Friday, January 31, 2014


Steve Forrest is a hunky but serious former POW who is now a seminary student on his way to Paris with his friend (Robert Christopher) to finish his studies for the priesthood with a crusty but well-meaning priest (Victor Francen). On the flight over, Forrest gets friendly with a famous fashion designer (Simone Renant) who offers him assistance over the three days of liberty he has in Paris before his studies begin. Soon, he seeks her out for advice when a glamorous blond (Anne Baxter) barges into his taxi and gets him involved in her problems: she left the scene of a murder—she was the victim's mistress—and both the cops and the murdered man's brother are on her trail. This is a rather bland affair; the suspense is so slack that at times it feels like a Paris travelogue—it was shot on location so that's a plus. Forrest is suitably stoic, even a little mysterious; I wanted to know more about his character. For a time, we wonder if he will fall for Baxter and leave God behind, but because Baxter is so clearly a femme fatale, there's not really much danger of that happening. Baxter gives the movie some life with her near-campy performance, which would have seemed more natural if the movie had been closer to a film noir, which it really isn't. I liked Renant but she is given little to do. The film is colorful and the widescreen compositions are nice.  [TCM]

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Shady businessman Harry Farrel (Warren William) is in Chicago when the Great Fire breaks out. He tells his partners he's on to a sure thing out in Powder River, Wyoming: the settlers out there have never made official claims on their land so he's heading out there to swindle the land out from under them. He takes along Belle (Constance Bennett) and her gal pals because their casino has been destroyed in the fire. (When Belle is asked what she's going to do out west, she replies, "Anybody I can," which leads me to believe that gambling isn't the only business going on in her establishment.) On the train to Powder River, a holdup is foiled by the presence of fabled gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok (Bruce Cabot), who is on his way to visit Janey, an orphan girl of his acquaintance, and her guardian Nolan. Belle takes a liking to Hickok, but Farrel quickly realizes that the man will be a thorn in his side, as Nolan is one of the settlers who won't give up his land without a fight. Sure enough, sides are soon drawn, with Farrel, the crooked sheriff (Ward Bond), and a cowardly reporter (Walter Catlett) on the landsnatching side, against Hickok, Nolan, Janey, and the local judge, with Belle in the middle. Farrel frames Nolan for a murder and despite the judge's suspicions, the jury finds Nolan guilty. That night, Farrel's men agitate the townsfolk who drag Nolan out of his cell and lynch him, leaving little Janey an orphan again. When Farrel gets his landgrab going in earnest, Hickok's side seems outnumbered, but when Belle joins the frey on Hickok's side, good may stand a chance.

Plotwise, this is a routine B-western (though as it's a Warner Bros. B-film, the production values are good), but it's the interesting cast that makes this worth watching. Cabot makes a handsome and gentlemanly hero; William all but twirls his mustache playing the villain; Bennett (pictured with Cabot above) provides the sex appeal, if little else (though she does get a decent song, "The Lady Got a Shady Deal"); Bond is solid as always; Catlett is fine in what amounts to a comic relief role; and Howard Da Silva stands out in a small role as a lawyer. The plot moves along nicely, though the last twenty minutes crams in almost too much action—the lynching, a shootout, the landgrabbing, and finally a man-made flood, though the flood scene is very well handled. Good for an old-fashioned Saturday-afternoon Western. [TCM]

Monday, January 27, 2014


This archetypal WWII resistance movement movie begins with the voice Hitler ranting in German as his evil claw of a hand scratches away at a map of Europe. In a Norwegian mining village, Hitler's troops parachute in, slaughter the small militia group, and connect with Corell, the local quisling—"quisling" being a term for a collaborationist, from the name of the Norwegian politician who did in fact sell out his country for a chance at ruling with the Nazis. With no defenses, the village surrenders. Corell expects to be made mayor, especially because the current mayor is trying his best to obstruct the Nazi's aims whenever possible, but Col. Lanser tells him his usefulness is over. The invaders need the mine to keep running to send ore back to Germany; young Alex resists and hits a German soldier who later dies—he is tried and sentenced to death, and the resistance of the villagers begins as soon as the firing squad executes Alex. Small acts of sabotage occur, but soon the British drop explosives at night and the Norwegians stash them away and begin causing more damage to the Nazi plans, blowing up bridges and transmission lines. The Nazis take ten hostages, including the mayor, and as they are hung in public, the mine explodes, with more explosions seen and heard throughout the town.

