Sunday, October 21, 2012

TCM TiVo Alert for October 23-31

October 23 – October 31


ALL THE KING'S MEN (October 25, 8:00 pm): The phrase "all-time favorite" is as overused as the word "genius." But, without a doubt, this 1949 film with Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark (based on Louisiana Gov. Huey Long) is one of my top 10 all-time favorite movies. This is, by far, Crawford's greatest performance as Stark, a political nobody who compromises his principles in order to gain political power and eventually become a well-loved populist and corrupt governor. Crawford's ability to play Stark as a larger-than-life character is captivating. There are other excellent performances from John Ireland as Jack Burden, a journalist who "discovers" Stark and helps him climb the political ladder, stepping over anyone in the way; and Raymond Greenleaf as Judge Monte Stanton, Burden's mentor and role model. If you love politics, this is the best movie on the subject ever made. If you hate politics, you'll love this film as it gives you plenty of reasons to confirm your belief on the subject.

REPULSION (October 31, 11:00 am): This is director Roman Polanski's first English film, and it is as strange and complex as him. Catherine Deneuve is a beautiful and mentally-unstable manicurist who bites her nails and is unable to have a normal relationship with a man. Polanski brings out the best in Deneuve as her character slowly progresses into madness. She starts dating a man (played by John Fraser), but left alone while her sister and her sister's boyfriend, who is married, are on vacation, she hallucinates and loses touch with reality. She kills her boyfriend, followed by her creepy landlord. The ending is one of the finest you'll find in a psychological thriller, the genre of film in which Polanski excelled.  

DIABOLIQUE (October 27, 3:00 pm): I’ve recommended this before as a Best Bet and I’m going to do so again. Frankly, I cannot recommend this picture enough. Think of a perfect Hitchcock film without Hitchcock. That’s Diabolique. It’s a taut, beautifully woven thriller with a climax that will truly shock you. Fans of Hitchcock will love this, as will anyone that loves a well-written thriller with the emphasis on character rather than going for the cheap thrill.

HOBSON’S CHOICE (October 28, 10:00 am): David Lean directed this wonderfully droll comedy with Charles Laughton in one of his best and most unforgettable performances. He’s a widower with three daughters to marry off, but things don’t quite turn out like he expected. See this once and you’ll want to see it again . . . and again. Gentle comedies such as this aren’t made anymore; mores the pity. Look for Prunella Scales – later best known as Sybil Fawlty – as one of Laughton’s daughters. If you haven’t seen this before, you’re in for a real treat. And if you have seen it before, I don’t need to tell you to watch it again; you’ll be doing that anyway.


DAVID: A+. One of the most beautiful and touching films I've ever seen. Yeah, it's about a criminal who ends up in a mental institution to avoid hard labor, and how he impacts the tragic and sad lives of the mentally-unstable people in the psych ward. I'm not much of a Jack Nicholson fan. He essentially plays every role the same way, much like Gary Cooper. But Nicholson's same character works perfectly in his portrayal of "Mac" McMurphy. Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched is so memorable as his foil that even though the film was released in 1975, you can call someone Nurse Ratched today and people - even those who've never seen this movie - know what you're talking about. She gives the performance of her life playing the cold and calculating nurse. There are few films that make the viewer hate a fictitious character. This is definitely one of those few. The subtle and not-so-subtle battle of wills between McMurphy and Ratched are the highlights of the film. McMurphy has a plan to escape and would succeed except he wants to treat the friends he made in the ward to a memorable night. The ending is tragic yet inspirational and has me in tears every time I see it. The supporting cast is solid, particularly Brad Dourif (who later was the voice of Chucky, the killer doll in all those horrible films) as Billy, and Will Sampson as the Chief.
ED: B-.  Having first read the book, I can only say that this is a movie that really disappointed me. It was a first-rate production, directed by Milos Forman, and with a name cast. But I found the script plodding, the direction inconsistent, and the acting just passable. I still can’t understand how Louise Fletcher rated an Oscar, but considering the history of the Academy Awards, that’s just another mark on the chalkboard. Jack Nicholson didn’t impress me. He played McMurphy not as Jack Nicholson playing McMurphy, but as Jack Nicholson playing Jack Nicholson playing McMurphy. He portrays the crazy in McMurphy quite well, but leaves the character devoid of the humanity that made me so love McMurphy in the book. Also, the character of the Chief is virtually skipped over, taking away his contribution to the group. I was able to connect with the characters in the book, but as concerns the movie, that’s another story.

For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.

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