Saturday, June 7, 2014

TCM TiVo Alert for June 8-14

June 8–June 14


OUT OF THE FOG (June 12, 10:45 am): This 1941 movie shows how great John Garfield was as an actor. He plays Harold Goff, a sadistic low-level mobster/thug, with such conviction. There is zero to like about the character. He's ruthless, incredibly cruel and preys on old fisherman for protection money when the only thing from which they need protection is Goff. To top it off, he falls for the daughter (Ida Lupino) of one of the fishermen he is terrorizing, and uses information he learns from her to do more evil. Despite all that, you can't stop watching Garfield play this character. It's not only one of his finest performances, but it's one of film's best. Warner Brothers made their money on gritty film noirs. This is among the best with a great ending.

THIRTEEN WOMEN (June 13, 11:15 am): On loan to RKO from MGM, Myrna Loy shines as a spiteful Eurasian who exacts revenge on her former schoolmates, who ignored her in college because of her mixed race. For being snubbed, she has the women kill themselves or each other. Imagine if they did worse things. It's poorly edited with some characters cut so Myrna only seeks revenge on 11 women, but she is so hot on the screen, they could have called it 113 Women and few would have counted. Despite some flaws, it's an entertaining and quality picture, produced by David O. Selznick, and Myrna shows a lot of promise as an actress. It's a sign of things to come in future movies with better scripts and bigger budgets for this incredibly talented and beautiful actress. In 1933, only a year after Thirteen Women, she would shine in The Prize Fighter and the Lady, and never look back. One note about Thirteen Women, one of them was played by Peg Entwistle, who jumped to her death, shortly before this film's release, from the H on the iconic Hollywoodland sign (it's since dropped the "land" part). It was a huge tabloid story at the time, and this film is her only credited role.


BLACK ORPHEUS  (June 8, 2:00 am): a beautifully lyrical updating of the Orpheus and Eurydice legend set during Brazil’s carnival as streetcar conductor Orfeo (Bruno Mello) meets, loses, finds, and finally loses his Eurydice, country girl Mira (Marpessa Dawn). Wonderfully acted, directed and scored, this is the ultimate eye candy, with vivid images of Carnival drawing us in to the proceedings, a testament to the power of film to entrance and entertain. The soundtrack, with is mixture of samba and bossa nova, was a bestselling album and it’s easy to understand why. This is a film that cries out to be seen. It’s one of my Essentials.

NIGHT NURSE (June 11, 6:00 am): What is it about Barbara Stanwyck Pre-Codies that so intrigues me? She’s great as a nurse who discovers that an alcoholic mother and her chauffeur lover are starving her two children to death by for the inheritance. This is a sordid, well-paced story directed by studio regular William Wellman full of double entendre remarks and plenty of shots of Stanwyck and co-star Joan Blondell running around in their underwear. Clark Gable makes an impression as the evil chauffeur and his scenes with Stanwyck retain their ability to shock even today.


ED: B. Few directors made better Westerns than Sam Peckinpah. And he deserved far better than what MGM did to him by taking a pair of scissors to the film and ruining it. Sam has since been vindicated with the release of the director’s cut on video, but I don’t think TCM is running this version. Nevertheless, we can still see the themes that Peckinpah was emphasizing, such as the loss of innocence, the coming of corruption, which seems to have caught everyone in its sticky fibers, and what becomes of myth once the truth has set in. I’m not expecting the director’s cut, but I do so hope this version has the magnificent scene in which Slim Pickens, mortally wounded, stumbles to a riverside so that he can die peacefully. This is not only one of the most beautiful scenes in a Western, but in film, period. James Coburn gives one of his best performances as Pat Garrett and Kris Kristofferson is not bad as the Kid. Add a decent score by Bob Dylan, and the film, while no masterpiece, is certainly worth an evening on the couch.

DAVID: D+. Based on Ed's argument, we must have watched different films with the same title and the same actors in the same roles. He sees deep thoughtful themes, one of cinema's most beautiful scenes and James Coburn giving one of his best performances. I see a dull, lifeless, predictable film with poor acting (particularly from Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan) and a mediocre performance from Coburn, of whom I'm a huge fan. And besides "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," the soundtrack is painfully bad, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger fan than me of Dylan's music. I'm at a loss as to how you can take a Western directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Coburn with a storyline about Pat Garrett as a lawman out to kill his former friend, Billy the Kid, and make such a lousy, boring film. You would think it's impossible, but this 1973 movie is proof it can be done. It's supposed to be tragic and nostalgic – there are constant references to the main characters being outlaws and the last of a dying breed. Instead, we get an annoying film that had me talking to it urging Garrett to please kill Billy so it would finally end. The version TCM shows isn't the director's cut or the theatrical release; It is a "special edition" of the film that is nine minutes longer than the theatrical release and seven minutes shorter than Peckinpah's cut. No matter how it's cut, it's an awful movie.
For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.

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