Looking at a couple of my Sunday TCMFF discoveries.
Leonard Maltin doing the introduction to Law and Order.
Law and Order (1932) is a gritty gangster-style version of the Earps vs. the Clantons, with Doc Holliday, and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, all by different names. Walter Huston plays gambler, gunslinger, and frontier lawman Frame “Saint” Johnson, who comes to a chaotic town with his brother (Russell Hopton), friend (Raymond Hatton) and ailing buddy (Harry Carey). He initially refuses to lay down the law but once he experiences the crimes of the three evil Northrup brothers (Ralph Ince, Harry Woods, Richard Alexander) he accepts the badge, which puts him on a collision course with the outlaws. It all ends in guns blazing and a great shootout, and on the way there we get some fine camera work and visuals, fast-paced scenes, and memorable character moments. One of the best of those featured young Andy Devine as a dumb but friendly criminal who, on the day of his execution, is reassured and even cheered up by hearing he’s the first in that town’s history to be hanged by law. Walter Brennan is a bartender, and one of the screenwriters was John Huston (who also worked on dialogue for the other Walter movie I saw that day, A House Divided). Law and Order was directed by Edward L. Cahn and based on W.R. Burnett’s novel Saint Johnson.
Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934) was one of the TBD titles I was thrilled to get a second shot at (I’d skipped it and A House Divided on Saturday to go see Carl Reiner and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid). In his introduction to the film, distributor (and movie enthusiast with fabulous taste in comedy) Michael Schlesinger was a joy to listen to, and hailed this as “the best movie you’ve never seen.” He asked us all, if we liked it, as he was sure we would, to do everything we could to spread the word and help get it released. High praise to live up to, but Bulldog was indeed a delightful, clever and great-looking mystery-adventure that felt like a love letter to and a spoof of both character and genre, with enough twists and developments to feel like a 12-chapter serial shoehorned into 83 minutes. Poor Algy (Charles Butterworth) just got married but can’t seem to get a moment alone with his bride (Una Merkel, making an art out of eye rolls and shrugs). His pal Drummond (Ronald Colman) keeps calling him out, all through the night to help sort out the meaning of disappearing bodies and witnesses, a spunky lady in danger (Loretta Young), and whatever the shady doings are at the estate of Prince Achmed (Warner Oland). Scotland Yard’s Captain Neilsen (C. Aubrey Smith) is so sick of having his sleep interrupted by Drummond’s frantic calls and outrageous claims that he threatens to lock him up. It was a charming, witty, stylish screwball thriller with several “meta” moments, like Drummond saying he shouldn’t use a car because it’s not consistent with his image, or correctly predicting the next plot twist, which Colman delivers with such a fun “this again” attitude and a knowing look toward the audience when things get really unbelievable.
More from the fest:
- The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival, Intro
- 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival Side Trips
- 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Elliott Gould & The Long Goodbye (1973)
- 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: A House Divided (1931)
- 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival: Private Property (1960)