Thursday, May 10, 2012

TCM TiVo Alert for May 15-22

May 15–May 22


DEAD END - The sound you just heard was a pin drop. I hate the Dead End Kids/East Side Kids/Bowery Boys. But their first movie: a gritty, authentic look at life in the slums of New York City is a keeper. It's based on a play of the same name and the movie is filmed like a play. Humphrey Bogart as Baby Face Martin, a gangster who returns to his childhood neighborhood, shows flashes of brilliance in this film that would return in movies such as CasablancaThe Big SleepThe Maltese Falcon and Key Largo. As for the kids, Billy Halop (as Tommy Gordon, the leader of the gang) is one of the most annoying movie actors I've seen. This is easily his best role as it's downhill for him after this film. Also, the other kids - Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall and Billy Jordan - peak with this film. The film also sports nice performances by Joel McCrea as an unemployed architect down on his luck and Claire Trevor as the neighborhood prostitute with syphilis.

BLACKBOARD JUNGLE - An excellent JD movie with Glenn Ford as the teacher trying to put the high school kids on the right track. Sidney Poitier and Ford work exceptionally well with Poitier as the defiant student and Ford seeing promise in him and trying to bring it out into the open. Vic Morrow plays the worst of the worst kids to near perfection. The scene in which Morrow’s character destroys a teacher's most-beloved items, his record collection, in class as the teacher is trying to reach the kids, is an incredibly haunting piece of cinema. And the soundtrack is great, particularly the opening credits with “Rock Around the Clock.”


THE RULES OF THE GAME – This is Jean Renoir’s biting satire of the French middle class, their foibles, rituals, and most of all, their class distinctions. A heavy hand at the helm could have sunk this movie before it gets going, but Renoir keeps a light and skillful touch at all times. His fluid camerawork and adept staging still keeps this film fresh after all these years. We in America didn’t catch on to this sort of comedy until the arrival of Upstairs, Downstairs on Masterpiece Theatre.

RIFIFI – Leave it to a master craftsman like Jules Dassin to make one of the great Heist-Gone-Wrong films. Four cronies plan the perfect crime and have everything figured out to the letter – except for each other, and this proves to be the fatal mistake. Because it was a low budget film, Dassin couldn’t afford a star like Jean Gabin, but he does quite fine with the hand he’s dealt. In his review for the French newspaper Arts, Francois Truffaut wrote: “Jules Dassin made the best ‘noir’ film I have ever see from the worst roman noir I have ever read.” The novel’s author, Auguste LeBreton co-wrote the screenplay and later wrote Bob The Gambler, another top-notch crime thriller, for Jean-Paul Melville. It seems LeBreton translated better into film than he did into print.


ED: A+. Stanley Kubrick took Vladimir Nabokov’s tale of youth, obsession and sex and, to get around the censors, turned it into a dark comedy for the ages. James Mason is brilliant as a man trapped by the inner demons trying to break through the refined, intellectual shell. And Sue Lyons hits all the right notes as the object of Mason’s desire. In fact, this was to be the high point of her career. Never again would she even come close to the praise she received for her role as Lolita. Mason and Lyon aside, however, it is Peter Sellers and Shelley Winters, the supporting actors, that walk away with the film. Sellers is his usual brilliant self, playing three characters, with his Mr. Quilty clearly the best of the lot, a real scene stealer. Winters gives what I think is the finest performance of her career as the lonely, sex-staved shrill of a housewife who knows men are attracted to her only for her daughter. Adrian Lyne’s remake is closer to the novel, and Jeremy Irons is excellent in the Mason role. But Melanie Griffith only goes to show just how good Shelley Winters was in the role. Watch the remake by all means, but this is the best version by far.

