actress, Billie Burke (Fay Bainter, Jezebel)
Best cinematography, Norbert Brodine (Joseph Ruttenberg, The Great Waltz)
Best art direction, Charles Hall (Carl Jules Weyl, The Adventures of Robin Hood)
Best sound recording, Elmer Raguse (Thomas T. Moulton, The Cowboy and the Lady)
Best music, original song: Merrily We Live by Phil Chariq and Arthur Quenzer (Thanks for the Memory, The Big Broadcast of 1938)

PS: I would have found room on those acting lists to include Alan Mowbray and Clarence Kolb.

Noted Washington, DC newspaper correspondent J. Chauncey Cory and his wife Edith Rathbone Brainerd collaborated as authors under the name E.J. Rath. Their comic novel The Dark Chapter was first adapted as a play by Courtenay Savage called They All Want Something that had a brief run on Broadway in 1926. Screenwriters Eddie Moran and Jack Jevne gave us this feature along with Topper, Wonder Man, Topper Takes a Trip, Wintertime and There Goes My Heart. Other versions of the story are 1930s What a Man and 1955s Escuela de vagabundos aka School for Tramps

Surprisingly, or not considering the Academy, Merrily We Live's director Norman Z. McLeod was never nominated for the award despite his many classic comedies including Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, It's a Gift, Topper, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Road to Rio. Like Bill Wellman, Norman McLeod was a veteran aviator of WWI. An artistic bent led him to begin his picture career as an animator.




Who are these people who live so merrily? The Kilbourne household is wealthy, sub-genre: eccentric. All and sundry are at the passive-aggressive bidding of the scatterbrained mistress of the household played by Billie Burke (Dinner at Eight). Mrs. Kilbourne's privilege takes a charitable turn in that she feels blessings must be shared. Her particular charitable cause is that of tramps. She takes tramps into her home to reform them. Invariably these tramps make off with the family silver leaving her disappointed, but undaunted.

Who suffers most from these actions? It is Grosvenor, the butler played by Alan Mowbray (Terror by Night). He suffers at the hands of the family, at the disrespect of his underlings and mostly from the very presence of the tramps. Grosvenor will leave one of these days, mark his words. His bag is always packed.




Clarence Kolb (His Girl Friday) plays Mr. Kilbourne, the supporter of the nonsense under his roof. I never knew a man could put up with so much nonsense and take so many pratfalls! Bonita Granville (These Three) is young daughter Marian, a smart aleck of the first order. Tom Brown (In Old Chicago) is the lone son and feels every inch the outcast. Oldest sister Geraldine is played by Constance Bennett (Topper) and she deftly plays the both roles of peacekeeper and instigator in a family that thrives on patter and gags.

Fashion note: Constance Bennett looks divine in both her casual and formal wear designed by Irene. Howard Greer designed the costumes for Billie Burke and she never looked more divine.

Into this garden spot comes Rawlins played by Brian Aherne (The Great Garrick). Wade Rawlins is an author on vacation. An author on vacation who doesn't shave, dresses shabbily and runs into car trouble. All he wants is to use the Kilbourne's phone, but Mrs. Kilbourne immediately and confusingly takes him under her wing as another tramp who needs saving. Rawlins puts up with it because he is amused by the lady of the house and he is intrigued by Geraldine. Once shaved, Rawlins become the object of affection for Geraldine, Marian and the household staff of Etta played by Patsy Kelly (Rosemary's Baby) and Rosa played by Marjorie Kane (The Dentist).

You can well imagine the sorts of mix-ups and hijinks that occur under these circumstances. When Ann Dvorak (Scarface) as a senator's daughter, mistakes Rawlins for another guest  at an important dinner party and not the help, everybody's life gets turned upside down.




Merrily We Live is a grand tangle of sight and physical gags, along with deliciously goofy and barbed dialogue delivered with aplomb by an expert cast. I promise you laughs and the movie will deliver.

TCM has Merrily We Live scheduled for Thursday, February 16th at 5:00 a.m. on the TCM programming day. Possibly in your thinking it is early on February 17th. Some of us do think like Billie Burke from time to time.

PS: There are Pat Flaherty, Olin Howland and Willie Best sightings for those into such things.







Wednesday, January 11, 2017

SPENDING TIME WITH SHERLOCK: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)



20th Century Fox, especially under the auspices of Darryl Zanuck in the 1930s, was adept and successful at historical dramas and literary adaptations. Consider the quality and entertainment value in Lloyds of London, Steamboat 'Round the Bend, Wee Willie Winkie, Kidnapped, Jesse James, Young Mr. Lincoln, Stanley and Livingstone, Drums Along the Mohawk and The Little Princess.




