A Movie a Day Keeps the August Heat Away

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.

https://www.patreon.com/cladriteradio

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.

https://www.patreon.com/cladriteradio

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.

The Set-Up Delivers a Knock-Out Punch

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.

The Set-Up poster

Happy 109th Birthday, Katharine Hepburn!

Katharine Hepburn was born, well, Katharine Houghton Hepburn (what, you expected her to resort to the artifice of a screen name?) 109 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.

We recommend that you pay Ms. Hepburn the honor of watching at least one of her movies today. TCM‘s airing a good number of her best from 6 a.m. till 8 p.m. ET. The Philadelphia Story, airing at noon, is our favorite, but you can hardly go wrong with Stage Door (8 a.m.), Holiday (10 a.m.), or Woman of the Year (2 p.m.) or any of the pictures they’re airing.

Happy birthday, Ms. Hepburn, wherever you may be!

Katharine Hepburn

Extra! Extra! Read All About 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.

Read All About It: A newsboy holds a folded paper aloft as he hawks his wares.

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.

Fred MacMurray, Man of Many Talents

Fred MacMurray is Turner Classic Movies‘ Star of the Month, and that suits us fine. A total of 32 movies will be shown on Wednesday nights in January, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

We can’t think of another actor as underestimated as MacMurray. He is widely remembered today for the latter phase of his career—his Disney movies and his television work—but in the 1930s, ’40s and even into the ’50s, he exhibited a wider range than any My Three Sons fan might ever imagine.

After all, can you imagine Steve Douglas, widower and pipe-smoking, cardigan-wearing father of three boys, teaming up with Barbara Stanwyck in a blond wig to kill her husband for an insurance payout?

Fred MacMurray

MacMurray pulled off just such a role in the classic film noir Double Indemnity (he starred opposite Ms. Stanwyck four times altogether, the lucky stiff, beginning with the oft-praised-in-this-space 1940 romantic dramady-slash-Christmas movie, Remember the Night).

Fred MacMurray also was adept at romantic and screwball comedies, appearing opposite Carole Lombard (with whom he also worked four times) in such pictures as Hands Across the Table and True Confession.

When you consider that MacMurray also played a mutinous Navy lieutenant in The Caine Mutiny (1954) and a lecherous advertising executive in The Apartment (released, ironically enough, the same year My Three Sons debuted), you start to get the picture.

To top it all off, MacMurray began his career as a saxophonist and singer with such outfits as the Gus Arnheim Orchestra and George Olsen and His Music. MacMurray also appeared on Broadway in Three’s A Crowd (1930–31). He even appeared in a good number of westerns!

So you see, respect must be paid to Mr. MacMurray, who passed in 1991 at age 83. He really could do it all and is well deserving of his Star of the Month designation.