Based on a play and novella by John Steinbeck, this is relatively short on action but it works as inspiring propaganda for the underdogs. The sets (interior and exterior) are stagy but effective. The power of the movie rests mostly with three actors: Cedric Hardwicke as the Nazi colonel, Henry Travers as the mayor, and Peter van Eyck (pictured) as the young Nazi soldier Tonder. Each goes for underplaying rather than overplaying, and though that lessens the melodrama, it does make the story feel more real. Van Eyck is especially interesting: his German lieutenant is recognizably human and almost sympathetic in his isolation and desire for friendship and intimacy which is thwarted at every turn by the villagers. The ending is grim but predictable, especially if you've seen other resistance dramas of the era (such as COMMANDOS STRIKE AT DAWN and UNDERGROUND). This has been hard to find, but recently Fox released it as part of their burn-on-demand series. It's not a must-see but WWII movie buffs will want it. [DVD]

Wednesday, January 22, 2014



Archaeologist Eric Portman has run out of funding but needs to return to North Africa to substantiate his findings concerning the legend of a treasure buried in the tomb of Roman ruler Marcus Manilius, specifically the cursed golden Mask of Moloch. The British Museum won't give him any more money, but a free-lance adventurer and best-selling author (Van Heflin) has offered to provide funding if he can come along and write a book about their findings. Portman thinks Heflin is just a fame-seeking jerk, but he finally agrees to let him come along. Also along for the trip: Portman's daughter (Wanda Hendrix) and her somewhat milquetoastish fiancé. And it wouldn't be a Hollywood archeology trip without a couple of bad guys following along, hoping to snag the treasure for their own nefarious purposes. First, Heflin is waylaid in a bar by a dancing girl while the baddies ransack his room, looking for a map. Later, Heflin helps two penniless street kids who then help direct him across the Sahara. Everyone gets caught in a sandstorm, then Heflin is kidnapped, leading to a somewhat anti-climactic battle, followed by the predictable re-sorting of Hendrix's romantic feelings. This is a competent but unexciting adventure tale, completely predictable with little to recommend it unless you are a Van Heflin fan. The only real minus for me was that the movie stops dead in its tracks several times to provide: 1) some travelogue footage of Tunis, and 2) lots of scenes of belly-dancing women and men. Oh yeah, and there's a character named Thankyou, which is neither a plus nor a minus. [TCM]

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


The cowboy buddies known as the Three Mesquiteers (Stony, Tucson and Lullaby) are on a riverboat when they witness a brief gunfight between gamblers which results in one of them, a man named Talbot, getting knocked overboard. What the Mesquiteers don't see is that on shore, Talbot, seeking help for a wound on his wrist, runs into Hazelton, a former money engraver, and eventually the two of them work out a huge swindle: Hazelton forges a land grant document giving a huge tract of land (which has already been settled by homesteaders) to the Spanish Don Luis de Serrano. Talbot poses as Don Luis and takes his claim to the government which has no choice but to give him the land. At first, he claims he will rule fairly, but very soon he becomes a virtual dictator, levying high taxes, confiscating property, and driving good people, including the Mesquiteers, off the land. Soon, a caped trio of vigilantes known as the Capaqueros comes to the people's rescue, at least until Don Luis hires a militia to hunt them down. Of course, the Capaqueros are the Mesquiteers, and when Stony recognizes that Don Luis is actually Talbot, he comes up with a plan to expose the evildoer.

There is a lot of plot crammed into this 56-minute B-western. I didn't even mention Susan, the damsel in distress who never quite becomes a romantic interest, or the sexy wife of Don Luis, or the presence of President Garfield as a character. I've enjoyed these Three Mesquiteers movies, though in this one, it feels like the director said to Ray Corrigan (as Tucson) and Max Terhune (as Lullaby), relax and let John Wayne (as Stony) take over. Wayne is practically the whole show here—Terhune does an uninspired ventriloquist bit but otherwise seems almost comatose, and Corrigan is slightly more energetic but still a bit wooden. George Douglas is disappointing as the villain, with Doreen McKay only slightly better as his wife. Still, it moves quickly, never bogging down, and it's fun to see the plot work itself out. [DVD]

