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||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Thrillers! Friday Nights in October on TCM

By CarrieSpecht

October 14th, 2009

Turner Classic Movies has launched a new series of one-hour specials focusing on film genres starting off with The Suspenseful World of Thrillers - Just in time for Halloween!

Thrillers! Friday Nights in October on TCM

The new series from Dream Works Television kicked off early this month with the original documentary, “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful world of Thrillers”. Following that premier there has been a festival featuring classic thrillers that continues until the last Friday in October. Fortunately, there are still three more Fridays left in the month, including the one coming up that rebroadcast of the documentary which features interviews with screenwriter Diablo Cody, actor Kenneth Branagh, director Mel Brooks, screen favorite Martin Landau, and many more.

This new series is an example of TCM’s commitment to offering great insights into the world of classic films. The first installment, “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful World of Thrillers”, examines the genre from all sides, including the different types of thrillers and the tools filmmakers use to give their audiences a shot of adrenaline. Topics explored include the origin of thrillers and the development of stylistic conventions, such as the use of a wrongly accused everyman as a protagonist, damsels in distress, femme fatales, and villains. The documentary goes on to assess the impact of the changing times on the genre, such as the push for intrigue during WWII, the increase of violence in the ‘60s, the emergence of the paranoid thriller in the ‘70s, and how the genre maintains popularity by latching onto the defining mood of each passing era.

The special plays out as a basic yet informative tutorial on what is the definition of a thriller, spanning the subtypes as well as the distinctions that separate it from action films. A Night at the Movies is extremely well crafted, with many of the genre’s definitive voices (past and present) speaking about the qualities necessary to any thriller, while clips are utilized to exemplify these points. Overall, this is a fun and entertaining way to finally make clear one of the most misunderstood genres of the film medium.

With the variety to be had within the , TCM has set aside each Friday in October’s primetime for a different style of thriller. This Friday the 16th the focus is on Crime Thrillers, with the underexposed, but exceptional noir The Narrow Margin starting the night off at 8pm EST (5pm PST). Immediately following this first film is a rebroadcast of “A Night at the Movies: The Suspenseful World of Thrillers”. Then two more thrillers, “Lured” featuring Lucille Ball and George Sanders and “The Lodger” with Merle Oberon, will round out the night’s presentation.