Then, as now, the world could never get enough of Arthur Conan Doyle's creation, the consulting detective of Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes. William Gillette was the first to adapt Holmes for the stage and the recently "found" film version of the great actor in the role is a treasure, yet only one of countless screen versions of Holmes stories.

In 1939 another actor was added to the roll call of Holmes portrayers when Basil Rathbone was perfectly cast as the detective in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Ernest Pascal (Kidnapped, Wee Willie Winkie, Canyon Passage) adapted Conan Doyle's story and the film was directed by Sidney Lanfield (The Lemon Drop Kid, Station West). Nigel Bruce was tagged to play Dr. John Watson and he and Rathbone displayed a chemistry that immediately captured audience's imaginations. Another success and feather in the studio's cap.

The "Hound" was soon followed by The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. The screenplay by Edwin Blum and William Drake is credited as being adapted from Gillette's play, but I see scant similarities. Nonetheless, the story is a grand, if somewhat messy, pastiche of all we love about the brilliant and quirky Sherlock Holmes.



Any old cab in a rainstorm.
Rathbone and Zucco

Like the previous film, "Adventures" is set in the 1890s era of the original stories. The exciting opening finds an indifferent Professor Moriarty, played by the one and only George Zucco, on trial for murder. The criminal mastermind has placed the court with no option but to exonerate him of the charge, Holmes arriving too late with critical information. In a shared cab ride through rainy, cobblestoned London Moriarty expresses his distaste for Holmes' constant meddling in his affairs. He informs the detective that he will devise and commit the greatest crime of all-time, thus eliminating the troublesome snoop before a gracious retirement. Challenge accepted.



The violin, the arms, an experiment, footwear as tobacco holder
Home, sweet home.

The Baker Street flat is a comfortable abode made more so by its inhabitants. Mary Gordon is a fussy and vague Mrs. Hudson. Terry Kilburn is young Billy who sweeps and tidies while picking up the tips of the trade. Nigel Bruce is the faithful, but befuddled Dr. Watson who supports his friend as we would all like to be supported. 

Henry Stephenson plays Sir Ronald Ramsgate who is in charge of the safety of the crown jewels in the Tower of London. The imminent arrival of a gift from India of a precious emerald has Sir Ronald concerned. Threats have been made against the gem which require Holmes attention. Holmes is not as enamoured of this task as he might be, but agrees to assist Sir Ronald.



If ever there was a damsel in distress, it is Miss Ann Brandon.
Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino, on the brink of her break-out roles in The Light That Failed, They Drive by Night and High Sierra plays Miss Ann Brandon. The young society woman is distraught over threatening letters that harken back to her father's murder of a decade ago. She is worried for her brother's life and she has grown distrustful of her fiance Jerrold Hunter played by Alan Marshal. Mr. Holmes is the only one who can help her. Holmes is intrigued by Miss Brandon and the puzzle she poses which includes a cryptic drawing and exotic music. The death of her brother in a public park by means which elude the police, as exemplified by E.E. Clive as Inspector Bristol, makes the case irresistible. Only good old Watson has the wherewithal to remind his friend that they have another case of equal importance. Ah, have you forgotten about Sir Ronald as well?



I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside
Man of many disguises and talents.

Professor Moriarty hasn't forgotten anything; not his promise to Holmes, not the revenge seeking South American in his employ and not the crown jewels. Ah, Holmes, will you be letting the archcriminal put his plan over? I will certainly not place Miss Brandon's life below the security of the Tower, but isn't Holmes having just a little too much fun in his disguise as a music hall entertainer?



Even his own mother wouldn't know him.
Zucco, Stephenson, Bruce

Holmes' enjoyment in his role may almost match Moriarty's pleasure in playing one officious police officer by the name of Sergeant Bullfinch! I daresay he enjoys this aspect of his plan as much as his constant berating of his servant Dawes played by Frank Dawson or his belittling the brain capacity of his henchman Bassick played by Arthur Hohl. He's a scamp is our Moriarty!



The game's afoot!
Bruce, Rathbone

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes simply oozes atmosphere from its foggy city streets to the enticing garden of a country home. Noirish shadows play about London Bridge and the criminal activities in the Tower. Leon Shamroy, who won all of his Oscars (Leave Her to Heaven, The Black Swan, Cleopatra) for colour cinematography paints us a background right out of Sidney Paget's imagination for our characters to play out the story.



