Posts Tagged ‘TCM’

My Classic Movie Pick: 1947’s Framed

My sweet mother-in-law loves all things techy and loves gadgets.  I really think my husband and his brother inherited their engineering skills from her!  A couple years ago, when ipads were brand new products on the American market, she bought one.  Jumping ahead to a year ago, she had decided that she didn’t really use the ipad much and gave it to our family, as we didn’t have one, and she knew our 5 kids still at home would use it.  Jump ahead to 4 months ago, and the ipad is mostly used by me, as a tv.  When I am cleaning up the kitchen, I grab the ipad and tune in to Youtube and watch episodes of Have Gun Will Travel-all 6 seasons have been nicely posted there and the family has grown accustomed to the show’s opening music and the ending song, about Paladin, where will you roam?

A week ago, one of my twin daughter’s was chastizing me about all of the movies I placed on our  dvr list via TCM.  She suggested I look for some of them on Youtube and watch them on the ipad.  I thought about her suggestion and decided to do that, cleaning up the dvr list in the process.  One classic film on Youtube that I stumbled upon by accident, was a tight little film noir, with a good cast, 1947’s Framed.

Framed

Noir’s are usually set in dark cities, back alleys, and smoke-filled rooms.  Not Framed-it’s set in the post-WWII sundrenched Southwestern US.   Glenn Ford stars as Mike Lambert, a down on his luck GI, who has recently graduated with a degree in Mining Engineering, but hasn’t had success in finding that first engineering job.  He has been working as an over the road truck driver  and  when he’s got enough money saved up, he’ll begin searching for that engineering job.

When the truck Mike is driving brakes fail, he accidentally hits a car owned by Jeff Cunnignham(the always great Edgar Buchanan) a local miner  trying to find that mother lode.  The cops arrest Mike as he’s forgotten to have his driver’s license in his wallet or in the truck, and it’s off to jail he goes.  A very attractive barmaid, Paula Craig(Janis Carter) pays the fine to get Mike out of jail.  He wonders why, but we soon find out…she and her married banker boyfriend(Barry Sullivan) have a criminal plot lined up and all they needed was a foil to make the plan work.  Run, Mike, run!!!!!

Mike about to be arrested for the truck accident

Mike about to be arrested for the truck accident

Paula bails Mike out of jail

Paula bails Mike out of jail

Finding a friend in Miner Jeff Cunningham

Finding a friend in Miner Jeff Cunningham

I was very unfamiliar with Janis Carter.  A beautiful blonde, she is great in this role as the duplicitous Paula-a femme fatale up there with the best of them.  I could see her battle with Bette Davis’s femme fatale in The Letter, and Janis would probably win!  She is good at playing coy with Ford’s Mike, demanding with Sullivan’s Steve, the bank manager, managing to keep her affair with Steve on the downlow which if you’ve ever lived in a small town is pretty near impossible.  She’s also excellent at putting on the charm, which helps her get what she wants all the time. I could easily see her throwing both Steve and Mike off a cliff to get the money and just fly off into the sunset.

Going over their robbery plan one more time

Going over their robbery plan one more time

Framed's Paula and her married lover, Steve, bank manager

Framed’s Paula and her married lover, Steve, bank manager

Ford is good as the innocent Mike.  I don’t mean innocent in that his character is naive, but innocent as he doesn’t know about the crime Paula and Steve are plotting to commit.  He does start to figure something isn’t on the up and up with those two, especially when his new friend, miner Jeff, gets framed for a murder.  Mike knows Jeff is being framed and he sets out to find the real killer.

Barry Sullivan is really young in this movie-I mainly know him from his tv roles which he played when he was  a senior citizen.  He’s good in a smallish part, and I loved the scene where his wife, suspecting the affair, slaps him a good one across the face.  You rock, Mrs. Price!!!  (Mrs. Price was played by Karen Morley.)

Studio publicity pic of Carter and Ford playing cards

Studio publicity pic of Carter and Ford playing cards

If you want to experience a fast-paced film noir, with a good plot, good acting, and not a bad video transfer onto Youtube, seek out 1947’s Framed.  Distributed by Columbia Pictures.  Directed by Richard Wallace.  Screenplay by Ben Maddow and John Patrick, from a story by John Patrick.  Cinematography by Burnett Guffey.  Interestingly, this film came out after Ford’s starring in Gilda, with Rita Hayworth.  So, Columbia, trying to cash in on Ford via Gilda, for Framed’s movie posters and ads, pretty much all show Ford gripping Carter to show he’s in control of this woman.  However, when one watches Framed, it’s pretty much Carter’s character controlling Ford’s character up to the midpoint of the film.  Movie posters can be very misleading!!

Here's an example of one of the misleading movie posters for Framed

Here’s an example of one of the misleading movie posters for Framed

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My Classic Movie Pick: Mighty Joe Young

I stumbled upon Mighty Joe Young last week when it aired on cable’s Turner Classic Movies.  For the month of February and into the first week of March until the Oscars are aired on March 2nd, TCM has been showing films that won Academy Awards.  If a film won for best actor, best actress, best film, best director, best supporting players, best music, best screenplay, they have been shown on the channel.  Why did Mighty Joe Young make this list?  It won the Academy Award in 1950 for Best Special Effects, and wow-does it have them, in large part to the  special effects talent of the late Ray Harryhausen.