Friday, January 17, 2014


Handsome Ray Danton, pictured at right, is hanging out in a beatnik club, the kind where a woman (a cameo by Vampira) holding a white rat chants beat poetry while a shirtless guy sits next to her, arms folded across his chest, glaring into space. A girl tries to hit on Ray, but he responds by telling her to "be cool… There’s no tomorrow—not while the sky drools radiation gumdrops," then goes back to reading Schopenhauer. Danton's father shows up with his new wife but Danton gives them both the cold shoulder, sneeringly calling the new wife, who looks younger than Danton, "Mommy." Turns out Danton is a serial rapist, known in the press as the Aspirin Kid for his M.O.: he goes to the home of a housewife whom he knows will be alone, tells her that he borrowed money from her husband and wants pay it back, then fakes a migraine and asks her for an aspirin. When she returns with the aspirin, he attacks, beats, and rapes her.

The main cop on the case is Steve Cochran, but he's handicapped by his belief that all women are filth (he seem happily married, but his first wife was a tramp), so he basically believes that all the victims were somehow "asking for it." When his own wife becomes a victim of Danton, he remains conflicted, unable to give her the support she needs; when she becomes pregnant soon after and he is clearly unable to deal with it, she considers an abortion. To throw the cops off the track, Danton talks his weaselly buddy (Jim Mitchum) into pulling a copy-cat crime with Mamie Van Doren as the target; the plan goes awry when her husband shows up, but Cochran and his partner (Jackie Coogan) follow Van Doren, thinking that she is seeing the Aspirin Kid on the sly, which takes them, after a couple of false leads, to a swinging beatnik party in a beach house where, as the kids chant "Don’t bug me, DaddyO," the ludicrous and overlong climax occurs with Cochran chasing a harpoon-carrying Danton right into the ocean.

Despite the unsavory rape aspect of the plot, this is mostly a deliriously fun B-thriller. Many sources call this a film noir, but it has virtually none of the visual elements of noir; only the fact that the lead character has a dark obsession (which is interestingly mirrored by the villain) gives the movie any tie at all to the noir genre. The "beat generation" milieu is mostly tangential to the narrative but those references (clustered at the beginning and end) are what make this fun. Danton's character is obviously not a real "beat" devotee; it's like near the end of shooting, they decided to bookend the film with satiric beatnik scenes to juice up what is otherwise a traditional crime melodrama. Danton is very good and good-looking as the creepy rapist with the charming surface, and Cochran (pictured at left with Danton) is equally good and good-looking as the charming cop with the creepy anti-female views. Mitchum (Robert's son) is OK in his role, though he is completely without charisma; Van Doren ultimately doesn't have much to do, but she comes off as a stronger character than Cochran's wife (Fay Spain, who has more screen time but doesn't register as much); former child star Jackie Coogan (later Uncle Fester on The Addams Family) is fine as Cochran's buddy. Norman Grabowski, looking like an overage frat jock (and in real life a famous hot rod designer) has fun during the final party scene. Louis Armstrong essentially has a cameo as himself, keeping as much cool as he can performing the ridiculous title tune: "You beat generation/You think you live as you choose…/I think you're headed for the blues." It’s a low-budget movie but in its widescreen incarnation it doesn’t look cheap. [TCM]

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Lizabeth Scott and Arthur Kennedy are driving to a party that Scott doesn't want to attend—as they argue, they pull the car over to the side of the road. Another car drives by and the driver, mistaking them for someone else, tosses a valise full of money in the window and speeds away. The driver who was supposed to intercept the cash chases them but Scott gives him the slip. When they get home, Kennedy wants to give the loot ($60,000) to the cops, but Scott talks him into stashing the money at a bus depot locker and thinking it over for a couple of days. The next day, after she goes on a shopping spree spending the money she doesn't have yet, Dan Duryea shows up claiming to be a cop, but he's actually the thug after his money. When she plays tough, Duryea slaps her around, then she bitchslaps him ("What do I call you besides 'stupid'?"). Scott winds up making a deal to keep half the money, but her goody-two-shoes husband won't play along so Scott kills him, gets Duryea to help her dump the body, and tries to file a missing persons report on Kennedy. But two people begin to make things tough for Scott and Duryea: Kennedy’s sister (Kristine Miller) who inconveniently lives right across the hall, and Don DeFoe, a stranger who shows up claiming to be a war buddy of Kennedy's. Not to mention that the claim ticket for the valise becomes difficult to hang on to.

