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Sunday, October 31, 2010

"Flight To Tangier" (1953)

The melodrama begins in a Tangier, Morocco airport. Joan Fontaine and Jack Palance are awaiting a plane, but we don't know what for. Yet.

Then comes a plane crash scene, and it might have been a disappointment to the audience expecting a big "wow" 3-D effect (this movie was indeed intended to be a 3D experience). We don't even see the plane hit the ground, and there's only a couple of shots of smoke from a distance.

Anyway, we then discover that there were no passengers nor crew aboard. In the middle of the night, Joan and Palance search the plane. We don't know just yet what they are looking for. Then, they are caught trespassing and are questioned. The international police investigate.
Corrine: What kind of a woman are you?
Joan: As of now, your kind.
No one seems to know what happened to the pilot (engaged to the mild-mannered Fontaine character). More secrets are revealed as the scheming Robert Douglas and Corinne Calvet add more complexity to the story. We learn everyone has some sort of connection with the plane's missing cargo and its ties to the Iron Curtain.

The original movie posters highlight the film's "Dinoptic 3D" effects. Ms. Calvet wears a few tight tops in this movie; those views alone were perhaps the reason the film was selected for this process. (ha ha)

The film opened in New York the day before Thanksgiving in 1953. The reviewer in the New York Times called it a "stray turkey" and also wrote that the film "seems about as far removed from entertainment and reality as they come".

This movie is available to watch instantly via "Netflix" if you have a subscription.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Joan Fontaine and Mark Stevens in "From This Day Forward" (1946) [Radio Verison]

RKO Pictures' From This Day Forward is a heartwarming romantic drama focusing on the challenges of a young married, childless couple Susan and Bill (Joan Fontaine and Mark Stevens) in post WW2 America. Bill is a returning vet struggling to find work. Most of the story is told in flashback and tells the story of Bill's loving relationship with Susan, played by Joan, who does a great job in this radio version. The film was released in the spring of 1946, the same year as another classic with similar themes, The Best Years of Our Lives.

The radio version--produced by the Lux Radio Theater ---was broadcast on the CBS radio network on October 28, 1946 - almost 64 years ago to the date. Both Joan and Mark Stevens reprise their original film roles. Also, you may notice in this version, any mention of "Lux" (the sponsor) was edited out for some reason. Perhaps this was done in rebroadcasts on another network and with another sponsor. The original commercials were also cut; I'm looking for an unedited version of this.

"From This Day Forward", aired on 10/28/46
Listen to the radio program now: (Flash player required)
(Duration: 50 minutes)

Mark Stevens....William "Bill" Cummings
Joan Fontaine....Susan Cummings
(I wish I knew who the other actors are)

Introduction by the producer of the Lux Radio Theater.

Act 1.

Bill Cummings starts his day by going to the unemployment office. Before he leaves the house, he and his lovely wife reminisce about the first time they kissed. In the office, as he's filling out forms, it starts to rain.

Flashback #1 - Bill thinks back 8 years earlier to 1938, when he and Suzie were first dating. Bill is an artist, and Suzie works in a bookstore and lives at the YWCA. It rains outside, and they make a dash for the home of Suzie's sister Martha. Martha is married with kids and has tons of housework. Hank, Martha's husband, is unemployed. The kids and the mother-in-law - who lives upstairs - add to the chaos around the place! "You should see them in the wintertime" Martha says to Bill in confidence. Later that night, they talk about marriage, and Bill wonders if they are ready for the life that Martha and Hank have. Martha reminds him that they are in love, just like they are. They get married that week.

Present day: Bill is still filling out forms.

Flashback #2 - Bill remembers their first apartment and they enjoy going over all their wonderful wedding gifts.

Present day: We're back in the unemployment office. He meets a fellow Army buddy and they talk about their work experience. Bill wishes he had a trade. But then thinks back to when he had a job in a machinery factory.

Flashback #3 - Bill remembers when he gets fired for the first time. Depressed, he stays out all night and comes home after 11 pm, drunk. He missed dinner with Suzie's family. He explains to Suzie that he got fired. Yet the young couple persevere.

End of Act 1.

Between Acts 1 and 2, there's a tribute to musician Sammy Fain. Instrumental piece: "I'll Be Seeing You"

Act 2.

Flashback #4 - Bill is still out of work. So is Hank. One night, Bill and Suzie agree to babysit the kids, and the young couple gets a taste of what it might be like to have kids. Young and naive Timmy desperately wants to help his uncle and thinks about stealing a soup bone for him to help him pay for food.

Present day: We're back at the employment office. He's stumped on one question asking him if he was ever arrested. He remembers the time he first got arrested.

Flashback #5 - Someone asks Bill to illustrate a book cover which would make him a few hundred dollars. Bill agrees to do it at Suzie's suggestion. Neither of them know that the author is a criminal. A policeman comes knocking on the door, he's arrested goes to jail, and it's a frustrating experience for the both of them.

Present day: Bill is back filling out form, and doesn't highlight his jail time before the war.

Flashback #6 - It's now 1939 or 1940. It's Bill and Suzie's anniversary. Bill, still out of work, decides to sell his father's toolbox to buy Suzie an anniversary present.

Act 3:

Present Day: Bill meets an interviewer. He tells him how he found work in a war plant in 1941 once the war started. He had to work the night shift, which he didn't like.

Flashback #7 - Bill works nights and hates not being able to see Suzie as much. He's overjoyed when he gets two weeks off after he breaks his finger. The couple talk about having a baby again. A few months later, Bill is drafted.

Present Day: Bill explains to the interviewer that they never had kids.

Flashback #8 - Suzie is worried about Bill before he goes to his basic training. Joan Fontaine is very good in this emotional scene.

Present Day: Bill explains to the interviewer that he has experience repairing tanks. And he lands a job! Meanwhile, Hank and Martha are busy moving. Suzie is helping them, and tells them the good news - that she is going to have a baby! Bill stops by, and there's some interesting banter - all talk over each other and no one hears what the other is saying!

The show ends with Bill and Suzie hopeful for the future, from this day forward.

Joan Fontaine takes a final bow.

I have not seen the movie version yet. It would be fun to compare how the full length movie version differs from this 1 hour version.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New Errol & Olivia book is out

The new Errol & Olivia book is now available to purchase from Amazon [Order here]. Also, a few people have already shared some reviews of the book; you can read the reviews here and here.