Friday, December 11, 2015

It Happened on Fifth Avenue (1947)

Looking for something new for your holiday viewing this year?  Look no further than the little-known 1947 heartwarmer It Happened on Fifth Avenue. Directed by Roy Del Ruth, this delightful film stars Victor Moore, Don DeFore, Charlie Ruggles, Ann Harding, and Gale Storm.  Since catching this 4-star charmer when it made its TCM premiere in 2009 (as one of their holiday movies), our family has included it in our own holiday viewing schedule.  Although the setting is more winter than Christmas---with the exception of a small tree-trimming/Christmas Eve scene---I think the message of the movie shouts that this is a holiday movie.

The story takes place on Fifth Avenue in New York City, at the home of the extremely wealthy Michael O'Connor (Charlie Ruggles).  Every winter, from November 1st to March 15th, O'Connor closes up his mansion and heads south to Virginia.  What he doesn't know is that after he moves out, the homeless Aloysius McKeever (Victor Moore) moves in.

This particular year, McKeever runs into Jim Bullock (Don DeFore), whose apartment building has just been sold, sending him to the streets in search of new living arrangements.  Unable to find anything, Jim is resting on a park bench when McKeever meets up with him.  Telling Jim he lives alone, McKeever invites Jim to be his guest for the evening.  Jim has no idea Mac (as he calls McKeever) is living in the home with the owner unaware, so he accepts the offer.

That same evening, O'Connor's daughter, Trudy (Gale Storm), who has run away from her finishing school, arrives at the house, and not wanting Mac and Jim to know of her connection to the very wealthy O'Connor, she invents a story about being in town looking for a job.  She, too, is invited to remain a guest in the mansion, and very soon, she and Jim are in love with one another.

Before long, two of Jim's Army buddies---unable to find a suitable apartment---are calling the O'Connor mansion home, and then when O'Connor himself makes an unexpected early appearance, he is assumed to be homeless and, also, is welcomed into the fold.

How long can the charade be kept up?  How long will Michael O'Connor be willing to be a guest in his own home?  And what happens when Trudy's mother---Michael's ex-wife (Ann Harding)---shows up as well?  These are the questions that play out in this very sweet little film.

According to Robert Osborne, when this film was originally being made, Frank Capra was going to direct it; however, early on, he heard about another script---the beloved It's a Wonderful Life---and he chose to direct that film instead, selling his rights to It Happened on Fifth Avenue to Roy Del Ruth.  In true It's a Wonderful Life style, though, It Happened on Fifth Avenue also features a beautiful line about friendship...  "To be without friends is a serious form of poverty." 

This sweet film is on TCM's Christmas Day schedule---Friday, December 25th at 6:00 p.m. (ET), so if you'd like to see it (and I definitely recommend it), be sure to set your DVR.  It's also TCM's lineup earlier in the month---Sunday, December 20th, at 10:00 a.m. (ET).

Happy viewing!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I'll Be Seeing You (1944)

My husband and I began our holiday viewing last week, and the first film on this year's "must watch" list was 1944's I'll Be Seeing You.  This movie is one of my 25 all-time favorites, and though I've reviewed it here before, that was back in 2011---the first year of They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To's life; therefore, I'm going to re-run that article, as I think the Christmastime setting (including a singing of "O, Come, All Ye Faithful")  makes this a perfect movie to add to your holiday viewing schedule.

A touching wartime romantic drama, I'll Be Seeing You stars Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten, with Tom Tully, the always-delightful Spring Byington, and a teenaged Shirley Temple taking on supporting roles.  Directed by William Dieterle, this charming film just might bring a mist to your eye.

The story is about Mary Marshall (Ginger), who is on furlough from a women's prison. (You'll find out during the movie why she was sent to prison.) While on a train traveling to visit her aunt, uncle, and cousin for Christmas, she meets Zachary Morgan (Joseph Cotten), a handsome soldier who has recently left an Army hospital, where he was being treated for the effects of what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Mary and Zach both disembark the train at the same stop, and upon Zach's request, Mary gives him her uncle's telephone number.  They begin spending time together and soon fall in love. However, since Zach's emotional state is still quite tenuous, Mary doesn't tell him that she's been in prison and will soon be going back.  And with Zach working through his own personal demons, can there possibly be a future for these two hurting souls?

I'll Be Seeing You is a sweet and tender movie, and although it doesn't bring huge sobs, it definitely gets me misty-eyed a couple of times.  I think all hopeless romantics will love it.  With its Christmastime setting, it's a lovely film to watch this time of year.  Out on DVD, it should be quite easy to track down; plus, it's on TCM's schedule twice this month---Friday, December 18th at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, December 25th, at 12:45 p.m. (ET). 

