In the Year of Our Shame, 2023


We’re back for another twelve doses of Shame in 2023, and since last year’s jaunt through Poverty Row was so much fun, I thought it would be cool to go back there–it’s kind of unexplored country in terms of blogging and film history. Plus, over the past year I’ve found a lot of intriguing titles on Amazon Prime and some of them are on this list. And to round things out, there are a couple of movies I’ve been meaning to watch for over twenty years and never really had the time, but we’ll get to that.

For those who aren’t familiar with this whole Shame thing, it’s basically a challenge issued every year by the good folks at Cinema Shame to the blogging world: Watch those movies you’ve always meant to or feel like you’ve seen but never really have, and when you do, let everyone know about it.

So yeah, here we go…

The Wrecking Crew (2008)

Two members of The Wrecking Crew with one member of The Beatles. (Way Too Indie)

The sole entry on this list that was made in this century, The Wrecking Crew is about the prolific Los Angeles-based studio band who backed just about everyone who recorded in LA between the nineteen-fifties through the nineteen-seventies, from Elvis to George Harrison to Frank Sinatra to the Righteous Brothers to Phil Spector and countless others. Directed by Danny Tedesco, son of Wrecking Crew guitarist Tommy Tedesco, this documentary looks unbelievably cool.

Ticket To Paradise (1936)

TICKET TO PARADISE, Wendy Barrie, Roger Pryor, 1936
Rotten Tomatoes

Here’s the plot of Ticket To Paradise in a nutshell: A man gets amnesia after a car accident and a wealthy socialite goes on a crazy journey with him to recover his memory. Meanwhile, her dad isn’t too jazzed about his daughter’s new project and hires a private detective to tail them. I know I shouldn’t, but I get that one Eddie Money song in my head whenever I think of this movie. You’re welcome.

The Amazing Adventure (1936)


A very, very early Cary Grant vehicle, The Amazing Adventure follows Ernest Bliss, a rich fellow who makes a bet that he can live like the other half for a year without touching his inheritance. I don’t know much about this movie, but I have to wonder if the title is overstating things. Guess we’ll all find out, then. And since it’s a British film, maybe we’ll get to hear Cary Grant’s original accent or something close to it.

Susan and God (1940)


Susan is rich and privileged and doesn’t mind showing it, but when she comes back from a trip to Europe seemingly changed, her friends are suspicious, especially when she enables their bad behavior. I have always wanted to see this movie and only just recently bought the DVD, so now’s my chance.

The North Star (1943)


I tried watching The North Star years ago on TCM but turned it off ten minutes in because seeing overly perky Russians was off-putting. All the ones I knew escaped from behind the Iron Curtain and none of them were perky when they got to America, although they were glad to be here, and seeing happy Russians in this movie felt weird. Well, it turns out that these characters are Ukrainian, not Russian, and lately I’ve been wondering what comes after the first ten minutes.

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

Cleveland Institute of Art

The Hidden Fortress has been on my radar ever since I found out George Lucas partially based his original Star Wars trilogy on it, especially the characters of C-3PO and R2-D2. It’s also been on my HBO Max list for a few years now, so I’m thinking I need to get on this one.

Starcrash (1978)

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

More Star Wars stuff, only this time we’re talking about one of the many shameless rip-offs that followed A New Hope. Heck, the hero even carries a lightsaber. The IMDb synopsis reads thusly: “An outlaw smuggler and her alien companion are recruited by the Emperor of the Galaxy to rescue his son and destroy a secret weapon by the evil Count Zarth Arn.” Yep, Starcrash is gonna suck. At least Christopher Plummer and David Hasselhoff are in it.

The Pleasure Garden (1925)


OK, go ahead and think it: This title looks a wee bit dirty. Yes. Yes, it does. The basic plot appears no better, as it involves the intertwining of two different romances involving two different couples. Amazingly enough, it was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, so the odds are good that the film is going to be full of surprises.

Calendar Girl (1947)

Zeus DVDs

Depending on who’s asked, Calendar Girl looks like a Stage Door ripoff or maybe just a plain old cautionary tale of starving artists, as it’s the story of four friends who move to Greenwich Village to work in the performing arts. Of course, making one’s presence felt in a very competitive field is tougher than it looks, but sometimes there’s nothing to do but try. While the film boasts a pretty good cast including Kenny Baker and Irene Rich, it seems to have been mostly overlooked.

Submarine Alert (1943)


Another overlooked film, Submarine Alert doesn’t include a lot of big names but might be interesting, as it’s all about spy rings, Japanese subs, Fifth Columnists, and shipping lanes disrupted by enemy fire. I’m interested to see why this movie didn’t make more of a splash besides its lack of A-list actors, because supply disruption was a very common problem in both the Pacific and Atlantic, particularly early in the Second World War.

Trapeze (1956)

Classic Movie Favorites

Who else knew Burt Lancaster originally trained as an acrobat? I did, not that it wasn’t totally obvious, because when the guy stood at attention he looked as if he was going to do a backward somersault or something. Also starring Gina Lollobrigida and Tony Curtis, Trapeze is an aerial backstage story that might not be half bad.

Streamline Express (1935)

Radio Times

An actress ditches her opening night to elope with her fiancé and hop on a cross-country train, only to find her director has also hopped on the same train. One of the things I’m curious about with this one is seeing Victor Jory in a lead role, as he usually seemed to play supporting or bit characters. It was a real shame because he was a classically trained actor who could bring it when given half a chance.

And there you have it. I think 2023 is going to be a fun one. Thanks for reading, all, and I hope to see you Sunday, because another announcement is on the way…

If you’re enjoying what you see on Taking Up Room, please look for additional content on Substack, where you’ll find both free and subscriber-only articles. I publish every Wednesday and Saturday.

8 thoughts on “In the Year of Our Shame, 2023

  1. The North Star is the worst kind of agitprop. It improves a bit after the godawful opening, but it really could not get any worse.

    Trapeze is worth a look. Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis are fine, and both the plotting and acrobatics are decently enjoyable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes, North Star might be a wee bit painful, but I’ll take one for the team. And that’s good to know about Trapeze–thanks. It’ll be fun watching Burt Lancaster fly through the air. 🙂


  2. I really enjoyed North Star, possibly because it’s one of the very few movies to say anything at all about the contributions of Ukrainians during WWII. It’s bittersweet, though, so I can only watch it once in a while. But there’s a Dana Andrews line involving pancakes that I quote a lot 🙂


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