Five Novak vehicles released at the height of her stardom will be presented this evening: Joshua Logan’s Oscar-nominated Picnic (1955), starring William Holden; Delbert Mann’s drama Middle of the Night (1958), with Fredric March; Richard Quine’s The Notorious Landlady (1962), with Fred Astaire and Jack Lemmon; and two directed by George Sidney: the fictionalized biopic Jeanne Eagels (1957), with Jeff Chandler, and the musical Pal Joey (1957), with Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth.
Based on William Inge’s play, Picnic is worth watching again (and again). I don’t think it’s a great movie – Joshua Logan’s direction makes some of the action/acting too stylized – but the underlying psychology, the social commentary, James Wong Howe’s camera work, and Rosalind Russell are all fascinating.
Some consider Middle of the Night one of the best Delbert Mann efforts, while Pal Joey is one of Sinatra’s most popular musicals.
Now, although I like some of George Sidney’s movies (Annie Get Your Gun, Show Boat, Scaramouche), I think that just about everyone involved in Pal Joey strives much too hard to make it “effortless.” The one exception is Rita Hayworth, who single-handedly brings depth (in addition to class, wit, and sensuality) to Pal Joey‘s bland artificiality.
Schedule and synopses from the TCM website:
5:00pm Picnic (1955)
A handsome drifter ignites passions at a small-town Labor Day picnic.
Cast: William Holden, Kim Novak, Betty Field, Susan Strasberg Dir: Joshua Logan C-113 min.
7:00pm Jeanne Eagels (1957)
The famed actress fights drug addiction to build a career and find love.
Cast: Kim Novak, Jeff Chandler, Agnes Moorehead, Charles Drake Dir: George Sidney BW-109 min.
9:00pm Pal Joey (1957)
An opportunistic singer woos a wealthy widow to boost his career.
Cast: Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, Barbara Nichols Dir: George Sidney C-109 min.
11:00pm Middle of the Night (1959)
A widowed businessman courts a younger woman who works for him.
Cast: Kim Novak, Glenda Farrell, Jan Norris, Lee Grant Dir: Delbert Mann BW-117 min.
1:15am The Notorious Landlady (1962)
A junior diplomat in London falls in love with his landlady even though she’s a murder suspect.
Cast: Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Fred Astaire, Lionel Jeffries Dir: Richard Quine BW-123 min.