A Small Gift from Cladrite Radio to You

Because we are all being told to remain “socially distant” and many of us are holing up at home out of concern over this confounded virus, with Broadway theatres going dark (and theatres elsewhere, too, we assume) and sports of every stripe being postponed, if not outright canceled, we’re all looking for edifying, comforting and safe ways to fill our time.

As many of you know, one of the perqs we offer to our Patreon supporters is a monthly Turner Classic Movies Tip Sheet, in which we recommend (at least) one movie every day from TCM’s lineup. Usually this is made available to patrons at the $5 level and up, but starting today and for the foreseeable future, we are going to make this tip sheet public—available to everyone, patron or not—as we can all use ways to distract ourselves these days.

One of these days, when things have returned to something like normal, our TCM Tip Sheet will go back behind the Patreon firewall, but for now, beginning with the March 2020 edition, it’s available for all to view.

(Our apologies to those outside the USA—we know this announcement doesn’t do much for you, but we wish you good health and entertaining distractions.)

The Mystery of the Chameleon Scarf

There’s a certain kind of movie buff who lives to discover minor continuity foul-ups in motion pictures. Is Carole Lombard‘s cigarette ash now a quarter-inch long when it was half an inch just a moment ago? Is William Powell‘s martini glass now full when it was nearly empty in the last shot?

Some film fans rush right to IMDb.com to register these flubs as soon as they spot them, but to be honest, we find this particular hobby of little interest and are happy to leave it to those who enjoy it.

But every now and then, even we spot an incongruity that warrants a raised eyebrow and presents a mystery to be solved. Watch the video below for just such a cinematic puzzle, this one discovered in the 1948 Bette Davis picture, Winter Meeting.

Happy 75th Anniversary, Casablanca!

It’s a tough choice, but if asked to name our favorite motion picture of all time, we’d have to say it’s Casablanca​, which premiered 75 years ago today in New York City. (You can still visit the theatre where it debuted, but you’ll have to watch the video to learn more about that.)

We rewatched the “La Marseillaise” scene recently, in which a passionate rendition of the French national anthem gives the patrons of Rick’s Cafe Americain a small but satisfying victory over Maj. Strasser and his Nazi henchmen, and though we’ve seen this wonderful movie easily a dozen times (probably closer to two dozen), that scene still gave us chills.

Here are 16 things you should know about Casablanca​, the official movie of Cladrite Radio…

Happy 97th Birthday, Setsuko Hara!

We have in the past acknowledged our affinity for classic Japanese cinema, and as with Hollywood’s Golden Age, we certainly have our favorite actors from Japanese pictures of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. One of those was actress Setsuko Hara, who was born 97 years ago today.

We were frequently moved and inspired by her work (and we’ll admit to having a movie-star crush on her, too).

Hara worked in pictures for nearly 30 years, appearing in 101 films, but even so, her career somehow feels as if it was brief, for, like Greta Garbo before her, Hara made a stir by retiring at a young age (42) and retreating to an exceedingly private life in Kamakura, a seacoast town 30 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Setsuko Hara worked with some of the most acclaimed directors in Japanese cinema, including Akira Kurosawa, Keisuke Kinoshita, Mikio Naruse, and the director with whom she was most closely associated, Yasujirō Ozu. Hara and Ozu made six pictures together.

Born Aida Masae in 1920 in Yokohama, Hara made her motion picture debut at the tender age of 15. Two years later, she appeared in Atarashiki Tsuchi (The New Earth), a German-Japanese co-production, in the role that would rocket her to stardom, a young wife who follows her husband to Manchuria and eventually tries (but fails) to kill herself in a volcano. Much of Hara’s early work finds her portraying similar tragic roles.

After World War II, though, Setsuko Hara began to widen her range, sometimes playing modern, “new” Japanese women. These roles tended to be mixed in, though, with more those of traditional, typical Japanese women, as she played daughters, wives and mothers.

Hara, who never married, was called “The Eternal Virgin” by fans in Japan, and much like Garbo, she’s an icon of a classic era in Japanese cinema. But after her retirement, she refused all interview and photograph requests and declined when offered (as she no doubt frequently was) opportunities to resume her career. When she said goodbye, she meant it.

Upon retiring in 1963, Hara stated that she’d never really enjoyed acting, that she’d only done it to provide financial security to her large family, but some have also speculated that she was romantically involved with Ozu, who died shortly before she quit the movies, or even that she was losing her eyesight.

Novelist Shūsaku Endō once wrote of Hara’s work: “We would sigh or let out a great breath from the depths of our hearts, for what we felt was precisely this: Can it be possible that there is such a woman in this world?”

お誕生日おめでとう、ハラ節子。
(Happy birthday, Hara Setsuko, wherever you may be.)

Setsuko Hara

This post appeared in slightly different form on 11/25/2015.