Monday, February 1, 2021

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR FEBRUARY ON TCM

 

"Danny Hawkins dad was hanged!"

Taunted and bullied by that one phrase, by that one fact all his life, Danny Hawkins has learned to take his beatings but he doesn't have to like it. In particular, Jerry Sykes played by Lloyd Bridges takes a perverse delight in drubbing the smaller Danny through the years. Danny and Jerry have reached the point where they are rivals for the lovely schoolteacher Gilly Johnson played by Gail Russell. When Danny kills Jerry it is in self-defense, it is in self-defense that he hides the crime.

Dane Clark

Dane Clark plays Danny Hawkins. The 36-year-old actor had a filmography filled with hot-headed characters by this time and is rather mature for a character that people refer to as "the boy." Nonetheless, Clark manages to bring Danny's confused naivete to the screen in an open and sincere performance. Danny's journey is to learn to live with or to throw off the double burdens of guilt and shame.

Dane Clark, Gail Russell

Gilly: "Why are we meeting in secret places as if ... as if we were hunted? Why, Dan? What is it in your eyes that you never say?"

Gail Russell as Gilly is lovely as a girl who accepted a proposal from Jerry, the right sort of boy, but is attracted to the outsider. Danny doesn't make it easy for Gilly to offer her love and support, leaving her confused and afraid.

Selena Royle, Dane Clark

Danny was raised by his maiden Aunt Jessie played by Selena Royle. Aunt Jessie didn't try to understand him until it is too late.

Ethel Barrymore, Dane Clark

Danny's Grandma played by Ethel Barrymore is a distant figure, physically and emotionally. The role is one impactful scene played with wise understanding and strength.

Rex Ingram, Dane Clark

Mose: "Sure, I get lonesome. A man ought to have a woman. Friends, anyway. A man ought to live in a world with other folks. When I come out here, I thought I'd be out of the way, with no-one shoving me around. What I did was resign from the human race. I guess that's about the worst crime there is."

Danny has two friends. Rex Ingram plays Mose, who is the father figure Danny needs. Mose is a sounding board, a supportive and nonjudgmental friend who understands the world and Danny's place in it. If Danny is open to it, Mose can provide guidance.

Harry Morgan, Dane Clark

Danny: "Just because he's deaf and dumb don't give you the right to make fun of him."

Danny, in his own way, has befriended Billy played by Harry (Henry) Morgan. For his part, Billy worships Danny for his small kindnesses. His emotions are deep and enduring. 

Clem Bevins, Allyn Joslyn

Clem: "Sometimes murder is like love. It takes two to commit it; the man who hates and the man who is hated. The killer and the killed."

My favourite performance in the film comes from Allyn Joslyn as the philosophical Sheriff Clem Otis. The compassionate Otis is far removed from the usually brash and often obnoxious characters Joslyn was asked to play by Hollywood. The character, like many in the film, will remain with the viewer.


Moonrise was adapted by its producer and screenwriter Charles F. Haas' from Theodore Strauss' 1946 novel.

Moonrise is a psychological film-noir with outbursts of shocking violence. I find that director Frank Borzage wears a sensitive heart on his sleeve in many of his films. He presents the lonely and the isolated with dignity in 7th Heaven, Street Angel, Man's Castle, Three Comrades, The Mortal Storm, Smilin' Through, and Till We Meet Again. Borzage and cinematographer John L. Russell (Psycho) create a moody masterpiece in Moonrise.


TCM is screening Moonrise on Wednesday, February 10th at 8 PM.

Wednesday nights in February on TCM are highlighting "Noteworthy African American Performances." Rex Ingram as Mose in Moonrise will be followed by Rex as Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1939.

Films shown later that evening feature Percy Rodriguez in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and Sammy Davis Jr. in A Man Called Adam, and Convicts 4. Check the schedule for the Wednesday night lineup in February.







20 comments:

  1. I have never seen Moonrise! It sounds right up my alley and I'm a fan of Gail Russell (whose career was sadly cut short) and Ethel Barrymore. Plus, I'm intrigued to see an earlier noir by the cinematographer of Psycho.