DAVID: C+. When I first saw this film I was disappointed more than anything else. I'm a fan of James Mason, Peter Sellers and Stanley Kubrick. It's not a bad movie, but I expect so much more from that three. Actually, the best performance comes from Shelley Winters. The movie is far too long; more than 2 1/2 hours with no purpose for some scenes, particularly the ones with Lolita and Humbert Humbert (Mason) "on the run." It just kept going on and on, boring me at times. To me, there is no more damning indictment of a movie than making me bored. It's worse than being confusing or ridiculous. It has its funny moments, but not nearly enough to merit the length of the film.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)
May 15

10:00 am -- LOLITA (MGM, 1962): Peter Sellers, James Mason, & Sue Lyon. Stanley Kubrick’s classic about middle-aged man Mason in love with teenager Lyon. Rating: See Above.

12:45 pm -- UNDER CAPRICORN (WB, 1949): Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton. Newly arrived in Australia, a man discovers his childhood love is now an alcoholic. C

2:45 pm -- THE MAN WITH A CLOAK (MGM, 1951): Joseph Cotten, Barbara Stanwyck, & Louis Calhern. A mystery man helps a young woman escape from a murderous housekeeper. B

8:00 pm -- GUN CRAZY (U.A., 1949): John Dall, Peggy Cummins. The ahead-of-its-time sex and guns cult classic that helped inspire the French New Wave directors. Loosely based on Bonnie and Clyde, Dall and Cummins star as the murderous couple. A+

9:45 pm -- REMEMBER THE NIGHT (Paramount, 1940): Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray. Arrested on Christmas Eve, shoplifter Lee Leander (Stanwyck) ends up spending the holiday at the home of Assistant D.A. John Sargeant (MacMurray). A-

4:15 am -- MIDNIGHT MARY (MGM, 1933): Loretta Young, Ricardo Cortez. Anita Loos penned & William Wellman directed this story of an abused orphan that drifts into a life of crime. B+

May 16

9:15 am -- THE LONG NIGHT (RKO, 1947): Henry Fonda, Barbara BelGeddes, & Vincent Price. Anatole Litvak’s noir is about a suspected criminal (Fonda) who reflects on the circumstances that led to his predicament when the police surround his apartment. A

1:15 pm -- MISTER ROBERTS (WB, 1955): Henry Fonda as an officer aboard a supply ship who yearns for transfer to a fighting ship. With James Cagney, William Powell, and Jack Lemmon, who won the Academy Award for Supporting Actor. A

8:00 pm -- DEAD END (U.A., 1937): Humphrey Bogart, Joel McCrea, Silvia Sidney, The Dead End Kids. Gritty urban drama as The Dead End Kids, an unemployed architect (McCrea), and gangster Baby Face Martin (Bogart) interact in an East Side neighborhood over one day and one night. A

2:30 am -- THESE THREE (Goldwyn, 1936): Joel McCrea, Merle Oberon. William Wyler directed this film version of Lillian Hellman’s play, The Children’s Hour, about how an invented scandal destroys the lives of two schoolteachers. A

May 17

10:45 am -- PARADISE FOR THREE (MGM, 1938): Frank Morgan, Robert Young. A business mingles with German laborers to learn more about their lives. C

1:45 pm -- WE WERE DANCING (MGM, 1942): Norma Shearer, Melvyn Douglas. A Polish princess gives up society for the love of a gigolo in this hokey adaptation of Noel Coward’s Tonight. It’s Ava Gardner’s movie debut. C-

3:30 pm -- GOVERNMENT GIRL (RKO, 1944): Olivia DeHavilland, Sonny Tufts. A production expert and a secretary are thrown together in wartime Washington. C

5:15 pm -- A NIGHT IN CASABLANCA (UA, 1946): The next to last Marx Brothers film finds them fighting Nazi spies in Casablanca. Better than their last three pictures for MGM, but they clearly show their age.  Harpo, however, has one of the best sight gags in the history of movies. C+

6:45 pm -- SPY CHASERS (A.A., 1955): The Bowery Boys. Slip, Sach and the gang get mixed up in political intrigue when they try to help an exiled European king and his daughter regain the throne that is rightfully theirs. D

