‘Lisa’ on TCM

Based on the novel The Inspector by Jan de Hartog, Lisa (1962) is the story of young concentration camp survivor Lisa Held (Dolores Hart), desperate to leave the horrors of Auschwitz behind her and find a new home in the promise of Palestine, a homeland for the Jewish people, and Peter Jongman (Stephen Boyd), a Dutch policeman who puts his career and life on the line to get her to the still-unrecognized country that would soon become Israel. It’s 1946 and Inspector Jongman finds Lisa in the clutches of a notorious white slaver in Amsterdam. But instead of deporting her, he leaves his job to personally take her through the blockades, as an act of atonement for his inaction in World War II. Their odyssey takes them through the canals of Holland and into the underworld of Tangiers.

Director Philip Dunne was better known as an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, responsible for scripting How Green Was My Valley (1941), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965), but he had been a successful director in his own right since making Prince of Players in 1955. He had attempted to option the novel for himself but lost out to Mark Robson, then gladly accepted the assignment when Robson decided to produce the picture and offered the director’s chair to Dunne.

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Plays on TCM on Tuesday, May 27

Classic: The 1936 ‘The Last of the Mohicans’

The Last of the Mohicans (Hen’s Tooth), the 1936 version of James Fenimore Cooper’s adventure, stars Randolph Scott stars as trapper and frontiersman Hawkeye. As in the novel, the Caucasian Hawkeye travels with Chingahook, the last chief of the Mohican tribe, and Uncas, Chingahook’s son, and refuses to join the war against the French but becomes involved when he rescues a British officer and two British women from an ambush.

Philip Dunne’s screenplay takes some defining liberties with the novel that were picked up in subsequent versions, notably a romance between Hawkeye and Alice (Binnie Barnes), daughter of a British colonel fighting on the frontier, to take focus from romance between Uncas and Cora, Alice’s younger sister, in Cooper’s story (preserved in the 1920 silent version). But it is an exciting and involving effective screen version, with Scott as a strong-willed but civilized Hawkeye and Henry Wilcoxon playing a British officer with humility and honor, and some impressive outdoor footage amidst stage-bound scenes in studio forests. It also looks forward to John Ford’s “Drums Along the Mohawk” in its portrait of the French-Indian War and the various tribes aligning with one European side or another, and Michael Mann credits this script as a source for his 1992 adaptation with Daniel Day-Lewis. This is clearly a product of its era, with white actors playing the Native Americans under make-up, but it presents the tribes with a sense of dignity and, for all the nation-building patriotism of the ending, offers an interesting take on the real birth of the nation.

While this is not a restored print, it is mastered from a 35mm print and looks just fine, with some wear and print damage, and it is superior to previous DVD releases. No supplements.

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