Friday, June 28, 2013

TCM TiVo Alert for July 1-7

July 1–July 7


THE GOODBYE GIRL (July 1, 11:00 pm): Before Richard Dreyfuss thought he was a brilliant actor, he was a brilliant actor. This 1977 film, in which he won an Oscar for Best Actor (becoming, at the time, the youngest to win the award), is a perfect example of that. The screenplay, written by Neil Simon, is good, but the acting and interaction between Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason and Quinn Cummings (the latter two were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively) are outstanding. Cummings, who was 10 when the film was released, is marvelous as Mason's precocious daughter. It's a very charming and entertaining romantic comedy.

THE DEVIL DOLL (July 7, 9:30 pm): Because Lionel Barrymore was so wonderful and likable in nearly every role he played, it's somewhat difficult to imagine him playing a vengeful criminal (wrongfully convicted, of course). His character escapes Devil's Island and plots his revenge against those who framed him in this 1936 film directed by Tod Browning, who co-wrote it. Oh, and he dresses like an old woman at times. But Barrymore was such a pro that he handles himself exceptionally well in this science fiction classic in which he shrinks people to one-sixth their size. Maureen O'Sullivan is good as his daughter and Rafaela Ottiano is amazing as his partner in crime who takes evil to a new level.


1776 (July 4, 1:30 am): A musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence? You’re kidding, right? No, we’re not kidding, and furthermore, it’s quite good. Based on the play, it retains many of those originally performed it. William Daniels is splendid as John Adams, Ken Howard makes for a most effective Thomas Jefferson, and Howard DaSilva is the spitting image of Ben Franklin. Throw in Virgina Vestoff as Abigail Adams and Blythe Danner as Martha Jefferson, and the film really rocks. Watch out, however, for John Cullum as Edward Rutledge of South Carolina. He brings down the house with “Molasses to Rum to Slaves.” Other numbers to look for include “But Mr. Adams,” “Cool Cool, Considerate Men” (My favorite), and the heart tugging “Mama Look Sharp.” American history was never this much fun.

STOLEN KISSES (July 5, 10:30 pm): In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful films Truffaut made, and more than a step forward from his Nouvelle Vague days. It follows the continuing adventures of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud), whom Truffaut introduced to the world in The 400 Blows. Doinel has just been dishonorably discharged from the army for questionable character. He takes on a series of odd jobs while trying to find his niche in life. And, of course, there’s the love of his young life – Christine Darbon (played with a combination of gentleness and verve by Claude Jade). His only problem in regards to Christine is they can’t manage to find themselves on the same page, and this is the basis for much of the film’s humor. Watch for the scene where Antoine proposes. The camerawork is excellent and the score enhances the action on the screen. It’s just a wonderful film to sit back and watch.


ED: A-. One of best musicals from a studio renowned for its musicals, MGM, Anchors Aweigh features seamless performances from stars Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson. Kelly and Sinatra were so good together that the studio later starred them in two other musicals, Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and On the Town. The film is also noted for Kelly's dance with Jerry the mouse, a breakthrough in combining live action with animation (though Warner Bros. did it first in 1940 with You Ought to Be in Pictures). Kelly does what he does best, dancing; Sinatra does what he does best, singing. The score by Kahn and Styne is superb and Jose Iturbi impresses on the piano. (Only at MGM could Iturbi be turned into a star.) Do we fans of musicals need any more than that? I don't think so. 

DAVID: C+. As a rule of thumb, I dislike musicals. And dance musicals? They're typically even worse. This isn't a bad dance musical, but there's nothing extraordinary about it to make it stand out among the dozens and dozens of dance musicals from what was the golden age of the genre. If you confuse this 1945 film that pairs Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra as sailors on leave in Los Angeles with On the Town, a 1949 film that pairs the two as sailors on leave in New York City, you are forgiven. The plots are similar and there is nothing special about either. Sinatra's better movies - SuddenlyThe Man with the Golden Arm, and The Manchurian Candidate - were dramas and not musicals. It's obvious Kelly worked hard in his films and was a special talent, but even he and Sinatra couldn't do anything to turn this weak film into anything more than a mediocre movie. Kelly dances with Jerry Mouse. It's a cute camera trick, but nothing more than that. Besides, I'm a Tom Cat fan.

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

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