"Elementary, my dear Watson."
Rathbone, Bruce

Why this story wasn't immediately followed with another Rathbone - Bruce outing is a mystery. Was it the timing or availability of personnel, too many other irons in the fire, inability to get a script together? That last thought seems highly unlikely, but whatever the reason The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the last we would see of our leads in the Victorian setting. Three years would pass before Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce would again play the beloved characters of Holmes and Watson. Universal Studios would revive the series (12 in all) bringing the team to a contemporary setting to settle the Nazi's hash in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror. Who better?






Thursday, December 29, 2016

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR JANUARY ON TCM



Alfred Hitchcock was a funny guy. Certainly he was a master at setting up a movie thrill and keeping us on the edge of our seats, but it is the sly humour that permeates his best work that sets him above other directors in the field. When our heroes find themselves in dire straits they invariably resort to cracking wise. The self-deprecating, deadpan humour in the scripts for The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes and The Man Who Knew Too Much very much align with the personality Hitch presented to the world.  It was that droll personality that made the director such a popular host of TVs Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Many of his villains display this wonderfully wry sensibility from Paul Lukas in The Lady Vanishes to Herbert Marshall in Foreign Correspondent to Ray Milland in Dial M for Murder to James Mason in North by Northwest. There are times during the pictures where we almost root for the rotters!

British author Jack Trevor Story's novel The Trouble with Harry was published in 1949. Story was a prolific writer in a number of genres and went on to be a television writer and personality. John Michael Hayes wrote the screenplay, one of four collaborations with Hitchcock during this period including Rear Window, To Catch a Thief and The Man Who Knew Too Much. In The Trouble With Harry Hitch and Hayes made a cinematic drink of dry, nonsensical British humour and served it to the American public straight, no chaser. Box office success did not follow and the film would not find its audience for quite a while. Firstly, this was one of the legacy picture lost to public viewing until the 1980s and secondly, the joys of British humour courtesy of PBS, etc. had finally found its niche in America.




The beautiful and tranquil Vermont village, stunningly filmed in Technicolor by Hitch's favourite collaborator Robert Burks, is populated by a most quirky citizenry. Upon first meeting these individuals you may find yourself shaking your head and wondering about their sanity. However, by the end of the picture you will find yourself in accord with their off-kilter worldview. It may not even take that long as you are helped along by Saul Steinberg's amusing opening credits accompanied by Bernard Herrmann's cheeky score, his first with Hitchcock.



Arnie: "I'll try not to see him tomorrow."

A young boy, Arnie played by Jerry Mathers, discovers a corpse in the midst of the multi-coloured fallen leaves. This discovery does not leave the kid traumatized as he is a kid and his mind switches to other things of interest quickly. However, he is prescient enough to inform his mother, Jennifer played by Shirley MacLaine in her screen debut, of the man in the woods. Jennifer, instead of being disturbed by the occurrence, seems rather pleased. 



Arnie:  "You think she's pretty, you should see my slingshot."

A retired sea captain (more or less), Albert played by Edmund Gwenn, believes himself to be inadvertently responsible for the death of the stranger through a hunting accident. A local artist (modern), Sam played by John Forsythe, endeavours to assist the captain in his attempts to avoid any difficulties with authority figures. This assistance leads Sam to the lovely young mother and his interest increases.



Miss Gravely:  "What seems to be the trouble, Captain?"

Meanwhile, the captain also becomes involved in an unexpected romance with Miss Gravely played by Mildred Natwick. The spinster has her own reasons for suspecting she is at the heart of the matter plaguing this assembled band of conspirators. It is all so annoying!

Mildred Dunnock plays storekeeper Mrs. Wiggs. She knows everybody. She thinks she knows everything, but she's not in on the Harry business. After all, her son Calvin, played by Royal Dano, is a deputy sheriff. When you are trying to hide a murdered man, it does not pay to have a deputy sheriff hanging about. 



Miss Gravely:  "I wanted to be certain it would fit a man."

The acting ensemble expertly handles the silliness of the appearing and disappearing body of Harry Worp, the man who will not stay buried. So many things might go wrong. Can Arnie be trusted to keep his mouth shut? Will pride stand in the way of Sam actually making a sale? What about that teacup Miss Gravely purchases? What about Jennifer's short fuse? 

The Trouble with Harry makes me laugh and, in many ways, is a thoughtful and comforting movie. Prepare your eyes for a feast of Technicolor and your funny bone for a tickling that will last long after the movie has ended.

TCM is screening The Trouble With Harry on Sunday, January 1st at 4:30 am. It ends a full day of Hitchcock films that begins at 6:00 am with Rope. Remember, in the world of TCM a day is begins at 6 am and ends the following morning, same time. In the outside world, we might consider it 4:30 am on Monday the 2nd of January. If you are confused, The Trouble With Harry will not help you!