Archives For Turner Classic Movies

A nun walks into a movie theater… It’s not the beginning of a joke. It’s the beginning of an intriguing story and a remarkable bit of programming on Turner Classic Movies.

Every Thursday night March,  Sister Rose Pacatte is hosting a line up of movies once condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency. Twenty seven films in all with intros from Pacatte — a member of the Daughters of St. Paul and the founding director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies (Culver City, CA). Pacatte is a film fan and critic who teaches courses of media literacy from her home base in Culver City and as guest lecturer on the road.

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Barbara Stanwyck (r) and Theresa Harris in BABY FACE, a “pre code” film condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency in 1933

 

Turner Classic Movies is calling the series CONDEMNED and shining light on some of the forgotten history of the Catholic Legion of Decency. The Legion started around the time the Hays Office opened and continued to issue its own ratings through the 1970s. The strongest rating it gave was a “C” — for condemned. Enter TCM and Sister Rose.

Some of the films were campy then and just plain creaky now. Some of the films were breakthrough works of art then that have stood the test of time. BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) is a favorite of mine that’s on the list. You may have missed the first round (March 3) but you still have time to set your DVR for the rest of the festival.

Here’s the line up and info from TCM.

Here’s a great interview with Sister Rose on Flavorwire.

Here’s a blurb and handy list from L.A. Magazine’s Ask Chris.

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Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade and Elisha Cook Jr. as Wilmer “The Gunsel” in John Huston’s THE MALTESE FALCON (Warner Bros. 1941)

There’s an oft-told tale about John Huston’s method of adapting THE MALTESE FALCON for the silver screen. The way the story goes, Huston was on his way to lunch (i.e., a bar) and told his secretary to take the novel line by line and convert it to the standard screenplay format. And that’s just what she did, and that’s pretty much the shooting script they ended up with. I don’t know if the story is true but Huston’s directoral debut was as faithful a book-to-screen adaptation as one could hope for. And why not? Dashiell Hammett’s second novel is practically the Rosetta Stone for film noir.

THE MALTESE FALCON is hands-down my favorite movie. There’s nothing I don’t love about it. So I’m as giddy as a kid at Christmas that Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events are screening THE MALTESE FALCON this Sunday (with encore screenings Wednesday) for the film’s 75 Anniversary. Seventy-five years, amazing! This was the last, best adaptation of the book after a spotty run. The expectations weren’t high and in many ways the studio perceived it as “B team” effort. Bogart was not the first choice to play Sam Spade. This project probably saved his career and launched him to the stratosphere after years of struggle. Sydney Greenstreet’s performance is already perfection but add to the mix that FALCON is also his screen debut and it’s startling how good he is. Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Gladys George, Ward Bond, Elisha Cook Jr. — all pitch perfect in their roles. Huston‘s approach to staging and shooting the film created a new look and filmmaking vocabulary.

Enjoy THE MALTESE FALCON in a theater near you this weekend. And here are some links for some more tidbits on the movie and the lore.

Vanity Fair’s piece on the Falcon — one of the most famous movie props of all time.

The Hollywood Reporter’s on the 75th Anniversary screenings