Friday, February 28, 2003


An adaptation of Lillian Hellman's play THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, with the lesbianism taken out, but the commentary on the destructive power of lies remaining. Miriam Hopkins and Merle Oberon are friends who graduate from college and start a private school for girls. They have to deal with Hopkins' horrible aunt (Catherine Doucet) who is determined to "help" them, even though she is just the opposite of helpful, but soon with the aid of a rich town woman (Alma Kruger) and a local doctor (Joel McCrea), they get the school up and running. Kruger enrolls her granddaughter, Bonita Granville, in the school; she's a hateful little snot who has been bounced out of school before and she proves to be trouble from the word go. Oberon and McCrea fall in love, but Granville, willfully misinterpreting a late night visit from McCrea, spreads the rumor that McCrea and Hopkins are having an affair--it turns out that Hopkins does indeed have a crush on the hunky doctor. Granville uses blackmail to get her weak-willed friend, Marcia Mae Jones, to go along with her lies, which also involve claims of physical abuse. Soon all the townspeople pull their children out of the school; the women bring a slander suit against Kruger, and things get uglier before they get better. All the actors are fine, but it's Granville and Jones who shine. Both push the over-the-top envelope but never break it, resulting in energetic, full-blooded performances that help make the melodramatic plot twists seem believable. Margaret Hamilton plays Kruger's maid, who gets to vent a bit against Granville for the audience, and Walter Brennan has a small role in the beginning as a cab driver. Doucet is good at being irritating and is almost as hateful as Granville. The ending of this movie is a bit happier than the ending of the play, although there is still the sense that at least one life has been, if not destroyed, at least derailed.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003


Though I'm a fan of Humphrey Bogart, I also realize he has a fairly limited range. The closer he is to quiet and stoic, the better off he comes. When he has to stray too far (into an accent in DARK VICTORY or into murky psychological depths in THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS), it always feels like he's trying too hard--except in THE CAINE MUTINY. In this movie, as in CARROLLS, he plays a tormented wife killer and the role doesn't really suit him. Bogart and his wife (Rose Hobart) are going through a rocky patch in their marriage; he hasn't been very attentive and she has figured out that Bogart has a crush on her younger sister (Alexis Smith). Bogart has not acted on his feelings, but when confronted, makes the decision to kill Hobart on an out-of-the-way mountain road, then report her missing. He uses a temporary (and partially faked) physical handicap as an alibi. Smith is dating young professor Charles Drake, but does seem vaguely receptive to Bogart's attentions. Soon, clues begin to crop up indicating that Hobart may actually be alive; did she survive? Is Bogart losing his marbles? Or is someone gaslighting him? Occasionally, a noirish atmosphere develops, but mostly this is a Gothic-type mystery set in decidedly non-Gothic settings (suburbia, academia, and the great outdoors). Sydney Greenstreet is a psychiatrist who has always admired the apparent strength of Bogart and Hobart's relationship. Grant Mitchell and Edwin Stanley (both from THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, Mitchell as the husband and Stanley as the butler) have supporting roles. Not a bad movie--in fact, Alexis Smith is quite good if a bit underused--but not one that plays to Bogart's strengths.

Sunday, February 23, 2003


A fabulous slice of Cecil B. DeMille ham, too long and fairly ludicrous for most of its running time, but with a great last hour which must be seen to be believed. The plot is traditional pre-Code romantic melodrama; the marriage of Kay Johnson and Reginald Denny is in trouble, as Denny is having a fling with young floozy Lillian Roth. Johnson, accused by Denny of being "below zero," sulks for a while until her maid bursts out in song (yes, it's sort of a musical) with advice about fighting back. Johnson replies in spoken verse and decides to spice things up by attending a costume ball in disguise as Madam Satan and seducing her husband away from Roth. The movie breaks down nicely into a traditional three act structure: Act 1 is Denny being caught in his philandering, Act 2 is a bedroom farce (which drags at times) with Denny, Johnson, Roth, and Denny's drinking buddy Roland Young all hiding things from each other in Roth's spacious hotel room. This first half of the film is too long and tedious, though Young is very good, as usual, doing a variation on the persona he perfected as Uncle Willy in THE PHILADELPHIA STORY.

