Katharine Hepburn was born, well, Katharine Houghton Hepburn (what, you expected her to resort to the artifice of a screen name?) 113 years ago today in Hartford, Connecticut. It’s almost startling to be reminded on such occasions that Ms. Hepburn passed on in 2003, as it’s difficult to imagine any malady or even the passing of time itself prevailing over her strong will. We’re fully prepared to believe that she left us then, at age 96, only because she was ready to go and gave the okay.
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.)
Big news! This month only, we’re sharing our TCM Tip Sheet for the month of August with the whole wide world! It’s live now on our Patreon page.
This is a perq that’s usually only available to our Patreon supporters at the $5-per-month level and higher, but this month only, we’re making it available to all, so that some of you might consider joining us as a Patreon supporter for the first time or, for those of you who already support us but at something under $5 a month, that you might consider upping your support a bit. As you may know, our monthly costs have doubled (due to an increase in licensing costs for the music we play) and while we’re getting close to the amount we need to cover those costs, we’re not there yet.
In August, TCM is running its Summer Under the Stars festival, with a different star featured daily for 24 hours, and as it does every month, our Tip Sheet will help you sort through all those offerings by recommending at least one movie per day that is worth watching and/or recording.
We had a Patreon supporter tell us recently that she loves our monthly TCM Tip Sheet, even though she doesn’t even own a television and can’t watch the movies. We considered that high praise, and we hope you’ll enjoy it, too.
Sunday’s installment of Noir Alley on TCM (10am ET) is a don’t-miss (set those DVRs now). The Set-Up (1949) stars the great Robert Ryan as Bill ‘Stoker’ Thompson, an over-the-hill boxer who can’t bring himself to pull the plug on his dreams of pugilistic glory. His wife (Audrey Totter) begs him to stop fighting, but for Stoker, it’s always the next bout that will start his climb to the top.
The problem is, Stoker loses so often that his manager has taken money from a gangster on the assurance him that Stoker will take a dive in his next fight—but he hasn’t told Stoker.
The Set-Up holds the distinction of being perhaps the only film noir to be based on a poem, a narrative work written in 1928 by Joseph Moncure March. The poem and film share a title and a premise, but March’s boxer was a skilled African-American fighter nicknamed Pansy—“He’d carve you up like a leg of mutton,” wrote March—who had just been released from prison.
The picture takes place in real time, running a tidy, tense 73 minutes. Director Robert Wise gives the picture a gritty quality that suits the subject matter (and the genre) perfectly.
If you’ve never seen what many consider to be the best boxing picture ever (and certainly the best released before 1950), here’s your chance. Don’t blow it.
There’s a woman who serves as just the slightest irritant every day during our morning commute by trying to foist upon the new edition of one of those 10- or 12-page free daily newspapers—AM New York or the like—as we make our way through the Fulton Street subway station in lower Manhattan.
We don’t kid ourselves that our face is particularly memorable—dozens of women over the years have easily wiped it from their memories—but wouldn’t you think she’d eventually begin to recognize our hats? After all, among the many people who pass her every day, how many are wearing fedoras? Very few, we would think.
We consistently decline the proffered paper, but every morning, she throws her arm out in front of us, folded fishwrap in hand, like a human turnstile that we must make our way past.
But today, she won us over, if only temporarily. we still didn’t take a paper, but we smiled as we ran her one-woman gauntlet because she’d changed her newsie’s rap. We don’t know if perhaps she’d watched an old movie on TCM last night or what, but this morning, her barker’s pitch went like this:
“Renovate Penn Station! Renovate Penn Station! Read all about it!”
Read all about it! It’s the first time in our life we’ve actually heard someone call out that oh-so-familiar phrase as they hawked newspapers! The only thing missing was an “Extra! Extra!” or two, but that’s nitpicking.
It made our morning, we don’t mind telling you, and we won’t be the least bit surprised if the warm glow we’re experiencing doesn’t last well into the afternoon.