10:00 pm -- CALL NORTHSIDE 777 (20th Century Fox, 1948): James Stewart, Richard Conte, & Lee J. Cobb. Convinced the man is innocent, reporter Stewart re-opens a ten-year old murder case. A

4:45 am -- DR. CRIPPEN (WB, 1964): Donald Pleasance, Samantha Eggar. True story of a doctor hanged in London in 1910 for poisoning his wife. B

May 18

6:30 am -- THE MIRACLE WOMAN (Columbia, 1931): Barbara Stanwyck, David Manners. The story of a woman that has lost her faith until an encounter with a blind man leads to its restoration. Directed by Frank Capra. B+

12:00 pm -- IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (Columbia, 1934): Claudette Colbert, Clark Gable. It’s the classic movie that elevated Gable from contract player into a superstar. He plays a reporter pursuing runaway bride Colbert. A+

2:00 pm -- YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU (Columbia, 1938): James Stewart, Jean Arthur. Frank Capra directed this adaptation of the Kaufman-Hart stage play about a man (Stewart) from a stuffy family who is engaged a woman (Arthur) from a decidedly eccentric family. The families must meet before the wedding, and chaos erupts. B+

6:00 pm -- MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (Columbia, 1936): Frank Capra’s film about a simple Vermont man (Gary Cooper) whose life is thrown in chaos when he inherits $20 million from a distant relative. A classic. A+

8:00 pm -- AMERICAN GRAFFITI (Universal, 1973): Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard. George Lucas directed this film about four high school seniors facing an uncertain future as they try to live through their last big school dance. B+

10:00 pm -- ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK (Columbia, 1956): Sam Katzman, who always seems to cash in first on every trend, made the first film actually about rock ‘n’ roll. Supposedly the story of Bill Haley and the Comets, watch it for the music. C

4:30 am -- THE SLAMS (Penelope Productions, 1973): Jim Brown, Judy Pace. An imprisoned man (Brown) gets several offers to help him escape, if he will reveal where the $1.5 million he stole from the mob is hidden. B

May 19

10:45 am -- A CLOSE CALL FOR BOSTON BLACKIE (Columbia, 1946): Chester Morris, George E. Stone. Blackie rescues an old girl friend from a kidnapping and becomes involved in murder. B-

4:30 pm -- THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (MGM, 1955): Glenn Ford, Anne Francis. Ford is a teacher who must face head-on the problems of juvenile delinquency in his high school. Vic Morrow, Sidney Poitier and Jamie Farr supply the delinquency. A-

10:00 pm -- THE LONG VOYAGE HOME (U.A., 1940): Thomas Mitchell, John Wayne. John Ford directed this tale of a merchant ship’s crew trying to survive the loneliness of the sea and the coming of war. A

12:00 am -- THE OUTLAW (Howard Hughes Productions, 1943): One of the great bad movies, it was hyped with Hughes’s latest discovery, Jane Russell and promising to be bad. Yes it was. Supposedly the story of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, it’s a badly directed, badly acted, badly written laugh riot. Total Entertainment!! Rear projection dominates to the point where it’s even funnier. And the soundtrack has a trombone that goes WAHWAHWAH whenever a scene is supposed to be funny. Great stuff. F

2:00 am -- THE GRAPES OF WRATH (20th Cent. Fox, 1940): Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell. John Ford’s masterpiece about disposed Okie farmers; based on the novel by Steinbeck. Fonda stars, but Ford regular John Carradine has some great moments. A+

4:15 am -- CITIZEN KANE (RKO, 1941): Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten & Everett Sloane. Cited by many critics as the best movie ever made, it’s the story of newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane and what made him tick. Kane is loosely based on real-life newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst and his newspaper chain tried to shut the film down during and after production.  A++

May 20

10:00 am -- THE GREAT McGINTY (Paramount, 1940): Brian Donlevy, Akim Tamiroff. Presrton Sturges directed this satirical classic about a hobo (Donlevy) that eventually rises to become governor after hooking up with a crooked political boss. A+

