Sunday, June 7, 2015

TCM TiVo Alert for June 8-14

June 8–June 14


GOING IN STYLE (June 9, 8:00 pm): For a movie about a bank heist, this is sweet and sentimental working largely because of the acting and chemistry of the three leads: George Burns, Art Carney and Lee Strasberg. I first saw this 1979 movie on a flight from New York City to Fort Lauderdale, and while it's been a few years, I've seen it a number of times. The three are senior citizens living a very boring existence together in a Brooklyn apartment. One day, Burns suggests the three rob a bank, which breathes life into the trio. Wearing novelty glasses and large plastic noses, the three pull off the robbery though Strasberg's character dies later that day from the excitement. There are some fantastic scenes in the film, including Burns and Carney as unlikely high rollers in Las Vegas. It could easily crash and burn, but fortunately it's a fun film with some great lines and excellent acting.

VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (June 14, 6:30 pm): A very well-done and thoughtful sci-fi film. One day all the people and animals in a quaint English town become unconscious, wake up and two months later, all the women capable of having children are pregnant. In all, 12 very white-looking kids are born. The children are geniuses, are able to read minds and control others to do whatever they want, including murder and suicide. As time passes, a professor from the village (George Sanders) decides he's going to teach the mutant kids, who want to take over the world, to use their powers for good. While a nice idea, it's also poorly thought out as these children are serious about world dominance. Realizing he's not going to win, the professor plants a bomb to destroy the kids, and thinks of a brick wall in order for the children to not read his mind. Films like this can easily become cliche, ridiculous and bad, but this one is special. Sanders is fantastic as usual  and the kids are great. It's a very entertaining horror film.


GUN CRAZY (June 12, 9:45 pm): Director Joseph H. Lewis’s ahead-of-its-time noir about two lovers (Peggy Cummins and John Dall) who go on a crime spree. Low-budget specialists Frank and Maurice King, whose only caveat to director Lewis was not to go over budget, produced it. Lewis, as I‘ve noted earlier, was a specialist at saving a penny, as his career was spent in Poverty Row. It also takes a load off when one is working from a terrific script from blacklisted Dalton Trumbo (fronted by Millard Kaufman) and MacKinlay Kantor, who wrote the original story. While it was just another low-budget film here in America, over in France it was discovered by the Cahiers crowd and lionized as one of the great films from America. Such was its power that directors Truffaut, Godard, Melville, and Chabrot all stole from it. Its always great viewing and a Must See.

NIGHTMARE ALLEY (May 12, 1:15 pm): Who knew Tyrone Power could act? Well, he’s utterly magnificent in this film from director Edmund Golding as ambitious carny worker Stan Carlisle, who learns the tricks of the mentalist con from Zeena (Joan Blondell) and her alcoholic husband, Pete (Ian Keith). Having absorbed the act, Stan leaves for the big time and become a famous mind reader, engaging in a confidence game that ultimately leads to his downfall. Some critics have called it the best B-movie ever made. It is also one of the classics of film noir – and an essential.

WE DISAGREE ON ... WHITE CARGO (June 10, 5:15 am)

ED: B-. This is a hoot of a movie. Watch Hedy. Watch Hedy try to act. Try not to laugh yourself silly while watching Hedy try to act. Hey, she’s great to look at, but when she openers her mouth the mystery disappears. With her cocoa butter makeup and Pidgin English Hedy comes off like a parody of the oversexed exotic temptress in this overcooked piece of dated over-the-top misogyny. But, sad to say, she’s playing this on the level, and it was not a performance that would help establish her as a serious actress. Let’s face facts: if Monogram, Republic or PRC put this out, I’d have given it an “F.” It’s the sort of crap they would put out. But when MGM does it, it makes to a classic of Trainwreck Cinema and hence the enhanced grade. It’s always fun to watch big stars like Lamarr and Walter Pidgeon embarrass themselves in crap like this. Just watch, relax, and enjoy. It’s awful  and marvelously so at that.

DAVID: D+. I largely agree with Ed on the many shortcomings of this film, primarily the ridiculous plot and the terrible acting of Hedy Lamarr. Where we differ is he is far more forgiving of how bad this film is, giving it a B- compared to my more realistic D+. MGM tried to pass Lamarr off as Tondelayo, a half-breed African sexpot who seduces and then discards various English men who work at a rubber plantation in Africa during World War II. The acting is awful, even Walter Pidgeon, who is typically very good; the storyline is absurd; and besides Lamarr's body, there is nothing worth seeing here. This film does nothing to convince anyone that Lamarr had any talent, and she would establish that inability to act in other movies though this may be her worst role. It could have been played for laughs because believe me there is plenty to laugh at. Instead of being a satire on white men getting jungle fever, it's simply a terrible film.

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

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