Wednesday, April 13, 2016

TCM TiVo Alert for April 15-22

April 15–April 22


MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (April 17, 8:00 pm): This is, by far, the best version of this classic tale to hit the big screen. With outstanding performances from Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh and Clark Gable as Lieutenant Fletcher Christian, it tells a story, though not a historically accurate one, of, well, uh, a mutiny on the HMS Bounty caused by the sadistic actions of Bligh toward the crew. This 1935 film is well-acted with wonderful scenery and cinematography, and an excellent story.

NONE BUT THE LONELY HEART (April 18, 8:00 pm) While I'm not a big fan of Cary Grant's comedies, I'm greatly impressed with his dramatic roles. He's so good as a Cockney drifter in None But the Lonely Heart that I look at this 1944 film as the precursor to the classic British "kitchen-sink" films of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Those films focused on angry young men living directionless lives in post-World War II England. This film takes place in post-World War I England. Equally excellent is the legendary Ethel Barrymore as his dying mother. In addition to the amazing performances from Grant and Barrymore, the storyline is compelling, well-paced and really depressing. The movie lost money for RKO, which unfortunately meant Grant would never take on a similar role as the one in this film despite his groundbreaking performance.


MINISTRY OF FEAR (April 17, 10:15 am): Fritz Lang, along with Alfred Hitchcock, was a master of the espionage thriller. And this film is a prime example of what Lang could do when given the right source material (Graham Greene’s novel of the same name), the right screenplay (by Seton I. Miller), and the right cast, led by a superb Ray Milland. And yet, Lang thought the film was not up to par; he didn’t like the finished product. Well, Herr Lang, I did – I loved it. Milland is superb as a recently released mental patient, sent there after being wrongly convicted of killing his wife. He gets caught up in a web of espionage, and we begin to wonder if the mad house is the asylum or what passes for the real world outside the asylum’s walls. It’s a film that pulls us in, whether we want to enter or not, and one which builds to a great finish, Lang style. Lang rarely lets me down.

PEPE LE MOKO (April 17, 3:30 am): Jean Gabin is absolutely captivating as a gangster who eludes capture in the Casbah section of Algiers until his love for a beautiful woman lures him out to his capture. The role of LeMoko brought Gabin into international prominence. Beautifully photographed and exquisitely directed by Julien Duvivier. Not released until 1941 in America due to the fact that Walter Wanger remade it as Algiers. Only after its run was the original allowed to be screened in the States. Given the choice between the original and the remake, opt for the original. It’s a far better film.


ED: BThe Year of Living Dangerously amazingly manages to recreate the Indonesia of the mid-1960s, a time when the Sukarno regime was toppling and the war in Vietnam was just getting hot. It revolves around the life of a foreign correspondent, played by Mel Gibson, who has just arrived in Jakarta and who thrives in dangerous locales. In mood it strikes a similar tone to Grahame Greene’s The Quiet American, but the direction and one special performance set it apart. The direction by Peter Weir is phenomenal, immersing us immediately in the action a we get to know the main players in the drama. The standout performance was by Linda Hunt, playing a Eurasian man named Billy Kwan. Billy haunts the peripheries of polite society and functions as a photographer who becomes invaluable to Gibson’s character by knowing Who’s Who and what plays well in the media. He and Gibson’s character, Guy Hamilton, become friends and Billy introduces Guy to the third player in the triangle, British attache Jill Bryant (Sigourney Weaver), with whom Hamilton becomes romantically involved, to the detriment of Billy, who increasingly feels pushed aside. The film is worth catching for the performance of Hunt as Kwan, a performance for which she justly earned an Oscar. It is one of the most remarkable performances in film history and makes the film a Must See for cinephiles.

DAVID: C-. It took me three tries before I could get through this film. My struggle, in part, is that this film is nearly two hours, and it failed to keep my interest for that length of time. My biggest problem is the sound mixing is about the worst I've experienced for a mainstream movie. The accents of many of the charters are far too thick for me to understand, and it's not exactly like the storyline of the 1965 overthrow of President Sukamo in Indochina – with the war in Vietnam as a backdrop – is easy to follow. I found it nearly impossible to keep track of who was who, which is a big problem trying to follow a complex story. What made it almost maddening for me is this followed two breakout performances by Mel Gibson, who plays a new foreign correspondent from Australia here, in Gallipoli (directed by Peter Weir who also directed Living Dangerously) and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. His character in this film is not as interesting as his previous roles. Gibson was capable of a much stronger performance and Weir, who's made some excellent films, also could have done significantly better. I can't disagree with Ed's assessment of Linda Hunt's performance though I had a difficult time understanding her as well. Sigourney Weaver's talents are largely wasted in this movie as she is definitely the third lead.

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

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