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FLICK PICKS: All-day '50s flashback
March 29, 2009  | By Diane Werts

Have fun (and fears) in the '50s all day this Tuesday as Turner Classic Movies salutes a pivotal decade. TCM's time trip collects everything from a surreal lesbian western smackdown (Johnny Guitar) to a gritty drama of media manipulation (Sweet Smell of Success) to an all-night wallow in Hollywood's original mix of monsters and aliens.

forbiden planet wide.jpg

That prime-time event starts with 1958's great-title treat I Married a Monster From Outer Space (8 p.m. ET, TCM) and moves on through Invasion of the Body Snatchers (9:30 p.m. ET, TCM), Don Siegel's 1956 classic of Kevin McCarthy vs. the pod people. Gene Barry stars in 1957's intriguing The 27th Day (11 p.m. ET), where humans get apocalyptic alien powers, and Japan gives us 1958's creepy nuclear cautionary tale The H-Man (12:30 a.m. ET). Sci-fi goes A-list in MGM's 1956 color gem Forbidden Planet (2 a.m. ET), the Shakespeare-based space tale with Walter Pidgeon [photo above], Leslie Nielsen (pre-comedy, of course), and the still-cool Anne Francis. After 1958's The Lost Missile (3:45 a.m. ET), our '50s sci fi trip concludes with the documentary study Hidden Values: The Movies of the '50s (Wednesday at 5 a.m. ET, all on TCM).

But tune in earlier Tuesday to explore further fascinating '50s mindsets on TCM:

Born Yesterday (7:45 a.m. ET) - In George Cukor's sparkling comedy-drama, D.C. reporter/babysitter William Holden shows naive kept-gal Judy Holliday that there's more to life than her bellowing shady-business boyfriend Broderick Crawford.

All the King's Men (9:30 a.m. ET) - Crawford had earlier won an Oscar corrupting southern politics as an only slightly disguised Huey Long.

johnny guitar espanol.jpgJohnny Guitar (11 a.m. ET) - Joan Crawford vs. Mercedes McCambridge fire up an old-west town in garish Technicolor, hissing like cobras and using boy-toys Sterling Hayden and Scott Brady along the way. Nicholas Ray's stylized desert staging turns his female gun-toters into operatic divas. Did Francois Truffaut really call this "the Beauty and the Beastof westerns"?

Marty (1:45 p.m. ET) - Ernest Borgnine (still acting today at 90!) made his early mark winning an Oscar in this 1955 film adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky's TV character study of a lonely butcher. Rod Steiger had starred on the tube, alongside Sopranos mom-from-hell Nancy Marchand. Could TV be this quietly insightful again, or does it now demand too much cacophony?

Sweet Smell of Success (3:30 p.m. ET) - Heartthrob movie stars Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis proved they could play heartless scum in this 1957 noir of all-powerful newspaper columnists. (Newspapers? Power? So quaint.) Their career making and breaking renders with realistic grit amid James Wong Howe's black-and-white cityscapes and Elmer Bernstein's jazzy score.

It's a lot to watch (or to record for later viewing). But well worth it.

Preview some video clips here.


1 Comment


Adam Bomb 1701 said:

You mentioned "Marty", one of my all-time favorites. A sad note that wasn't well publicized - Betsy Blair, who played "Clara" in that classic, passed away this past March 13 at the age of 85.

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