10:30 pm -- A GENTLEMAN AT HEART (20th Century Fox, 1942): Cesar Romero, Carole Landis. A modest comedy about a bookie (Romero) who discovers a talent for art forgery. C+

2:00 am -- RULES OF THE GAME (Janus Films, 1939): Jean Renoir, Nora Gregor, & Marcel Dalio. Renoir directed and stars in this satire of the upper class set at a French country estate, where romantic intrigues play out both upstairs and downstairs. A++

4:00 am -- A DAY IN THE COUNTRY (Un Partie de Campagne) (Pantheon, 1936): Sylvia Bataille, Jeanne Marken. Jean Renoir directed this tale of a mother and daughter finding romance at a picnic while the men are out fishing. B+

May 21

6:45 am -- FAITHLESS (MGM, 1932): Tallulah Bankhead, Robert Montgomery. A spoiled rich girl is wiped out in the Depression. B

9:45 am -- WHEN LADIES MEET (MGM, 1932): Ann Harding, Robert Montgomery, & Myrna Loy. A female novelist doesn’t realize her new friend is the wife whose husband she’s trying to steal. B

11:15 am -- TROUBLE FOR TWO (MGM, 1936): Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russell. An offbeat black comedy about a European prince, about to marry, who joins a suicide club. A-

12:45 pm -- MR. AND MRS. SMITH (RKO, 1941): Carole Lombard, Robert Montgomery. Alfred Hitchcock directed this comedy about a quarrelsome couple who suddenly discover their marriage isn’t legal. B

8:00 pm -- NORMA RAE (20th Century Fox, 1979): Sally Field, Beau Bridges. A young single mother and her co-worker try to unionize the mill where they work. A+

10:00 pm -- PLACES IN THE HEART (Columbia, 1984): Sally field, John Malkovich. A farmer’s widow fights to keep her land during the Depression. B+

12:00 am -- ABSENCE OF MALICE (Columbia, 1981): Paul Newman, Sally Field. An ambitious reporter unwittingly slanders a businessman under federal investigation. A

May 22

6:00 am -- THE GREEN PROMISE (RKO, 1949): Walter Brennan, Marguerite Chapman. A tyrannical father (Brennan) forces his daughter into a hard choice between love and her obligation to help him work the family farm. B

7:30 am -- BLOOD ON THE MOON (RKO, 1948): Robert Mitchum, Barbara Bel Geddes. A gunslinger, hired to drive off a rancher, falls in love with the man’s daughter. C+

10:45 am -- TERM OF TRIAL (WB, 1962): Laurence Olivier, Simone Signoret. Olivier is a schoolteacher accused of molesting a student. B+

12:00 pm -- THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN (U.A., 1969): Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, and Trevor Howard.  An all-star cast heads this excellent recreation of one of the greatest battles of World War 2. A+

6:30 pm -- IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (Columbia, 1955): Faith Domergue, Kenneth Tobey. Fun opus about a giant octopus, disturbed by H-bomb tests, who then decides to sightsee in San Francisco. Tobey is the hard-bitten Navy man and the luscious Domergue is every young boy’s favorite scientist. Produced by Sam Katzman, whose cheapness caused Ray Harryhausen to give the octopus only six legs (!). B

8:00 pm -- THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA (MGM, 1964): Richard Burton, Ava Gardner. John Huston directed this adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s play about a defrocked priest who travels to Mexico, where he confronts his destiny while exploring the sins of the flesh. B+

10:15 pm -- WINGS OF DESIRE (Argos Films, 1987): Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin. An angel, tired of overseeing human activity, wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal. Directed by Wim Wenders. B

12:45 am -- RIFIFI (Pathe Consortium Cinema, 1955): Jean Servais, Carl Mohner, and Robert Manuel. Jules Dassin’s brilliant crime caper about four men who plan the perfect jewel heist, but forget human frailty. Think of The Asphalt Jungle, but even more hard-boiled. A MUST SEE!  A++

No comments:

Post a Comment