Tag Archive: Michael Curtiz


Review by C.J. Bunce

If Turner Classic Movies says that Die Hard is a Christmas movie, then the discussion is over finally, right?

It’s that time of year again and Turner Classic Movies is back showing some of the best Christmas movies from across the decades.  This year host Ben Mankiewicz is interviewing author Jeremy Arnold before and after the screening of movies Arnold has selected to feature in his new book, TCM: Christmas in the Movies–30 Classics to Celebrate the Season.  And yes, Arnold’s list includes Die Hard.  So as the British say, “end of.”  Most readers and movie fans will likely agree with at least twenty of the selections discussed in the book, and the rest are there ready for some good discussions with friends over some egg nog this holiday season.

It’s also likely this bucket list of movies has several films that even avid movie watchers may have missed.  I set up my DVR to pick up a few in the book I hadn’t seen yet and was surprised at how superb a selection Holiday Affair is.  It stars Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum, Wendell Corey, Henry Morgan, plus young Gordon Gebert in what must be the best-ever performance by a child actor in a Christmas movie.  This is exactly the kind of value you get with a book like Christmas in the Movies–this movie will now be added to my own favorite Christmas movie list.  For each entry Arnold discusses the actors, plot, audience reception and the impact of the film, and why it’s a good Christmas season film for audiences today.

Along with Die Hard, which is smartly defended by Arnold, you’ll find the usual suspects like Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Elf, plus some lesser known gems, like Remember the Night, the first of four films that would pair Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, plus Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten in I’ll Be Seeing You, and Humphrey Bogart in We’re No AngelsArnold picks up genre films Gremlins and The Nightmare Before Christmas, and even a few Westerns, including 3 Godfathers starring John Wayne.

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Miss Fury first anthology cover

Miss Fury was ahead of her time.  The superhero moniker and nickname of Marla Drake, she was less a femme fatale, cast aside by the males that shared the comic page as with other contemporary tales, instead planted in the center of the action.  She was a true heroine, who, while maintaining her sex appeal and motherly nature (adopting a child during the series run), she was a strategic thinker and always the most cunning person in the room, despite male dominated conventions of the 1940s.  In fact, despite some handsome and well-intentioned male friends and companions, it’s the women of the series that are the most interesting, with oafish and blumbering men left for the supporting roles.

June Tarpé Mills was ahead of her time.  Serving as story writer and artist for the popular nearly decade running Miss Fury comic strip, she created the first costumed super-heroine when Superman and Batman were just getting their footholds in the fantasy realm.  Her character drawing is incredible and modern readers might compare her comic art style with modern-day Wonder Woman artist Cliff Chiang, her compositions with Alex Ross, and her glamour with Adam Hughes.  All of these comparisons are accurate and compliment each of these artists.  Mills’ story arcs collected in Tarpé Mills & Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1944 – 1949 anthology hardcover from IDW Publishing are intriguing and compelling–so much so that you could overlook the detailed “costuming” of Mills’ men and women.  But what you would miss.  Men were dressed appropriately in snappy suits, her women sport a historical catalog of designs, fabrics, colors, and styles, as well as a variety of 1940s hairdos.  Miss Fury might as well be a sourcebook for clothing historians.

Mills accomplished something many modern comic book readers beg for–less costumed character stories (i.e. Batman stories) and more secret identity doing the detective work out of the costume (i.e. Bruce Wayne stories).  In fact, you will hardly see Marla Drake appear in her catsuit in the pages of Miss Fury.  And it won’t bother you one bit.

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