Act 3, the last half, is set at a decadent costume ball thrown by Young in a zeppelin moored high above New York City. DeMille clearly threw himself into this part, with tons of wild costumes, wonderfully bizarre sets, a grand, over-the-top musical number about the power of electricity (no fooling!), and a spectacular thunderstorm that threatens to turn the last 15 minutes of the film into DeMille's TITANIC. The witty repartee of the first half, though sometimes not particularly well delivered, was all that kept me going until the zeppelin party. Johnson and Denny are bland; I was thinking Chester Morris and Irene Dunne might have pulled it off. I'm not crazy about Roth--she overacts as badly here as she did in ANIMAL CRACKERS. I would still wholeheartedly recommend this for fans of 30's films, for the wild party alone.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

RIVER'S END (1940)

This was apparently the third film version of a novel by James Oliver Curwood, a writer from the early 20th century who wrote lots of nature adventure stories. Dennis Morgan plays John Keith, a man who has just been found guilty of murder and who pulls off a daring escape right from the courtroom. He's innocent and is being framed by the real villains, but can't prove it, so after he pays a quick visit to his buddy George Tobias, he lights out into the Canadian wilderness. A Mountie named Connison (also played by Morgan) is sent in pursuit. The two finally meet up, but Connison is in bad physical shape and Keith tries to nurse him back to health in an isolated cabin. Just before the Mountie dies, he tells Keith he believes in his innocence and, as they look alike except for a scruffy beard, Keith poses as Connison just as a couple more Mounties (one being John Ridgely) catch up. Morgan goes back to civilization as Connison, with the story that Keith died, and tries to catch the real killers. Elizabeth Inglis (the real-life mother of Sigourney Weaver) plays Connison's sister, who hasn't seen him in years. There's a funny bit when Morgan and Tobias first meet her and are trying to figure out if she's his wife or girlfriend. Victor Jory is the real bad guy, who begins courting Inglis, much to Morgan's dismay. It's a little weird at the end when Inglis, who all along has been thinking of Morgan as her brother, seems to have few qualms about accepting him as a boyfriend! James Stephenson (THE LETTER) is the chief Mountie. Overall, a snappy and efficient B-adventure with some nice scenery. Re-release title, which TCM uses: DOUBLE IDENTITY.

Monday, February 17, 2003


I'm sorry that more of the "poverty row" movies from studios like Monogram and PRC aren't readily available on cable. Many if not most of them are public domain and I think Turner Classic Movies could have some fun scheduling a few of these 60- to 70-minute movies in the middle of the night. Some are interesting for the presence of rising and, more often, falling stars. This one has Wallace Ford, rarely a leading man but always a pleasurable addition to a supporting cast in the 30's and 40's (EMPLOYEE'S ENTRANCE, SKYSCRAPER SOULS, ABSOLUTE QUIET, THE MUMMY'S HAND, and FREAKS, probably the closest he came to a "romantic" lead for a major studio). He sustained a career well into the early 60's--I've seen him fairly recently in two 50's films, THE RAINMAKER and THE MATCHMAKER. He has the lead in this, a comedy-thriller clearly made on the cheap but with some good performances. Relatives gather at the spooky old house of Aunt Cassie (Sarah Padden) who wants to determine the fitness of her family members as heirs. Murders begin happening right away. A complicating factor is that most of her family members have tried (but failed) to get Cassie judged insane. She's not, but she *is* eccentric, with an odd sense of humor (that comes with a strange stuttering chortle). Ford is a newspaperman who infiltrates the mansion and cracks the case. Marion Marsh is his love interest, oddly downplayed throughout. The real fun comes in a few self-referential moments. There are references to THE CAT AND THE CANARY and to the conventions of detective movies. At one point, Ford notes out loud that he is the "handsome juvenile," so no harm can come to him--and in this cast, despite being over 40, he *is* the juvenile. The last shot includes a mention of the Hayes office (enforcers of the Production Code). Enjoyable, as long as your expectations aren't too high.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Two with Kay Francis

The fact that Kay Francis was a bankable star in the 30's is beyond me. She can be pleasant enough, but I don't think she can handle leading parts very well. Even when I can get past her speech impediment, I often find her bland and lacking in energy. I like her TROUBLE IN PARADISE but aside from the minor I FOUND STELLA PARISH and her supporting role in THE FEMININE TOUCH, I'm usually more irritated by her than charmed. Two such irritants follow.

