TCM TiVo ALERT
April 23–April 30
DAVID’S BEST BETS:
THE ENTERTAINER (April 24, 8:00 pm): A powerful film starring Laurence Olivier as a has-been music-hall entertainer who desperately tries to return to the limelight no matter the cost. There are no redeeming qualities about Olivier's character, Archie Rice, yet the legendary actor's performance is so strong that you can't help but feel sorry for his pathetic existence. Rice successfully alienates or destroys the lives of his family as he lies, cheats, seduces and connives his way onto the stage for a big comeback. The price he pays is steep. The supporting cast, particularly Alan Bates and Albert Finney, is outstanding and the vastly underrated Tony Richardson directs.
THE SEVENTH SEAL (April 28, 2:15 am): Ingmar Bergman directed better films - of note is Wild Strawberries, released 10 months after The Seventh Seal in 1957 - but none is more iconic than this movie about Antonius Block, a medieval knight (Max von Sydow). Block returns from fighting in the Crusades to Sweden, which is going through the Black Plague. As if things couldn't get any worse, he meets Death or the personification of Death on a beach and is told it's his time to go. He convinces Death to play a game of chess for his life and then accidentally gives away his strategy. On the surface, it sounds ridiculous, but this is about as close as a film can get to a work of art. It is beautiful, poignant, tragic and uplifting - sometimes in the same scene. It's very abstract, but what do you expect when you can play a game of chess with Death to save your life? More filmmakers should not worry about spelling everything out for their audiences and leave things open to interpretation. That's what makes Bergman one of the greatest cinematic directors. Love and Death, Woody Allen's clever 1975 comedy - which draws inspiration from this film, unlike some of his others that just steal from Bergman - follows The Seventh Seal on TCM.
ED’S BEST BETS:
TARANTULA (April 27, 1:45 pm): William Alland produced and Jack Arnold directed this way-better-than-average story about a humongous spider on the loose in the Arizona desert. Seems mad scientist Leo G. Carroll’s experimental growth formula works a little too well and with the wrong subjects. It’s one of the best giant-insect-on-the-loose films and boasts fast pacing, wonderful special effects, and a rare good performance by John Agar as a country doctor. Mara Corday supplies the required eye candy and damsel in distress as Carroll’s grad assistant. Also look for a brief glimpse of Clint Eastwood as the jet squadron leader.
RIO BRAVO (April 27, 11:45 pm): Howard Hawks produced and directed this wonderful western with John Wayne as a sheriff who must prevent a killer with wealthy family connection from escaping his jail. Wayne can only enlist a drunken Dean Martin, gimpy Walter Brennan and tenderfoot Ricky Nelson to help him. Oh yeah, he also has the beautiful Angie Dickinson on his side. Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman wrote the script. The French critics fell over themselves praising this when it came out, but never mind, it’s a classic anyway.
WE DISAGREE ON ... GILDA (April 30, 4:15 am)
ED: B+. I think that right about now I’m going to get myself in a whole lot of trouble with my estimation of this film. Yeah, yeah, it’s a classic, but I never was that crazy about it. No doubt about it, Hayworth is sexy and the “Put the Blame on Mame” number is one of the best in the history of Hollywood. But for me, the problem is with the leading man: Glenn Ford is simply not my idea of someone Hayworth would chase after. Cary Grant, yes; Humphrey Bogart, yes; not Glenn Ford. He radiates about as much sex appeal in this film as a herring; their relationship is incomprehensible, due to the fact there is little chemistry between he and Hayworth; odd for two people that are supposed to be so involved. Also – so little plot for a noir. For me, it’s a film on the cusp. Give it a little more in the way of a plot and a more believable leading man, and it’s worth an A. If you’re looking for a film made the same year with a much better star chemistry and plot, try Notorious.
DAVID: A+. Rita Hayworth is cinema's greatest femme fatale in the title role of this 1946 film noir classic. She incredibly gorgeous, and her form-fitting dresses and how she is filmed only adds to her sex appeal. Glenn Ford had a number of memorable roles in his career, but his portrayal of Johnny Farrell, a down-on-his-luck hustler in this film, is among his best. George Macready is strong as Ballin Mundson, a casino owner who also happens to be working with the Nazis. Little does anyone know that Gilda, married to Mundson, had a torrid affair with Farrell years earlier, and the two haven't resolved their feelings. In this role, Hayworth could have chemistry with a rock. Fortunately, Ford has considerably more talent than said rock and the two sizzle on the screen. The cinematography, Hayworth's performance and the dynamics between the three main characters makes this a classic even though the plot could use some assistance.
For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.