TCM TiVo ALERT
June 15–June 22
DAVID’S BEST BETS:
LIVE A LITTLE, LOVE A LITTLE (June 15, 11:45 am): An unusual but entertaining Elvis Presley film, and among his last non-concert movies. Elvis is Greg Nolan, a newspaper photographer who loses his job after being drugged and kept captive by Bernice, a quirky, sexy girl who lives at the beach. In need of employment, he finds two in the same building. He shoots photos for both a conservative firm and a girlie magazine, and tries to balance that with Bernice, who goes by different names depending on the guy. It's not a terribly deep film, but it was an interesting change of pace for Elvis at the tail end of his career as a movie star. The best scene has Elvis singing "A Little Less Conversation," one of my personal favorites.
THE ODD COUPLE (June 15, 8:00 pm): This is an excellent film though not as great as the television series primarily because the show is one of the five best TV programs of all time. The film, released in 1968, about two years before the TV show, follows the familiar storyline of divorced sportswriter Oscar Madison (Walter Matthau) allowing longtime friend, Felix Unger (Jack Lemmon), a photographer recently separated from his wife, to move in with him. Oscar is a slob and Felix is a neurotic neat-freak. The interaction between Matthau and Lemmon, which is so good in many films, is outstanding here, second to only to 1966's The Fortune Cookie. The first season of the TV show is largely taken from the film, including a number of failed attempts by Oscar to have a good time with the Pigeon Sisters because of Felix's longing for his wife.
ED’S BEST BETS:
PICTURE SNATCHER (June 15, 4:30 pm): This is a neat little B-thriller that stands out today as one of the first procedural police dramas from Hollywood. Starring Ricardo Montalban as a Cape Cod detective and Bruce Bennett as a Harvard professor, it follows the discovery of the remains of a murdered B-girl on a Cape Cod beach straight through to the arrest of her killer. It’s an early exercise in forensic science as they trace the clues step-by-step, interview witnesses, and even overcome class prejudice to finally lead them to the murderer. It’s intelligent, well written and expertly acted. Look for Elsa Lanchester as an eccentric landlady.
SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER (June 21, 5:00 am): In only his second feature, Francois Truffaut hits another home run with this story of a former concert pianist (Charles Aznavour) whose fame is past and now plays in a rundown cafe. His girlfriend, Lena (Marie Dubois) wants him to get back to his former career, but instead Aznavour becomes mixed up with gangsters, which ultimately leads to murder. Jean-Luc Godard may have dedicated Breathless to Monogram Studios, but it was Truffaut, with this film, who made the picture in true Monogram style.
WE DISAGREE ON ... FIVE EASY PIECES (June 21, 3:15 am):
ED: B. It’s been hailed as the ultimate counter-culture picture. But at essence it’s a portrait of a man who refuses to take responsibility for his life; who thinks that by constantly running away he can ditch all his problems. What he will never realize – at least from what we see in the ending – is that the problem is him. The film would have us blame it all on his dysfunctional family, headed by an inscrutable tyrant who, we get the feeling, pushed his children into being musicians. More dollar book Freud. My only surprise is that Nicholson’s character didn’t have a Rosebud sled. Again, it’s the performances that make this film watchable, especially Karen Black as Nicholson’s girlfriend Rayette. However, like The Last Detail, the film hasn’t aged well, wearing its early ‘70s heritage on its sleeve.
DAVID: C. The coincidence that we disagree on two Jack Nicholson film two weeks in a row isn't lost on me. I like The Last Detail significantly more than Ed. Ed gives this film a higher grade than I do, and his insights are pretty accurate. I find Five Easy Pieces to be somewhat dull with the iconic restaurant scene the only memorable part of the movie. As I mentioned last week, this 1970 film was released when Nicholson was among the three best actors in the film industry. There's no doubt that in his first starring role, Nicholson is excellent, but the plot is a classic case of cinematic pop psychology without any real depth to the characters. Fed up with his controlling father, Nicholson's character has abandoned his wealthy family to be a working-class Joe who cheats on his waitress girlfriend. The two worlds collide when he visits his family because his father is dying. Without Nicholson, the film would likely rate a D.
For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.