This is a little-known but solid B-noir with a nicely twisty (albeit somewhat predictable) plot and great performances from the main trio. Kennedy's not around long but he makes an impression that lets his character remain vivid throughout. The sultry, deep-voiced Scott could play this kind of role in her sleep; at times, she does seem a little low-energy, but overall she pulls this off well. Best is Duryea (above with Scott) who creates a colorful character on whom it is hard to get a handle. He's tough on the surface but doesn't have the courage of his ambitions, and when he becomes a drunken mess later in the movie, Duryea manages to give him interesting shadings. This being a public domain film, the prints available on DVD are not very good, but you should see this anyway, even though the wimpy title works against it. [DVD]

Monday, January 13, 2014



The eccentric Father Brown is always trying to save souls, and play detective when he can—as the movie opens, we see him caught by police one night returning some "swag" that a parishioner stole. He even gets the would-be burglar a job as chauffeur to the rich widow Lady Warren. Father Brown's church holds a holy relic, the cross of St. Augustine; the Bishop wants the cross transported to a church congress in Rome but is worried because professional thief Flambeau has threatened to steal it, so Brown suggests taking it himself. Along the way, Brown becomes suspicious of a fellow traveler, a car salesman, and confides in a bearded priest; but, surprise, the salesman is actually a Scotland Yard inspector assigned to keep an eye on Brown, and the bearded priest is Flambeau, who manages to get the best of Brown during a sightseeing visit to some catacombs. Brown has nine days to find Flambeau and recover the cross before he's called before the archbishop.

I haven't read any of the Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton, and some fans of the character don't like the liberties taken by this film version, but I found this to be a charming slightly off-kilter comic thriller, with Alec Guinness perfect in the title role. He's a little bumbling but also rather clever, and quite likable. A young Peter Finch (pictured above to the left of Guinness) is just as good as Flambeau, to the point where you're almost not sure who you're rooting for. Each scene in which Guinness and Finch interact is a gem: on the train to Rome, in the catacombs, and at the end in Flambeau's home. Cecil Parker (as the bishop) and Joan Greenwood (as Lady Warren) are fine if underused, and Ernest Thesiger is delightful in what amounts to a cameo as a doddering old archivist. It's a shame Guinness didn’t make more Father Brown films. [TCM]

Friday, January 10, 2014


We're told right off the bat that "it is written in the burning sands of the Sahara: when there is wrong, there will always be an El Khobar the Avenger, riding with the Riffs, to right it." The Riffs are the good guys here, and El Khobar is a legendary Moroccan Robin Hood figure who has shown up to help them in their struggle against the plundering ways of the bad guy, Sheik Youssef (Raymond Massey). El Khobar leads raids on Youssef's men to get back the supplies that they stole from the Riffs. In the middle is the French Foreign Legion, led by General Birabeau and his second-in-command, the handsome Captain Fontaine (Steve Cochran). They mean well but can't see beneath Youssef's charming exterior. The dashing and mysterious El Khobar is actually Prof. Bonnard (Gordon MacRae), an anthropologist whose persona is that of a meek, absent-minded academic. Azuri, a spy who dances in the sheik's palace in order to get information to the Riffs, has eyes for El Khobar but he has eyes for no one—until he meets the General's daughter Margot (Kathryn Grayson) who spends a lot of time singing to herself. She makes eyes at Fontaine, so her father hires Bonnard as a tutor to keep her out of trouble, but she still winds up in the thick of things, getting kidnapped by El Khobar in the hopes that he can get her to see that Youssef is not to be trusted. He, also enjoying singing, gets a little flirting in as well, and in the end, after a huge skirmish at the palace, all is righted and El Khobar reveals his true identity to Margot in song.

