Wednesday, October 30, 2013

TCM TiVo Alert for November 1-7

November 1-November 7


WATERLOO BRIDGE (November 5, 9:30 am): While the 1940 version of this film is a bit overproduced – MGM, of course – it's still wonderful with outstanding performances given by the leads, Vivien Leigh (her first film after Gone With the Wind) and Robert Taylor. It's the start of World War II and Taylor is a British Army captain while Leigh is a ballerina. It's love at first sight, but things don't work out so easily with the Nazis trying to blow up England. The two are to be married, but Taylor is called to duty and it only gets worse. Leigh loses her job at the ballet and in order to survive she becomes a prostitute. All hope is lost with Leigh convinced Taylor died in the war after reading his name in the list of those killed in battle. It shows you can't believe everything you read. Some are critical of the ending, but with the Hays Code in play, there wasn't much else to be done. It's still an excellent film.

THE KILLERS (November 6, 8:00 pm): This 1946 film noir is a must-see and a vital part of cinematic history. It's Burt Lancaster's big-screen debut and he's fantastic, particularly his scenes with femme fatale Ava Gardner. It's also the first time William Conrad – yeah, the guy from TV shows Cannon, and Jake and the Fat Man, and more importantly, the narrator of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends – got his screen credit in a film. The first 20 minutes of the film is based on an Ernest Hemingway short story. The screenplay is wonderfully written by John Huston and Richard Brooks, both uncredited, with great cinematography and brilliant acting performances. Lancaster was an incredible film actor, and the great performances he gave on screen started with his role in this movie.


HIS GIRL FRIDAY (November 1, 10:00 pm): It was at least 10 years since the original Front Page, and by the Hollywood clock – time for a remake. But the genius of Howard Hawks was in the casting. Instead of going with another two males in the roles of editor Walter Burns and reporter Hildy Johnson, Hawks thought to make reporter Hildy a woman, formerly married to Burns, and about to leave the paper to remarry. It was pure inspiration, and in my opinion, made the film even funnier. Decorated with all the touches Hawks was famous for, including the overlapping dialogue, it still holds up today and is funnier than ever. Part of the brilliance in the remake was the casting of Cary Grant, a superb comic actor, as Walter Burns. But it was in the part of Hildy Johnson that Hawks struck gold. Jean Arthur, Hawks’ first choice, turned down the role, as did Carole Lombard, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, and Irene Dunne. Columbia studio head managed to borrow Rosalind Russell. She wasn’t thrilled at being assigned to the film and Hawks wasn’t exactly thrilled about having to “settle” for her. But once they got rolling, she turned out to be Hawks’ best move, as she’s perfect in the part: gorgeous, intelligent, sassy, and one step ahead – or so she thinks – of her ex-husband, Burns. It’s not only a movie to watch, but also one for cinephiles to own.

OLD ACQUAINTANCE (November 4, 8:15 am): Imagine, Bette Davis in a ”women’s picture” wonderfully acted and intelligently written where she plays the nice woman. And more to the point – no soap of the type we find in That Certain WomanDark VictoryThe Old Maid, and Now Voyager. Yes, Bette, it can be done. This is the story of best friends. Kit Marlowe (Davis) is a single author of high literary novels. Her friend Millie Drake (Miriam Hopkins), who is married, takes her advice to write and becomes even more famous and financially successful than Kit, though the secret to her success is that she writes trashy novels. Take it from there, fasten your seat belts, and go along for a joyous ride with Bette and Miriam, two women that really hated each other in real life. There is no such thing as disappointment with this movie.

WE DISAGREE ON ... PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (November 4, 10:15 pm)

ED: A-. The beauty in this groundbreaking film lies in the enigma in the center of what at first seems to be a simple plot: A group of students at an upper crust Victorian-era girls’ school take a field trip to Hanging Rock, which is miles away from civilization. During the course of the trip three of the girls and one of the teachers goes missing. What happened? We’re never told. We are told about the purported history of the site; we get the sense that something is not quite right, but we never find out just what it is. Instead, we are left with a sense of impending dread communicated to us by the students themselves. It’s well acted, beautifully written, tightly directed and immaculately filmed in rural Australia.

DAVID: C+. This is a decent film, but nothing special. The cinematography is the best part. The plot has promise, but fails to deliver. A group of school girls have a picnic at Hanging Rock; hmm, that might explain the title. A teacher and three girls mysteriously disappear in what could be a dreamlike trance from being out in the sun too long. One of the girls returns, not knowing how she went missing or what happened to the others. There's no reason given, and the plot and acting aren't strong enough to make up for the contrived mystery at the center of the film. What's odd is there are portions in which there isn't enough plot, such as any hint of an explanation for those missing, and too much plot, such as the parts featuring an orphan girl who is treated poorly throughout the film. Also, is this film about sexual repression, sexual awakening, or have anything to do with sex? It's hard to tell because it seems so lacking in direction at times. And the pacing at the end of the film is too slow.

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

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