Happy viewing!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Big Screen Happenings

Nearly eighteen months!  That's how long it's been since I've written anything classic film-related here at They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To. Although I considered abandoning this film blog and converting it to a "life" blog (and did so for three days), in the end, I decided to keep this site devoted to nothing but those great oldie goldie films of yesteryear.

There haven't been a lot of classic film happenings in my life in 2015.  I did manage to catch Double Indemnity on the big screen back in June; it was a wonderful experience, and I'm hopeful that 2016 will bring more such opportunities into my life.

The week after Thanksgiving, for the fourth year in a row, I'll be watching White Christmas on the big screen of Boise's beautiful (and historic) Egyptian Theatre.  Sharing this fun film together is a Christmas tradition for my daughter and me; to be honest, it wouldn't seem like Christmas without Bing, Danny, Rosemary, and Vera-Ellen. She and I used to watch White Christmas from our DVD copy, but ever since 2012, it's been showing at the Egyptian as part of Boise Classic Movies' Christmas film series.

I've recently discovered that Fathom Events is putting on a big screen showing of Roman Holiday November 29th through December 1st.  Given that that adorable film is the one which began my love affair with the classics, I'm pretty sure I'll be in the audience one of those days.  Check HERE to see if it is playing in a theatre in your city.

What about y'all?  What classic films have you been able to catch on the big screen lately?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Great O'Malley (1937)

Seems like Pat O'Brien spent his career playing cops or priests, and in The Great O'Malley nothing is anything different for him.  From 1937, this touching, 71-minute, William Dieterle drama features Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, and child star Sybil Jason in supporting roles.

James O'Malley (O'Brien) is a New York City police officer with a penchant for handing out tickets.  For Officer O'Malley there are absolutely no gray areas---black is always black.  With his overzealous, no-room-for-discussion ways, he hands out tickets left and right.  Continually citing people for old-fashioned ordinances that no one even remembers anymore, such as too many bells on a wagon or a storefront awning being the wrong length, Officer O'Malley has become a pain in the neck to the people on his beat.  His superior warns him that justice needs to be tempered with mercy, but O'Malley just doesn't get it.

One day, he pulls John Phillips (Humphrey Bogart) over for having a loud muffler on his car.  Although Mr. Phillips asks O'Malley to quickly write the ticket because he is on his way to the first job he's had in years, the officer takes his time about things.  By the time Phillips arrives at his job, he's late, and the job has been given to someone else.  With a wife and lame daughter at home, Phillips is desperate and tries to pawn his gun; however, when the pawnshop owner won't pay the amount of money Phillips wants, Phillips clobbers the man on the head and then robs the store, a crime for which he ends up being sentenced 2-10 years.

Officer O'Malley's superior believes that O'Malley's focusing on minor infractions drove John Phillips to crime...had O'Malley not stopped Phillips for something as petty as a noisy muffler, he wouldn't have missed out on the job and wouldn't have been driven to the breaking point.  The police chief believes that O'Malley needs to get a heart and stop harassing people, and in an effort to either make or break the officer, the police captain demotes O'Malley to the position of school-crossing guard.  And it just happens to be the school which John Phillips' daughter, Barbara (Sybil Jason), attends.

Barbara, who walks with a limp, is a kind and loving child, and she soon has stolen the heart of the gruff crossing guard.  She tells him her father is working in Canada, but when Officer O'Malley escorts Barbara home one day, he sees a photo of her father and realizes that he is none other than John Phillips.  At this point, Officer O'Malley is a changed man, and he seeks to undo the damage he caused the little girl's family.  How everything works out is the balance of the film.

Though not spectacular, this really is a gem of a film.  It's tender and touching and even gets me mildly misty-eyed.  It affords the opportunity to catch Humphrey Bogart before he became the huge star that he did (this film came just after The Petrified Forest); plus, the little girl, Sybil Jason, is adorable.  Also, the message of tempering justice with mercy is a good one. I actually came close to giving this 4 stars, but in the end, I went with 3, simply because in films this short, I don't feel the characters or the story are developed enough.  So, this really is a "could have been 4 stars if it was a bit longer" kind of movie.

TCM will be airing The Great O'Malley on Tuesday, July 15th, at 1:30 p.m. (ET).  Plus, the film is out on DVD as part of the Humphrey Bogart Essential Collection.  I do hope you get a chance to see this, as I think it's worth it.

Happy viewing!!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Because of the Brave!!

In honor of Memorial Day, I wanted to re-run a 2-year old post, about The Fighting Sullivans. This 1944 tearjerker tells the story of a real-life Iowa family, who lost all 5 sons when their submarine went down in the Pacific.  Watching this film is a Memorial Day tradition for our family. It's a great reminder that the freedoms we enjoy today were bought at an enormous cost---the lives of men and women.

If you've never seen The Fighting Sullivans, I highly recommend it.  HERE is the link to my 2012 review of the film.

Happy viewing...and Happy Memorial Day!