Mighty Joe screen shot

Merian C. Cooper, while at RKO Studios, had written a screenplay about a giant ape, in love with a beautiful woman, who ends up terrorizing NYC-1933’s smash hit, King Kong.  Fast forward to 1949 and Cooper brought forth an idea for a story that he had shelved years ago, about another giant ape loose, this time,  in Hollywood.   Getting the greenlight from RKO Studios, Cooper brought on the director who had helmed  King Kong, Ernest B. Schoedsack.  Cooper also hired Willis O’Brien, who had done the special effects for King Kong to do the same work for Mighty Joe Young.  Working for “Obie”, as O’Brien was nicknamed, were 2 new animators, Ray Harryhausen and Pete Peterson.

Ray Harryhausen working with the Mighty Joe model

Ray Harryhausen working with the Mighty Joe model

Pete Peterson with Mighty Joe and truck for the car chase scenes

Pete Peterson with Mighty Joe and truck for the car chase scenes

Mighty Joe Young opens in Africa where Jill Young, age 8,(Lora Lee Michel) lives on a farm with her  widower father, Mr. Young(Regis Toomey.)  Mr. Young is away for the moment and Jill sees two natives approaching with a basket suspended by ropes attached to two poles.  She can tell that something alive is in the covered basket and asks to buy it.  The two natives are tired and agree to sit and wait for Jill to gather up treasures for the expected bartering session.   Jill finds some coins, toys, a music box, and her father’s large flashlight. The flashlight seals the deal and Jill now owns the covered basket.  When she opens it she finds a baby gorilla, and quickly names him Joe.  Mr. Young isn’t too pleased that Jill bought this creature and gave away his new flashlight but as he finally gives his assent, he reminds Jill that when the gorilla is bigger she’ll have to release him to the wild.

The movie jumps forward 12 years to NYC where we meet entertainment creator Max O’Hara(Robert Armstrong-who also starred in Cooper’s King Kong.)  O’Hara  is telling his business partner Windy(Frank McHugh) about his plans to head to Africa and capture animals for the opening of his new nightclub in Hollywood, a nightclub that will have an exotic feel and theme.  Loping into O’Hara’s office is cowboy Gregg Johnson(Ben Johnson) who explains to O’Hara that the rodeo has closed for the season and  that he and some of his cowboy pals have heard about the trip to Africa to capture animals and would O’Hara want to hire them for their skills at roping and catching cattle and horses?  O’Hara jumps at this offer and they’re off to Africa.

One day in the camp everyone hears some of the caught lions roaring and the natives begin running away in fear.  A louder roar is heard and as the cowboys and O’Hara investigate, they meet Joe, now a huge gorilla.  The cowboys try to rope him and  Joe manages to grab O’Hara.  As he is about to hurl O’Hara off of a rocky ledge, Jill appears, scolding Joe and urges him to gently put the man down.  Joe obeys and Jill leads him home.  O’Hara is excited-he must get that gorilla for his new nightclub!  With the help of cowboy Gregg they find Jill’s farm and apologize to her for scaring her and Joe.  Jill admits that with her father’s recent death, she is all alone, she’s never been away from Africa, and with that information, O’Hara convinces Jill that by bringing Joe to Hollywood to star at the new nightclub, that she will be a new star and earn a lot of money.  Gregg, who is obviously taken with the cute Jill, smiles a lot and reassures her that it would be a great opportunity for a new adventure.  Jill agrees and it is off to Hollywood.

Jill telling Joe to put O'Hara down!

Jill and Joe performing one of their nightclub acts-a tug of war with strong men

The rest of the movie is pretty predictable.  Joe and Jill do become famous, but are miserable.  Some boorish drunks unwittingly make Joe angry and he’s able to break out of his holding cell in the basement of the nightclub.  This happens while Jill is having dinner with Gregg.  Joe wreaks havoc with the nightclub and is declared a menace that needs to be put down.  O’Hara realizes he was wrong to bring Joe to Hollywood and should have left him in Africa and comes up with a plan to rescue Joe before his scheduled death will be carried out by the local police, per a judge’s order.   O’Hara, Gregg, and Jill launch a daring escape for Joe and a way to get he and Jill back to Africa.

Jill and Joe in a humiliating nightclub act

Jill and Joe in a humiliating nightclub act

While the plot is forumlaic and the acting lurching from hammy(Armstrong, at times) to bland(Ben Johnson-his first movie role after coming away from rodeos and he did get better, eventually winning a best supporting actor Oscar in 1971 for The Last Picture Show), and the usually funny Frank McHugh is wasted in a tiny role in my opinion, I do believe Mighty Joe Young should be seen for the special effects.  These effects were done before home computers were ever thought of, or CGI(computer generated imagery).   The special effects fill this movie and elevate it to a higher plane.  These are the scenes: the cowboys trying to rope and capture Joe, Joe dangling O’Hara over a rock ledge, the nightclub acts that Joe and Jill have to perform, the three drunks hassling Joe and giving him bottles of whiskey to drink, Joe breaking loose from his cell and destroying the nightclub, Joe on the run with Jill, Gregg, and O’Hara, Joe’s rescue of an orphan from a burning orphanage. That scene is on Youtube and can be viewed here.

I also found an interesting website on the life and career of the late Ray Harryhausen that is worth a visit and one can do so by clicking here.  Lastly, also on Youtube, there is an interview with Harryhausen and the making of Mighty Joe Young!  View that interview here.

You may have already seen the Disney version of Mighty Joe Young, made in 1998 and starring Charlize Theron and Bill Paxton, but you really owe it to yourself and any kids in your life to see the 1949 original and its fantastic, award-winning special effects.

Mighty Joe poster 2