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Otto Preminger's greatest hits

Advise and Consent
Advise and Consent
Columbia Pictures

Austrian-born Otto Ludwig Preminger, a/k/a "Otto the Ogre," was one of the most powerful filmmakers in Hollywood throughout the '40s and '50s, known for pushing the envelope on subject matter, memorably striking a blow against censorship when the ban on his film "The Moon Is Blue" was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. He is also fondly remembered by baby boomers for his role as Mr. Freeze on the "Batman" TV series. On Thursday December 5th, Turner Classic Movies presents an all-day marathon of some of Preminger's best films (all times Central):

'Bunny Lake Is Missing' (1965)
Columbia Pictures
  • 8 a.m. "Angel Face"
  • 9:45 a.m. "The Man with the Golden Arm"
  • 11:45 a.m. "Anatomy of a Murder"
  • 2:30 p.m. "Advise and Consent"
  • 5 p.m. "Bunny Lake Is Missing"

In honor of TCM's Ottothon, here, in alphabetical order, are Otto Preminger's Greatest Hits:

"Advise and Consent" (1962): Political drama that marked the beginning of the end of Preminger's run as an A-list director. All-star cast is led by Henry Fonda, Don Murray, and Charles Laughton.

"Anatomy of a Murder" (1959): James Stewart stars as a small-town lawyer trying to get his unsympathetic client (Ben Gazzara) off on a murder rap. With Lee Remick.

"Angel Face" (1952): Robert Mitchum gets mixed up with a screwy dame (Jean Simmons) who's also a murderer.

Bonjour Tristesse (1958): Preminger adapted Françoise Sagan's coming of age novel with his "Saint Joan" star, Jean Seberg, in the lead. With David Niven.

"Bunny Lake Is Missing" (1965): Hokey tale of a young mother, played by Carol Lynley, and her search for a lost child, who may or may not exist. Laurence Olivier is excellent as the skeptical investigator, Keir Dullea less so as Lynley's creepy brother. With Noel Coward and The Zombies.

"Carmen Jones" (1954): With a charismatic performance by Dorothy Dandridge in the title role, this musical adaptation of Bizet's "Carmen" was a hit for Otto, and led to a lengthy affair between star and director.

"Exodus" (1960): Overlong epic about the creation of the Israeli state. With Paul Newman, Eve Marie Saint, and Sal Mineo.

"Forever Amber" (1947): Originally cast with Peggy Cummins and Vincent Price in the leads, then recast with Linda Darnell and Richard Greene, this adaptation of Kathleen Winsor's novel was one of Otto's first major battles with the censors. Preminger was forced to rewrite and reshoot chunks of the movie to avoid to being on the Catholic Legion of Decency's "condemned" list. After the edits and reshoots, the film was re-classified as "Class B: Objectionable in Part."

"Laura" (1944): Preminger arrived as a force to be reckoned with by helming this classic film noir. With Gene Tierney as the femme fatale of the title, Dana Andrews, and Clifton Webb.

"The Man with the Golden Arm" (1955): Frank Sinatra stars as a hapless dopefiend in the film version of Nelson Algren's novel. With Kim Novak and, as the pusher, Darren McGavin.

"The Moon Is Blue" (1953): Harmless rom-com caused controversy with the use of the word "virgin." Next stop, the Supreme Court!

"Porgy and Bess" (1959): Unlike "Carmen Jones," this film was rife with stereotypes, and with their sexual relationship over, Preminger was now extremely cruel to star Dorothy Dandridge. With Sidney Poitier as Porgy and Sammy Davis Jr. as Sportin' Life.

"River of No Return" (1954): Early Marilyn Monroe vehicle has its moments, but Otto was no fan of the actress, famously calling her "A vacuum with nipples."

"Saint Joan" (1958): Adapted from the George Bernard Shaw play, an attempt at the definitive screen treatment of the life and death of Joan of Arc (Jean Seberg). Falls short of the mark, but has its moments.

"Such Good Friends" (1971): An upper middle class woman (Dyann Cannon), whose husband lapses into a coma following routine surgery, discovers his little black book. From a script by Elaine May (under pseudonym) and Joan Didion (uncredited).

"Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon" (1969): A burn victim (Liza Minelli), an epileptic (Ken Howard), and a gay paraplegic (Robert Moore) come together in rural Massachusetts. From the Marjorie Kellogg novel.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" (1950): Preminger re-teamed with the stars of "Laura" for this even darker film noir, with Dana Andrews as a good cop gone bad, and Gene Tierney as a woman who's no damn good.

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J.M. Dobies, Austin Classic Movies Examiner Facebook Page

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