MAN WANTED (1932): A light pre-Code comedy of love and manners. Francis is a workaholic magazine editor (although the spicy opening has her taking time to neck with her husband in her office). David Manners is a salesman trying to sell her a rowing machine. Because Francis has just fired her non-workaholic secretary, Manners winds up in that job. He has a crush on her which he hides until a long night of business being conducted at a resort when they share a sleepy kiss. She laughs it off, but discovers that her husband is carrying on with Claire Dodd (good in an underwritten role) and suddenly Manners seems attractive. He has his own romantic entanglement with Una Merkel which is basically going nowhere. Manners' roommate, Andy Devine, would love to take Merkel off his hands. You see where this is going. Manners is a bit of a lightweight here, but he and Francis are at least likeable. Edward Van Sloan has a small part as Manners' boss. Amiable and well paced, but I kept thinking how much better it would have been with Myrna Loy or Joan Crawford or Norma Shearer.

FIRST LADY (1937): Very funny material totally undone by lame performances from most of the cast, which leads me to lay the blame on the director (Stanley Logan, an supporting actor who directed a handful of movies). Halliwell's Movie Guide gets the plot wrong--despite the title, it's *not* about a president's wife. Francis is the daughter of a former president and wife of Secretary of State Preston Foster. Most of the movie is about her attempts to one-up her nasty society rival, Verree Teasdale. Teasdale and her husband, Supreme Court judge Walter Connolly, are good, as is Louise Fazenda, as a stuffy matron from the Women's League for Peace, Purity, and Patriotism, but no one else stands out (including Victor Jory, Anita Louise, and Harry Davenport). Francis constantly blows good lines with bad timing (the movie was based on a George S. Kauffman play) and Foster is a total zero. The material deserved better.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

THE CAT'S PAW (1934)

I think this is the first Harold Lloyd movie I've ever seen. I suspect I saw SAFETY LAST, his most famous film, back in my childhood but I don't remember much about it. So I came to this film, one of his few sound features, with a relatively clean slate. It's an interesting story that comes off like GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE if it had been written by Preston Stuges and directed by Frank Capra. Lloyd plays Ezekiel Cobb, the son of missionaries who has grown up in China (his father is Samuel S. Hinds, who later worked for Capra as Mr. Bailey in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE) and is sent back to the States to find a wife--or as the naive Lloyd keeps putting it to shocked people, to find a mother for his children. In his old hometown, he falls in with a group of corrupt politicians who decide to run him for mayor, knowing he'll lose so the crooked incumbent will win again. But after an incident where Lloyd comes to the aid of a child who the mayor stuck in the face, Lloyd becomes popular and actually wins the race. He becomes a true reformer, angering the town's racketeers but getting the respect of the former party boss (George Barbier). The bad guys frame Lloyd and get the town turned against him, but in his last day in office, he takes the law into his own hands, hauls all the crooks in (for a small town, there are a surprisingly large number of criminals rounded up), and threatens to execute them, one by one, unless they confess to their wrongdoing. The film takes a rather dark turn in its last 15 minutes, as we see him apparently go through with some executions, parading the headless bodies around town, with the heads propped up on their chests. It turns out things aren't quite what they seem, but it's still a oddly grotesque and fascistic moment for what is mostly a gentle comedy. Una Merkel is Petunia, a smart cookie who eventually takes a liking to Lloyd. Among the crooks are familiar faces such as Nat Pendleton, Grant Mitchell, and Warren Hymer. Lloyd is quite good in this character-driven part; I wonder if he was an inspiration for Eddie Bracken in his Sturges films. Not a laugh-out-loud kind of movie, but amusing and worth seeing.

Sunday, February 09, 2003


This series of musicals seems to have been MGM's answer to Warner Brothers' GOLD DIGGERS series. The first one, BROADWAY MELODY, released in 1929, was the second film to win the Best Picture Oscar. I've never seen it, though from descriptions, it sounds like the typical "putting on a musical" movie with production numbers and backstage drama (and comedy, undoubtedly). Certainly that's what the later movies in the series are like (and the GOLD DIGGERS movies as well). There's nothing wrong with the MGM musicals, but they lack the spark of the early Warner Brothers musicals, and they certainly weren't predictors of the MGM Golden Age musicals of the 40's and 50's. The production numbers are glossy and generally fun to watch, but often feel too forced in a way that even the most mannered of Busby Berkeley's numbers did not.

In BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936 (released in '35), Robert Taylor plays a Broadway producer trying to get backing for his new show. June Knight is the socialite willing to put up money in exchange for a leading role. Eleanor Powell is an old friend of Taylor's from back home who arrives in NYC to see him and, more or less on a whim, decides to try out for the show. She impersonates a French singer in an attempt to build some buzz and falls in with Buddy Ebsen and his real-life sister Vilma, dancers with a country bumpkin routine who are also trying out for Taylor's show. Jack Benny is a columnist (think of Walter Winchell), Sid Silvers is his sidekick, and Una Merkel is Taylor's secretary. I missed the presence of Allen Jenkins and Joan Blondell, who, if this had been done at Warners', would have been perfect as the sidekick and the secretary (Silvers is so-so, though Merkel is fine as always). Some of the songs here, including "I've Got a Feeling You're Fooling," "You Are My Lucky Star," and "Broadway Rhythm," were used to better effect much later in SINGIN' IN THE RAIN.

BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 (1937) is inferior, as the law of sequels would lead one to expect, although it does contain one famous sequence, the young Judy Garland singing "You Made Me Love You" to a picture of Clark Gable. Taylor and Powell are back as producer and star, as is Buddy Ebsen, here a little less hayseed and a little more "street." Sophie Tucker has a rare movie appearance as Garland's mother, herself a retired vaudeville star, and she gets to sing a thinly disguised autobiographical song. Binnie Barnes is the rich bitch and Raymond Walburn her dotty husband (coming off as a second-rate Guy Kibbee). Robert Benchley is funny in a sidekick role, and a novelty performer named Robert Wildhack does a short and weird bit as a sneezer (he did a snoring routine in the '36 MELODY). The best songs here are Tucker's "Some of These Days" and a nice dance number called "Follow in My Footsteps" with Powell, Ebsen, and George Murphy. The movies are fine, but Taylor and Powell don't quite have the oomph to make them special.

Saturday, February 08, 2003


I was digging through some tapes that had been buried away in the basement for years and found this which I had taped off Bravo in the early 90's when it was still commercial-free. Because it was taped on our old VCR, it was a little murky and muffled at times, but I was happy to see it, especially since it was letterboxed and subtitled, and apparently the only video commercially available now is a full-screen, dubbed one. Maybe I'm turning into a Bertolucci fan--I hated LAST TANGO IN PARIS, and remember more or less liking 1900, though I haven't seen it since its theaterical release. But I very much liked THE SPIDER'S STRATEGEM [reviewed 7/02], and I think THE CONFORMIST is a great film. Set in Fascist Italy (like the flashbacks in STRATEGEM), it's about a man (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who is desperate to be "normal," to conform, and most of his life choices and behaviors are determined by this wish. He marries a woman he knows to be "mediocre" because he thinks he should. He becomes a spy for the Fascists to fit in. He agrees to go off to Paris on a mission to assassinate a former professor and mentor to show his loyalty. And, toward the end, after Mussolini's fall, he pulls off two startling acts of personal betrayal that are truly shocking. He is still so desperate to conform that he seems to have lost his humanity.

The cinematography by Vittorio Storaro is beautiful throughout and appears to have influenced films like THE GODFATHER and MILLER'S CROSSING. Early in the film is a lovely scene in an blindingly white art deco radio studio where we see a conversation taking place with an Italian Andrews Sisters-type group singing in the background. When a fascist speaker starts to talk after the song, the deco background suddenly goes creepily dark. Another great scene is set at a restaurant, involving an erotic dance between two women that turns unexpectedly into a huge line dance that weaves in and out of the glass-walled restaurant. The narrative, as in most of Bertolucci's films, is rather tangled, though I didn't have as much problem following the flashback pattern as some viewers have had. We are led to believe that some of Trintignant's problems are based on an attempted homosexual rape/seduction (we're not clear on exactly how far it got) in his youth, and many critics find the character to be a repressed homosexual, though unless I missed something, I didn't find a lot of evidence for that until the very last scene. Despite (or perhaps partly because of) the usual Bertolucci ambiguity, this is really a great movie that deserves to have a subtitled DVD release (although Paramount doesn't have a good track record for that sort of thing with their older films). Catch it if and where you can.

