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Home Classic Movies Columbia Classics: ‘Communist’ Librarian Bette Davis & Murderous Richard Attenborough + TCM Thrillers

Columbia Classics: ‘Communist’ Librarian Bette Davis & Murderous Richard Attenborough + TCM Thrillers

4 minutes read

Columbia Classics: The Pumpkin Eater Peter Finch Anne Bancroft
Columbia Classics: Peter Finch and Anne Bancroft in Jack Clayton’s British-made 1964 drama The Pumpkin Eater. Elsewhere, Bette Davis outdoes Joan Crawford in the slapping department in the 1956 drama Storm Center, in which Davis plays a librarian concerned about civil liberties – including her own.

Columbia Classics DVDs

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

Following the lead of Time Warner, Sony Pictures has started the distribution of on-demand DVDs of rare (or somewhat rare) classics and not-so-classics found in its library.

Columbia Classics has yet to offer Bette Davis in the largely forgotten crime drama The Menace, Jean Arthur in The Most Precious Thing in Life, or Melvyn Douglas in The Lone Wolf Returns, but among their dozens of releases are a number of goodies.

For instance:

  • 10 Rillington Place (1970), Richard Fleischer’s psychological study of a serial killer played by Richard Attenborough.
  • Address Unknown (1944), directed by (mostly) art director William Cameron Menzies (Oscar winner for Gone with the Wind), and starring Paul Lukas (Best Actor Oscar winner for Warners’ Watch on the Rhine).
  • Jack Clayton’s British drama The Pumpkin Eater (1964), starring Peter Finch, Maggie Smith, James Mason, and Best Actress Oscar nominee Anne Bancroft.
  • No Greater Glory (1934), an anti-war allegory directed by two-time Oscar winner Frank Borzage, and adapted by Jo Swerling from Ferenc Molnar’s The Boys of Paul Street.

Also, Terence Stamp delivering a remarkable performance as a mentally challenged man in The Mind of Mr. Soames (1970); Bette Davis and Kim Hunter in the anti-Red Scare paranoia Storm Center (1956); Rosalind Russell in the melo The Guilt of Janet Ames (1947); the B-mystery The Spiritualist (1944), with Turhan Bey and Lynn Bari; and dozens more.

Michael Redgrave Dead of Night puppet vs ventriloquist
Michael Redgrave in the “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy” segment in Dead of Night.

Turner Classic Movies’ horror/mystery/suspense Halloween marathon kicks off this evening with a showing of the 1945 British classic Dead of Night, which, 65 years later, remains one of the best efforts in the psychological-horror genre.

Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti (“Christmas Party” and “The Ventriloquist’s Dummy”), Charles Crichton (“Golfing Story”), Basil Dearden (“Hearse Driver” and “Linking Narrative”), and Robert Hamer (“The Haunted Mirror”), Dead of Night stars a number of top players of British film and stage, among them Mervyn Johns, Roland Culver, Basil Radford, Sally Ann Howes, Googie Withers, and, best of all, Michael Redgrave as an unbalanced ventriloquist.

Also this evening, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, a sumptuous David O. Selznick production starring a flawless Joan Fontaine as “I” de Winter and a surprisingly restrained Laurence Olivier as Rebecca’s widower. (Vivien Leigh wanted to play “I,” but it’s a good thing that she didn’t. Other top contenders included Margaret Sullavan and Loretta Young.)

Judith Anderson nearly steals the show as the governess with lesbian tendencies, while Florence Bates is hilarious as an obnoxious dowager.

Rebecca may be less Hitchcock than Selznick, but in my invariably humble opinion this Best Picture Oscar winner is one of the director’s very best.

Robert Mulligan’s The Other has elements from Jack Clayton’s The Innocents and from several The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery episodes, but it’s not quite as good.

Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Dragonwyck is a sort of Jane Eyre-like melodrama (I haven’t seen it, yet), starring Gene Tierney, then at the height of her popularity, and Vincent Price.

Thank Heaven for Little Girls? Well, think again. In Nicolas Gessner’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane Jodie Foster plays a very, very young murderess. Martin Sheen and veteran Alexis Smith co-star.

Schedule and synopses from the TCM website:

5:00pm [Horror/Science-Fiction] Dead of Night (1945)
Guests at a country estate share stories of the supernatural.
Cast: Mervyn Johns, Roland Culver, Hartley Power, Elisabeth Welch Dir: Basil Dearden BW-103 min.

7:00pm [Suspense/Mystery] Rebecca (1940)
A young bride is terrorized by the memories of her husband’s glamorous first wife.
Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson Dir: Alfred Hitchcock BW-130 min.

9:15pm [Horror/Science-Fiction] Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane, The (1976)
A thirteen-year-old girl turns to murder after her father dies.
Cast: Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith, Mort Shuman Dir: Nicolas Gessner C-92 min.

11:00pm [Horror/Science-Fiction] Other, The (1972)
A boy’s evil twin leads him on the path to murder.
Cast: Uta Hagen, Diana Muldaur, Chris Udvarnoky, Martin Udvarnoky Dir: Robert Mulligan C-100 min.

1:00am [Suspense/Mystery] Dragonwyck (1946)
A farm girl signs on as governess in a gloomy mansion.
Cast: Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, Vincent Price, Glenn Langan Dir: Joseph L. Mankiewicz BW-103 min.

Turner Classic Movies website.

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1 comment

Pete Patrick -

I haven’t felt that much pleasure watching a movie scene in a such a long time.

oh! how that little a*hole in training deserved some serious slapping and shaking… LOL


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