Wednesday, August 1, 2018
TCM's Summer Under The Stars--Lionel Atwill
It is August, which means Summer Under The Stars month on Turner Classic Movies. Each day this month TCM will devote the entire 24 hour period to movies featuring a particular performer.
This year's Summer Under The Stars contains several of the usual suspects--Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable, etc. But there are a few welcome choices that go beyond the norm. This Friday, August 3, is set aside for one of my favorites, the great British character actor Lionel Atwill. Here is the full schedule (note that the times are listed in American Eastern Standard):
6:00 AM THE FIREBIRD
7:30 AM RENDEZVOUS
9:15 AM SOLITAIRE MAN
10:30 AM THE SECRET OF DR. KILDARE
NOON THE MURDER MAN
1:15 PM THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
2:45 PM THE SECRET OF MADAME BLANCHE
4:15 PM THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN
5:45 PM CAPTAIN BLOOD
8:00 PM THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM
9:30 PM THE SECRET OF THE BLUE ROOM
11:00 PM DOCTOR X
12:30 AM ABSOLUTE QUIET
2:00 AM THE VAMPIRE BAT
3:15 AM MARK OF THE VAMPIRE
4:30 AM THE GORILLA
The first three films are very rare, and ones I've never seen (of course, I'll have to be at work). The movies at midday are ones in which Atwill doesn't get all that much to do. Things perk up in the afternoon with THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN. This film features what I believe is Atwill's best film performance as Captain Costelar, a man driven to rage and despair by the seductive and manipulative Concha (Marlene Dietrich). I watched this film that not long ago on the new Criterion Josef von Sternberg/Marlene Dietrich box set, and it looks outstanding in Blu-ray. The pirate adventure CAPTAIN BLOOD contains one of Atwill's most villainous roles as he faces off against Errol Flynn.
The best Atwill showcase is reserved for prime time. THE MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM is my favorite all-time Atwill role. THE SECRET OF THE BLUE ROOM is a rare, if minor, Universal thriller, while DOCTOR X is a major highlight in Atwill's career--his very first horror film, and his very first screen pairing with Fay Wray.
If you can stay up late, both THE VAMPIRE BAT and MARK OF THE VAMPIRE are well worth seeing. And if this Friday doesn't give you enough Atwill, Saturday night has Svengoolie showing SON OF FRANKENSTEIN on MeTV.
Ironically, all of the Lionel Atwill films that will be shown on Friday by TCM were made in the 1930s--none of the actor's screen performances from the Forties are represented. The lineup should still satisfy any major Atwill fan, and for those not familiar with the man, it will serve as a fine introduction to the actor's work on the silver screen.