Wednesday, March 30, 2016

TCM TiVo Alert for April 1-7

April 1–April 7


WINGS OF DESIRE (April 3, 2:30 am): If you love film, you will love Wings of Desire, an ingenious and moving picture from 1987. The visually-stunning film focuses on Damiel (Bruno Ganz), an angel in Berlin around the end of the Cold War. He stands on top of tall buildings, in a crowd or nearly anywhere, watching people and listening to their thoughts, many of them quite depressing. Damiel and Cassiel (Otto Sander), an another angel, can't really do anything to directly comfort people except touch someone's shoulder to give a little hope to those with troubled existences. It's beauty is in its subtlety. The acting is brilliant, particularly Ganz and of all people, Peter Falk, who plays himself. The film provides a simple, but important, lesson: It is the small things in life that make it worth living.

KEEPER OF THE FLAME (April 6, 6:15 pm): Regular readers know how much I dislike Katharine Hepburn's acting, particularly when she drags the great Spencer Tracy down in every film the two made together. That is, except one. Keeper of the Flame has Tracy as a journalist assigned to write a story about Hepburn's husband, a beloved national patriot who just died. It turns out the husband wasn't what he seemed and Hepburn tries to protect his secret. Tracy suspects Hepburn killed her husband, which isn't entirely the case. Besides the interesting plot twists, I also enjoy the interaction between Tracy and Hepburn as it doesn't fall into their familiar trap of a battle between the sexes. There's an attraction between the two, but it's secondary to the storyline.


THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (April 5, 2:00 am): Like action and plenty of it? Then look no further than this movie. It has action coming out of the spool. Here’s the gist: a team of Allied saboteurs is assigned get behind enemy lines and destroy a pair of big Nazi guns playing havoc with British attempts to rescue a small force in the Aegean Sea. A group of six, led by Gregory Peck as Capt. Mallory, takes on the task. There are the inevitable differences between the lot and two women resistance fighters join the group, one of whom is a traitor. So just sit back, turn the brain off for a couple of hours, and enjoy the doings of Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn, Anthony Qualye (who actually trained resistance fighters in World War II Albania), and for your eyes only, the beautiful Irene Papas.

A FAREWELL TO ARMS (April 7, 4:30 am): The first, and best, adaptation of Hemingway’s World War I drama about an ill-fated romance between an American soldier (Gary Cooper) and a British nurse (Helen Hayes). Even though it’s a bowdlerized version of the novel (and Hemingway hated it for that), Cooper and Hayes give marvelous performances. Also of note is Adolphe Menjou, whose jealousy keeps the lovers apart, but not for long. Sharp direction by Frank Borage with wonderful cinematography by Charles Lang. (It earned him an Oscar.)

WE AGREE ON ... SHANE (April 2, 8:00 pm)

ED: A+. It’s Jean Arthur’s final film and she goes out with a bang as beleaguered homesteader Marion Starrett, who, along with husband Joe (Van Heflin) and son Joey (Brandon DeWilde), are threatened by cattle baron Ryker (Emile Meyer). To the rescue comes the mysterious stranger, Shane (Alan Ladd), a man with a secret. It’s Ladd’s film, and he dominates it as the reclusive Shane, whose quiet presence speaks volumes, scaring off Meyer’s hired gunsels, forcing the baron to bring in notorious hired gun Jack Wilson (Jack Palance). The scenes with Ladd and Palance are wonderfully terrifying, as we know the two will have a showdown sooner or later. And when it does come, we are not disappointed in the least, but tingling with excitement. Palance is terrific as Wilson, matching Ladd line for line. But director George Stevens, ever the professional, is careful not to let Palance overshadow Ladd. This is also the sort of film we bought a color set to see back when they were still somewhat of a luxury. The locations and cinematography by Loyal Griggs are breathtaking; the very sort of film made for Cinemascope, even though Griggs was more than taken aback when the studio bumped up the negative to Cinemascope proportion. Simply put, this is a masterpiece of filmmaking.

DAVID: A+. Easily one of the greatest Westerns ever made, Shane blends a solid tense-filled storyline of homesteaders threatened by Rufus Ryker (Emile Meyer), a ruthless cattle king, with action-packed gunfights. The viewer is immediately drawn to Alan Ladd in the title role, a man with a secret past and a quick draw. He doesn't say a lot, but oozes cool and the viewer can't help but take notice of him. Ladd's portrayal of Shane elevates the film to its deserved status as a classic film. Perhaps my favorite scene is early – one of Ryker's men throws a shot of whiskey on Shane's shirt, taunting him to "smell like a man." Shane doesn't do anything until he sees the guy again at the bar. Shane orders two shots, pouring one on the guy's shirt and tossing the other in his face. That results in a brawl with Shane getting the better end of the fight. Director George Stevens does a brilliant job pacing this film as we eagerly wait for the final showdown between Shane and Ryker's hired gunman, Jack Wilson, played so extraordinarily well by Jack Palance. When it finally happens, it's definitely worth the wait. There's a lesson to be learned from the movie about the changing life in the New West, but we're not hit over the head with it. The 1953 film has a beautiful look making Wyoming seem like paradise – it won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, Color. The ending is iconic with our wounded hero riding off into the sunset with the young boy who idolizes him yelling, "Shane! Come back!"

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

No comments:

Post a Comment