This film version of the 1926 operetta (there were two earlier movies which I have not seen) has gorgeous color and some low-grade but still stimulating spectacle on its side. I don't always like MacRae—I've lumped him in with Howard Keel as being too artificial to be likeable—but he gives a lower-key performance here than he did in OKLAHOMA and CAROUSEL and I grew to like him, especially as the professor who wears Clark Kent glasses (pictured above right with Grayson). In fact, the character comes across as a cross between the Scarlet Pimpernel (the disguise) and Indiana Jones (the academic background, the hat, and a bullwhip he puts to good use during one fight). I don't care for Grayson—operatic singing voice, overdone acting—and the songs seem completely secondary; dare I admit that I fast-forwarded through some of the songs? Luckily, the plot is engaging and the visuals are sumptuous. Massey is fine in his over-the-top villain mode and, of course, Cochran (pictured at left) is a plus even though he doesn't get as much screen time as he should. I didn't like Dick Wesson as a brash reporter who rooms with MacRae; he's supposed to be comic relief but he's not the least bit funny. Also with the handsome Mark Dana as a Legionnaire named Duvalle. This Warner Bros. musical is generally at least as much fun as most of the MGM musicals of the era. [TCM]

Wednesday, January 08, 2014


At Christmastime, we see a rather scraggly Santa Claus belly up to a bar, order a fogcutter, and head off to his shift at Macy's where, when his state of drunkenness becomes plain as he yells at the kiddies and their parents, he is fired. At his apartment building, the man (Monty Woolley) is helped up the stairs by a new neighbor, a composer (Cornel Wilde), who recognizes him as a once-famous actor who has hit the skids and who is now largely in the care of his crippled daughter (Ida Lupino) who is afraid to marry and have children, thinking her lame foot problem would be inherited. As it happens, Wilde's aunt (Sara Allgood) used to act with Woolley and has had a crush on him for years. Between the attentions of Lupino, Wilde and Allgood, Woolley begins to reform, gets a job on a radio soap opera, and even manages to get offered the part of King Lear in a Broadway revival which is being backed by Allgood. But soon, complications arise; Lupino finds out that her foot condition was caused inadvertently by a drunken Woolley and she decides to marry Wilde and move with him to California, not wanting to tell Woolley until after his premiere. The night before the opening, however, Woolley discovers Lupino's plans and succumbs to spirits again. Will everything work out for all concerned?

Though this movie doesn't try for social commentary on substance abuse, neither does it sugar-coat the problems of a recovering alcoholic, and it bounces back and forth between comedy and melodrama. Occasionally it veers off into fairly sappy territory, especially in a late scene between Lupino and Wilde, but for the most part it keeps its balance, mostly thanks to a solid performance by Woolley who isn't afraid to make his character quite unlikable sometimes. Allgood is also quite fine, doing an understated turn in an unusual role. The opening scene with Woolley as the drunk Santa was like the opening of the later MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET from the viewpoint of the drunk, and the way that sequence straddles the comedy/drama line is perfect. The title refers to the traditional starting time of Broadway plays. [DVD]

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


In 1840, young Anson (Lars Hanson) returns to the New England coast town of Maple Harbour fresh from the seminary, ready to join Phillips, the local pastor, as an assistant, and also ready to renew his romance with Phillips' daughter Mary (Marceline Day). But because he dresses so informally (and perhaps because he seems so healthy and full of life), some townsfolk think he's not ready for a life at the pulpit. Even Anson seems vaguely aware that he may not be ready to settle down yet. When a ship founders during a storm, an injured woman on board named Bess (Pauline Starke) is denounced as a whore and no one is willing to help her until Anson arrives. He takes her to a shack where he tends to her and finds out about her rough life—she says her stepfather got her pregnant and that it was "a damn good thing the baby died." The townsfolk shun her, so when a ship bound for Rio arrives, Anson manages to get her passage on it, and at the last minute, disgusted by the local attitudes, he joins her. But the ship turns out to be a convict ship helmed by a disgusting captain (Ernest Torrence) who threatens to force Bess to have sex with the prisoners and later has Anson whipped for insubordination. What will happen to our odd couple? This silent melodrama reminded me a bit of The Scarlet Letter, partly because Lars Hanson played the Reverend Dimmesdale is a silent version of that story opposite Lillian Gish. The acting is generally adequate with some of the typical overacting (Hanson) and underacting (Day) of the era, but Torrence makes a fine and nasty villain, worthy of the phrase "slime-jowled skunk" which Starke uses against him. There is some nice camerawork, and a battle on the ship up in the riggings is quite exciting. The struggle that Hanson undergoes between the traditional pious but intolerant church people and the more inclusive feelings he has makes the movie feel fairly modern. [TCM]