Friday, February 07, 2003

CAMILLE (1937)

Two of my least favorite actors of the 30's (Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor) work together and manage to pull off very good performances in this warhorse of a tearjerker. Garbo is the courtesan Marguerite Gautier, apparently aka Camille, for her love of camellias though I don't remember anyone calling her that in the movie. She lives in a whirl of lovers and their gifts, though she always needs more money. Her older friend, Laura Hope Crews, tries to fix Garbo up with a rich count (Henry Daniell) but instead she loses her heart to the young, handsome, but relatively poor Robert Taylor. Their first meeting at an opera house goes awry and she winds up being kept by the Count, but a second meeting solidifies their feelings and she leaves Daniell and financial security for Taylor and insecurity. During an idyllic summer together, Taylor's grandfather (Lionel Barrymore) begs her to leave Taylor because, even if they marry, she will sully his reputation beyond repair. Garbo gets across to Barrymore the strength and purity of their love, but she still agrees to dump him and go back to the Count. Misunderstandings and tragedy (including one of the most famous death scenes of all) follow. Garbo's overly mannered acting style, which usually gets on my nerves (as in GRAND HOTEL), works for this "operatic" melodrama, and Taylor pulls off the innocent youth role fairly well. Crews is fine, as is Jessie Ralph as Garbo's loyal maid. Daniell is appropriately slimy, yet almost sympathetic. Rex O'Malley has a nice part as a close (and maybe gay?) male friend. George Cukor directed, with lovely trimmings (sets & costumes) and photography. It may have lost some of its luster over the years, but it's still worth seeing.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003


Based on the title and the first few minutes, this looks like it will be a kind of "Boys from Brazil" story about Neo-Nazis out to reclaim the world, but it's actually a rather run-of-the-mill WWII propaganda melodrama of betrayal and loyalty. George Coulouris plays von Beck, a Nazi general who leads a group of "inner circle" Nazis on the eve of Germany's surrender (the movie was released after D-Day but before the actual surrender). Glad to leave the weakened Hitler behind, the group goes underground, intending to get new identities and foment dissent among the liberated peoples of the former Third Reich. In Belgium, Coulouris pretends to be his brother, moves in with his sister-in-law and her daughter (who were seen as collaborators by the villagers), and tries to derail the Allies to return the land to nomality. Paul Guilfoyle (father to the Paul Guilfoyle who currently plays Brass on CSI) is Coulouris' first conquest in his propaganda battle. Lloyd Bridges is a former concentration camp prisoner and Nancy Gates is his girlfriend. The most interesting character is Helena, played by Osa Massen, who was raped by a German soldier and subsequently bore a child (Gigi Perreau in a wordless performance). The two have become semi-outcasts, seen as tainted by Nazi blood. There is some nice use of light and shadow in some scenes but aside from its interesting set-up, nothing very exciting goes on. After the opening, we never see any of the other "inner circle" Nazis and the whole film becomes a story of the villagers struggling to trust each other again. One of the worst lines of dialogue in any WWII movie occurs here when Bridges has to say, at an inspiring moment, "When the Lord made people, he had a great idea!" Massen is the best actor in the picture, even though she is saddled with having to look wide-eyed and sinister for the first half of the film until her secret shame (which we guess early on) finally comes out.

