TCM TiVo ALERT
December 1–December 7
DAVID’S BEST BETS:
TRILOGY OF FAITH (December 3, 1:30 am): To me, there is no greater or more important film director than Ingmar Bergman. TCM is showing six of his films on December 3, starting with Smiles of a Summer Night at 8:00 pm, a very funny film from someone whose body of work featured few comedies. After that are Bergman's two best-known pieces, Wild Strawberries at 10:00 pm and The Seventh Seal at 11:45 pm. For those who have never seen a Bergman film, these are his most approachable and among his finest, and I would highly recommend watching them. For those who have seen those and other Bergman movies, and are looking for more, the three films that follow The Seventh Seal, know collectively as the "Trilogy of Faith," are essential viewing. It starts with Through a Glass Darkly at 1:30 am, followed by Winter Light at 3:15 am and The Silence at 4:45 am. Rather than give you a short synopsis on each of the films, I urge you to click here and read my analysis and thoughts on the three.
ROLLER BOOGIE (December 6, 2:00 am): Yeah, this 1979 film is awful, and one that's I've wanted to write a Train Wreck Cinema article about for a long time. The plot is unbelievably terrible, including the male lead wanting to be an Olympic roller skater. High-society girl Linda Blair resists at first, but eventually falls in love with him while he gives her skating lessons. Along the way, they foil a plan from mobsters who wants to buy their favorite roller-skating rink. It's laughably awful, but a film that I can never not watch when it's on. Easily the best scene is toward the beginning with the rink filled with dancers getting down to Earth, Wind & Fire's "Boogie Wonderland."
ED’S BEST BETS:
SHE DONE HIM WRONG (December 1, 9:30 pm): Mae West at her absolute peak as she adapted her Broadway hit, “Diamond Lil” into a film. Mae is Lady Lou, a saloon singer and nightclub owner in the gay ‘90s who has more men friends than she can count. Unfortunately, one of them is a jealous criminal who has escaped and is looking for his lady, not knowing she hasn’t exactly been faithful in his absence. For her part, though, Mae is more interested in seducing young Captain Cummings (Cary Grant), a local temperance league preacher. It’s filled with hilarious double entendres and ribald situations, including the song, “I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone?” This film not only rescued Paramount Studios from bankruptcy, but also spurred the formation of the Legion of Decency. Not a bad day’s work.
I’M NO ANGEL (December 1, 10:45 pm): Mae West again, and why not? This is another gem. Mae is Tira, a circus sideshow entertainer whose real talent is luring men backstage after the show and swindling them out of money and jewelry. Cary Grant is Jack Clayton, a millionaire victim of Tira’s who is the only man to win her heart. The plot makes little sense, but go with it; after all, we’re not tuning in to see an intricate plot, but to see the great Mae West in action before the bluenoses shut her down. And there’s much to see with Mae’s one-liners flying around, lines such as “It’s not the men in your life, it’s the life in your men,” and “When I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.” That’s the Mae West we want to see.
WE DISAGREE ON . . . ADVISE AND CONSENT (December 5, 8:15 am):
ED: B-. The early ‘60s saw a slew of political intrigue and conspiracy movies: The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, Gore Vidal’s The Best Man,Fail-Safe, and Dr. Strangelove. Compared with these heavyweights, this is one of the weaker movies of the bunch. Now I’m not saying this is a bad movie; it’s not. It boasts an excellent cast and a good script. However, the one failing is the direction by Otto Preminger, which tends to be stilted at times. Also, in comparison to The Best Man, which covers much of the same territory, it pales in comparison. Hence the grade.
DAVID: A-. This 1962 film about the confirmation process of a secretary of state nominee (Henry Fonda) was ahead of its time. Having the president (Franchot Tone) dying while the proceedings are occurring is overdramatic, but the storyline rings true with politics of later years that saw and still see numerous presidential nominees have their entire lives scrutinized just for the sake of partisanship and not for the betterment of the country. The cut-throat style of politics shown in this film is about as authentic as it gets. It relies a lot on dialogue, but the script is so good that it elevates the quality of the film. Add the excellent all-star cast – Fonda, Lew Ayres, Charles Laughton, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford and Burgess Meredith (in a small but memorable role) – and great directing by Otto Preminger, who makes the viewer feel like a Washington insider, and you get a film that's interesting, intelligent and compelling.
For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.