Tuesday, July 21, 2015

TCM TiVo Alert for July 23-31

July 23–July 31


BEWARE, MY LOVELY (July 24, 9:30 am): Robert Ryan's character is a dangerous psychopath who has a bad habit – he kills people, blacking out and forgetting the evil deeds he's done. And Ida Lupino's character, who becomes his love interest, seems to be the last person in the world who realizes Ryan's rugged handyman has her at the top of the list of who he next wants to kill. It's a compelling and tense-filled drama with outstanding performances by the two leads. Both are seasoned film veterans who are able to take an average script and convince the audience that their characters are legitimate. This 1952 thriller isn't going to take your breath away, but it's a good 77-minute distraction. It sucks the viewer in as we squirm in our seats hoping Lupino finds a way to get away from Ryan's character who we fear. But we also pity him to a certain extent because his mental illness makes it impossible for him to control his actions.

12 ANGRY MEN (July 26, 6:15 pm): This is a movie that really stays with you for its quality, intensity and the outstanding performances by an all-star cast that includes Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, E.G. Marshall and Jack Klugman. The film takes place almost entirely inside a hot jury room that gets even hotter as the debate over the guilt or innocence of the man on trial escalates. Director Sidney Lumet and the cast make the viewer feel like he/she is a voyeur sitting in the room with the jurors. It's one of the greatest courtroom dramas made, quite a feat for a movie that skips over the case and gets right to the jury deliberations. 


ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS (July 24, 3:30 am): Director Louis Malle made many a fine film, but none better than this 1958 effort about a woman and her ex-paratrooper lover who plot to kill her husband in the “perfect crime.” It’s a dark, stylish noir thriller that owes much to the influence of Hitchcock and Melville. (In fact, Hitchcock himself greatly admired the film.) Of course, things do go wrong, but they go so deliciously wrong as to keep us totally enthralled. What really makes the film is the strong, sensuous performance of star Jeanne Moreau. Malle later claimed to have discovered her, but Moreau was already a star of the stage and a veteran of B-movies before she met Malle. But this was the film that made Moreau a star. Photographed by none other than Henri Decae, it contains some breathtaking shots of Moreau and Paris at night. For those who haven’t yet seen it, it’s a definite “Must See.” And for those who have seen it, it still rates a revisit.

SVENGALI (July 27, 7:15 am): John Barrymore was in his prime when he played the title character, a demented maestro whose telepathic hypnotic powers transform beautiful model Trilby O’Farrell (Marian Marsh) into a great singer. Marsh is totally captivating, but this is Barrymore’s film and he doesn’t let us forget that for one minute, giving a powerful, yet restrained performance. Amazingly, this performance may have been due to an illness Barrymore suffered before filming. According to biographer Margot Peters (The House of Barrymore), he was suffering from an ulcer that caused severe gastric hemorrhaging. Because of that he was reduced to a diet of bland food and total abstinence from alcohol. The film was also helped by the bizarre sets from art director Anton Grot and the crisp black-and-white cinematography of Barney McGill. While both were nominated for Academy Awards, surprisingly, Barrymore was not, probably because most Academy members consider it to be just a horror picture, and they usually were overlooked when it came to nominations. By all means, see it, as it is a rewarding experience.

WE DISAGREE ON ... JEWEL ROBBERY (July 29, 6:00 am)

ED: B. Jewel Robbery is a very slight but amusing film highlighted by a great adult storyline and the use of reefers by jewel thief Powell to make his victims docile and cooperative. Powell is in fine form as the thief and Kay Francis is the bored rich Viennese woman who becomes enchanted by Powell. Made in the same basic style as Trouble in Paradise and One Way Passage, it pales in comparison precisely because it isn’t as lively as the other two. If you watch this and have not yet seen the other two films, it comes across as an “A.” But once you’ve seen the other two, the film quickly drops to a “B” in comparison. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine and intriguing film, but it just isn’t up to the others.

DAVID: A. I didn't realize we were going to end up debating three films from 1932. But Ed mentioned Jewel Robbery – which stars William Powell as a debonair jewel thief and Kay Francis as a bored baroness who falls for him – as being inferior to Trouble in Paradise and One Way Passage. A few words about the latter two: Trouble in Paradise (featuring Francis) is an excellent film, and on par with Jewel Robbery. I can't say the same for One Way Passage (which stars Powell and Francis) as I find it to be decent, but nothing memorable. Jewel Robbery is a sexy, erotic Pre-Code film with Powell essentially charming the pants off of Francis. Powell's character has his victims smoke joints to sedate them. He is sophisticated, suave and clever. In other words, he's William Powell. The Baroness is one of his victims, but she is turned on by it. The married baroness is looking for adventure and an adventurous man rather than her dull, wealthy husband. The dialogue is funny, filled with double entendres, and the two leads work very well together. Among my favorite exchanges is a quick one with the Baroness saying, "Show me your jewels." Powell: "Of course." The film moves at a fast pace, and is a great way to spend 68 minutes.

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

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