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    1. You are in for a treat - plus, in primetime. That is one thing I don't have to complain about this month.

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  2. I saw DANE CLARK in DEEP VALLEY(47) with IDA LUPINO. FAY BAINTER was also in the movie. You just mentioned Fay last week because she was in MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW(37).

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    1. Dane was certainly a busy actor at that point in his career.

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  3. I saw SELENA ROYLE in the western BRANDED(50) which starred ALAN LADD. The lovely MONA FREEMAN was in the movie as the daughter to MISS ROYLE. Last Friday-Jan.29-was the anniversary of Alan Ladd's passing. Sadly it was in 1964 when Alan was only 50. That was 57 years ago. Happily there are a lot of his movies available for his fans to watch and for new fans to discover! Like you, I am a big fan of Alan(including his voice!). Another actor that left us too soon and had a great(and unique) voice is JEFF CHANDLER.

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    1. It is sad to consider the short lives of some of these favourite actors, but we are fortunate to still have the work which is all we ever had.

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  4. I've mentioned before that I'm a fan of HARRY MORGAN. He had a very impressive career. Of course, he is best known for two TV series-DRAGNET (1967-70) and MASH which he joined in 1975 and stayed until its ending in 1983. I remember him from some DISNEY movies especially CHARLEY AND THE ANGEL(with FRED MACMURRAY and CLORIS LEACHMAN). Also I really like THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG(with BILL BIXBY, DON KNOTTS and TIM CONWAY). SNOW BALL EXPRESS was a cute movie with DEAN JONES, NANCY OLSON and JOHNNY WHITAKER. P.S. I didn't care for THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG RIDES AGAIN.

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    1. Harry Morgan had such a long and successful career in movies and television that he is known by generations of fans for many different things.

      I got a big kick out of his bit in Dan Aykroyd's Dragnet as the Chief of Police with a picture of Jack Webb on his desk.

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  5. Paddy Lee, another fine write-up of a movie that I have never seen, and I have viewed a lot of Republic Pictures. I'll have to watch this one and thank you.

    Best, Walter S.

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    1. Thank you so much, Walter. Moonrise was new to me about a decade ago and it is a memorable and unique film.

      Frank Borzage was an amazing director. His brother Danny was a musician, and played the accordion on John Ford's sets because Ford felt it set a good work environment.

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    2. Paddy Lee, Danny Borzage was one that I have always enjoyed seeing turn up, usually playing the accordion, in so many movies and TV shows. You never knew when he would make an appearance. He even made an appearance on THE LUCY SHOW in the "Lucy And John Wayne" episode, which first aired on November 21, 1966. Borzage not only played the accordion in the saloon scene, but when Milton Berle did a walk-through cameo he stopped and shook hands with Borzage. This was the episode where Lucy managed to get ketchup all over John Wayne's face and more. A funny show.

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    3. "Iron Man Carmichael!" Oh, I haven't thought about that in ages. What a wonderful memory to share. True. You never know when Danny will show up. When Frank's name comes up I always think "Danny's brother" and now I know someone who will understand. Thanks, Walter.

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  6. Must see this. Thanks for the heads-up!

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    1. You're welcome. Usually something like this would be hidden in the TCM schedule. The primetime spotlight is a treat.

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  7. I mentioned that HARRY MORGAN was in SNOWBALL EXPRESS with NANCY OLSON. Nancy was in SUNSET BLVD. with GLORIA SWANSON, WILLIAM HOLDEN and JACK WEBB. So Nancy got to be in movies with Harry and Jack! The lovely MISS OLESON is 92.

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    1. Nancy Olson had a charming onscreen presence. I hope she is healthy and happy at 92.

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  8. Hi,
    I love discovering the smaller gems of Hollywood's golden era. Yes, women weren't the only ones who "played younger" in movies! Always thought Dane Clark was interesting, though he was often used as a backup for John Garfield. I've always thought Gail Russell was an interesting showbiz story. I wonder if anyone has written a bio on her short, tragic life. Thanks for the write up and I'll seek this one out!
    Cheers, Rick

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I know you will find Moonrise a true lost treasure.

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  9. I'm another one who hasn't seen this film. I actually cannot wait.

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