Jan 31, 2006

More old movies

Put me in front of most any black-and-white movie and I'm happy--regardless of the quality of the film. I particularly love screwball comedies, but I like Charlie Chan movies, tearjerkers, war movies, whatever.

One of my current rituals when I wake up early on a weekend morning is to turn on Turner Classic Movies and watch whatever's being offered. I've got more than a dozen such movies stored on my DVR but for whatever reason, I prefer the serendipity of just watching what's on.

Even a bad old movie has something to offer whether it's the clothes, the sets or the slang of the day. Another plus: Seeing future stars in minor roles.

Recently I saw The Big Heat, a run-of-the-mill good cop battling a corrupt police department in a nameless big city movie but pretty well made and enjoyable nonetheless. Gloria Grahame is terrific as the floozie who redeems herself by helping Glenn Ford take out the big crime boss. It also features an early performance by Lee Marvin, who plays a vicious psychopath who gets his kicks hurting women.

But I really got a kick out of Glenn Ford paying 35 cents for a beer. And Lee Marvin's penthouse apartment (bad guys with ill-gotten gains always live in the penthouse) with its mid-century modern decor. Plus, I learned that women were waxing their legs in 1953: Gloria Grahame claims to know nothing about the bad guys' business because whenever the bad guys start talking about business she goes out and gets her legs waxed. Who knew?

All in all a pretty agreeable way to spend an hour and 20 minutes.

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