Monday, February 03, 2003


A Tod Browning misfire, without the saving grace of DRACULA'S spooky atmosphere or the novelty of FREAKS. Still, its unusual plot does hold some interest. Lionel Barrymore is Paul Lavond, a French businessman who has been wrongly imprisoned for 15 years on embezzlement charges, framed by three of his associates. He escapes from Devil's Island with the old and weak Marcel (Henry B. Walthall) and they wind up in Marcel's swampy shack where his wife (Rafaela Ottiano) has been carrying on Marcel's experiments in miniaturizing living things (mostly dogs). Marcel dies but not before they successfully shink a half-wit servant (Grace Ford). Barrymore and Ottiano go to Paris; he adopts the disguise of a kindly old woman who makes dolls, and plans to use the miniaturizing technique to gets his revenge against his associates. He does get his revenge and the last victim confesses, clearing Barrymore's name. Along the way, Barrymore (in old lady drag) strikes up a friendship with his daughter (Maureen O'Sullivan) who has never really known him. Barrymore commits crimes in the name of righteousness and isn't caught, but he does sacrifice a full relationship with his daughter, and it's possible that he eventually plans to kill himself. The tone of the film is odd--part horror, part fantasy, part thriller, but at heart, it's a sentimental reconciliation tale (with a romantic Eiffel Tower climax). There are elements of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN; besides the tone and the miniature people, Ottiano has a Lanchesterish shock of white hair. The effects are good for their day, especially in a scene where a shrunken girl who has been posing as a doll creeps out of someone's hand to commit mayhem. Barrymore in drag seems to be having a lot of fun, and indeed he is the main reason to watch. Loosely based on A. Merritt's "Burn Witch Burn" (no connection to the fine 50's film of that title) and a voodoo story by Browning. An interesting curio of a movie.

Sunday, February 02, 2003


An exotic pre-Code romance; its primary assets are the physical charms of the two attractive leads. Joel McCrea, looking impossibly young (even younger than he did in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, filmed the same year), is on a yacht tour of the South Seas with his privileged friends (including the rather fey Skeets Gallagher). They make friendly with an island tribe and a young native girl (Dolores del Rio) saves him from a shark. Despite the language barrier, they fall in love and McCrea decides to stay on and catch a ride home on the yacht's return trip. Their pairing angers her villagers for a couple of reasons: she's promised to someone else in marriage, and also marked as a potential sacrifice to the nearby volcano god. McCrea swoops in and carries her off on her wedding night and they live together on a nearby island until forces (including that pesky volcano) conspire to tear them apart. Del Rio has an infamous nude swimming scene--there's not a lot of explicit detail, but you can certainly tell that she's naked (or perhaps it was her stand-in). McCrea manages to spend most of the movie half-naked as well (he looks like a somewhat scrawny Tarzan strutting around in his skimpy loincloth), and as the melodramatic story twists take hold, the looks and builds of the stars are about all that held my interest, in addition to the nice backgrounds (it was filmed partly on location in Hawaii). There's a titilating kissing scene where, as they're lolling about on top of each other, she points to her lips and asks for kisses--of course, he obliges, and she points some more and he kisses some more... A little later, the same thing happens in reverse a (he, beneath her, points and asks, etc...). It looks like a couple of scenes may have been shot on the KING KONG sets. Lon Chaney Jr. (credited as Creighton Chaney) has a small and essentially wordless role as one of the sailors. OK, but not as much fun as its reputation might suggest.

Saturday, February 01, 2003


A generic title for a run-of-the-mill programmer featuring Judy Garland just before OZ. She plays Pinkie, a small town girl living with her widowed mom (Mary Astor) and her bratty little brother (Scotty Beckett). Freddie Bartholomew is Judy's buddy Buzz, a Canadian boy--which explains away his British accent--who is staying with his American uncle (Charley Grapewin, Uncle Henry from OZ). At heart, it's a Disneyish plot in which Judy and Freddie conspire to find an appropriate husband for Astor. She's on the verge of marrying Gene Lockhart, a small town big shot, but Judy knows she's only doing it for security. The kids kidnap Astor in the family trailer and, while staying at a campground, they meet up with Walter Pidgeon, a manly man very much like Astor's late husband. An odd plot twist involves Alan Hale as a rich man who lives on the edge of the campground and who the kids try to have ready if things with Pidgeon fall through. But after a skunk attack, a drenching storm, and a misunderstanding or two, things do work out fine. Judy sings a few songs, most notably "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart." Perennial sissy Barnett Parker (a second-string Franklin Pangborn) plays Hale's butler. Judy and Freddie have some chemistry but apparently not enough for MGM to pair them up again. Pidgeon is good, much more relaxed and softer-edged than he was in his 40's films. A pleasant time-passer, especially for Garland and Astor fans.