I’m happy to be back on Turner Classic Movies this Monday, hosting an evening of rare films with Ben Mankiewicz beginning at 8pm EST/5pm PST. The lineup consists of titles I’ve just added to the 3rd edition of my Classic Movie Guide, which comes out Tuesday and bears the official title TCM presents Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide. (More about that later.) Ben and I introduce the first four films on the calendar; three more follow, into the wee hours of the morning.
I wouldn’t necessarily rate these films as bona fide classics, but they are all interesting and worth seeing, for a variety of reasons. Several are making their TCM debuts.
Why Be Good? (1928) lay dormant, unseen for more than eighty years, until a tip from film historian Joe Yranski led Warner Bros. to a 35mm copy in Italy, while Ron Hutchinson and the Vitaphone Project provided the original soundtrack discs for a full restoration by Warner Bros. It’s one of Colleen Moore’s most provocative films, as Carey Wilson’s screenplay explores that 1920s prototype the flapper—in this case, a party girl who’s also a “good” girl.
Among the Missing (1934) was recently resurrected by the folks at Sony and while it’s a simple, straightforward programmer from Columbia Pictures, it’s marked by interesting location work in Los Angeles and unusually creative camerawork (by Joseph August). Stage actress Henrietta Crosman brings sincerity to her leading role as an older woman who falls in with a gang of crooks. I wrote about this film in an earlier column which you can read HERE.
Stolen Identity (1953) is an interesting little thriller filmed on the same darkened streets of Vienna where The Third Man was shot just four years earlier. Francis Lederer heads the cast in the only film produced by actor Turhan Bey.
Five and Ten (1931) is a Marion Davies Production costarring young Leslie Howard in a romantic drama adapted from a novel by the queen of soap opera authors, Fannie Hurst (Imitation of Life, Back Street). It also features a fine, understated performance by the great stage actor Richard Bennett—father of Constance and Joan.
The three films that follow are A Very Honorable Guy (1934), a Damon Runyon story starring Joe E. Brown, Three Faces East (1930), a sophisticated spy yarn with Constance Bennett and a suave Erich von Stroheim, and Reducing (1931), an entertaining slapstick comedy starring the popular duo of Marie Dressler and Polly Moran.
These are among the more than 300 titles we’ve added to this edition of the Classic Movie Guide. How can there be “new” old movies worth including? I’ll tackle that subject in my next column.