Friday, January 03, 2014


In Lynboro, Vermont, high school friends Henry Fonda (at right) and Joan Bennett are walking home together as he reads love poetry out loud. When he trips and falls, she takes advantage of the moment and kisses him. She wants to marry him right away, but he wants to wait until he graduates and makes something of himself. Two years later, he's in college and she's living at home waiting for him to finish. When Bennett gets lost in a snowstorm on her way to a Christmas party, she seeks shelter at a cabin occupied by sophisticated writer Alan Marshal. Over the course of the evening, he charms her so much that they run off to elope. Three years later, Bennett, Marshal and their baby daughter live in Paris where Marshal has become a dissolute troublemaker. He is killed in a drunken duel, and eventually Bennett accepts an offer from her guardian aunt (Dame May Whitty) to come back to Vermont. Fonda has become a biology professor at the local college; he is unattached but as soon as Bennett shows up, a somewhat unstable student (Louise Platt) starts flirting with Fonda, making an awkward triangle that becomes a rectangle when a fellow student (Tim Holt) makes his interest in Platt known. The way out of this tangle threatens to turn tragic when Pratt tries unsuccessfully to kill herself—or so she claims—and Bennett finally forces a showdown in a speeding car, in the middle of the night.

This romantic melodrama is fairly light in tone, so much so that it keeps threatening to turn into comedy, and it begins with a lovely  half-hour or so covering the background of the characters. Fonda and Bennett, both shot in a kind of gauzy focus, are personifications of foolish, romantic youth. The snowy night scene in which Bennett meets Marshal (pictured at left) is equally lovely, in the way it looks and the way it plays out. But once we get around to the present, something is lost in both the cinematography and the characterization. Fonda's character doesn't seem to know what he wants, is mostly a passive agent, and he becomes almost unsympathetic. Though Bennett comes off in a better light, I even began to think that she should just give up and go back to Paris. Platt, Holt and Dorothy Stickney (as Fonda's mother) are good as the characters who we like to dislike. Alan Marshal is so charming as the roguish author that I really missed his presence in the latter part of the film. Perhaps the problem is that the first half is so interesting that much of the second half just feels like narrative coasting. Still, I'd recommend this, especially to fans of the stars. [TCM]

Thursday, January 02, 2014


In a high-class suburban home, a successful advertising executive (Kirk Douglas) wakes up, showers, says goodbye to his wife (Deborah Kerr), and drives to work in heavy traffic, the whole time listening to a constant stream of news and ads on the radio, and switching stations to find ads for Zephyr cigarettes, a campaign he headed which touts them a "clean" cigarettes. While zooming through a tunnel between two large trucks, he suddenly takes a sharp turn toward one, winding up being dragged under the truck. He survives the suicide attempt but after a long hospital stay and recuperation time at home, he refuses to talk to anyone. Eventually, through a convoluted series of flashbacks that occur alongside the story of his slow recovery, we learn his backstory: the child of Greek immigrants, he has mommy issues (dramatized in an ANNIE HALL-type of scene in which Douglas watches a family incident from the past play out before him), daddy issues (his father, Richard Boone, is in the midst of a long, slow decline—physically, mentally and financially), and mistress issues (his lover, Faye Dunaway, an advertising consultant, is younger and still on her way up in the business).

This movie is based on a long novel by its director, Elia Kazan, and it really should have been longer, to cover the characters and situations in more depth, or shorter, and been trimmed of most of the flashbacks—though honestly, at two hours, it feels like three. Stylistically, it's a mess; Kazan was trying out all the 60s Hollywood quirks he could find, but there is no overriding feel or tone to the movie, and the characters are all adrift and mostly unsympathetic. The various narrative threads are disjointed and never cohere into an interesting (let alone coherent) whole. Dunaway and Boone are good, but Douglas is a little grating and over-the-top, and Kerr is able to do very little with her blank character. Much of the dialogue was looped in later, giving most of the movie a distracting distant quality. The first 20 minutes, including the opening sequence climaxing in the startling accident, are promising, but things spring out of control after that. Supposedly, the material was autobiographical, and the movie does feel like a stepping stone to what Bob Fosse did much more successfully in his lightly disguised life story, ALL THAT JAZZ. [TCM]