TCM TiVo ALERT
October 8-October 14
DAVID’S BEST BETS:
PATHS OF GLORY (October 8, 2:30 pm): This is a splendid film on the insanity of military protocol that can occur during a war. In this case, it's a suicide mission during World War I that becomes a disaster. Finally, the French soldiers involved in the fight to take a well-defended German position refuse to continue after heavy casualties and no success. But rather than blame those making the ill-fated decision, it falls on three soldiers arbitrarily picked to be court-martialed on charges of cowardice. The original plan was to court-martial 100 men. Kirk Douglas is, as always, incredible playing Colonel Dax, the regiment's commander who acts as the military lawyer for the three who never have a chance. And it's another fine directorial effort by the legendary Stanley Kubrick. The scene in the trenches that has General Mireau (George Macready in a memorable performance) getting the soldiers ready for the attack by asking them, "Ready to kill more Germans?" leaves the viewer as shell-shocked as the men.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS (October 9, 10:00 am): It's always challenging to adapt a classic book into a movie, and this 1939 film uses less than half of Emily Bronte's 34 chapters (eliminating the second generation of characters) in the book. But it's still a stunning film directed by one of the true masters, William Wyler. Laurence Olivier gives an unforgettable performance as Heathcliff, showing a wide range of emotions in a complicated role. Heathcliff is bitter, vengeful, conflicted and passionately in love. I doubt anyone else could do justice to the role. Merle Oberon as Cathy is also wonderful as are many members of the cast including David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Hugh Williams.
ED’S BEST BETS:
THE UNKNOWN (October 8, 6:30 am): When Lon Chaney and Tod Browning teamed up they made some of the best and most unusual films of Chaney’s career. The Unknown may just be the weirdest of the lot. Chaney is “Alonzo the Armless Wonder,” an armless knife thrower who uses his feet to throw the knives. In actually, he’s a criminal on the run and only pretends to be armless, being strapped into a straitjacket type of restraint before each performance. The love of his life is his assistant, Nanon (Joan Crawford). They could be together if not for her abnormal fear of having a man’s arms around her. Chaney is so besotted that he has his arms amputated for real to prove his love to her. But after he returns from the operation he finds her in the arms of Malabar the strongman (Norman Kerry), who has cured her of this fear. It’s right out of Grand Guignol and remains one of the creepiest movies ever made.
HAUSU (October 9, 2:00 am): One of the most unusual films ever to come from Japan, Hausu can best be described as a teens-meet-demon-killers-in-a-haunted-house movie filmed as a surreal fairy tale and decked out in bright candy colors. The girls, who have names such as Gorgeous, Melody, Prof, Fantasy, Kung Fu, Sweet, and Mac, go with Gorgeous to meet her benign spinster aunt. But once they arrive, they discover that nothing is as it seems and the girls disappear one by one until the horrible secret is revealed. When I first saw this I had to see it again because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. You may have the same experience. It’s part Mario Bava and part Looney Tunes. At any rate, it’s one helluva ride.
WE DISAGREE ON ... SHAMPOO (October 13, 10:00 pm)
ED: B. Shampoo is a clever and funny satire about a hairdresser, played by Warren Beatty, who can’t keep it in his pants and uses his paramours to advance his goal of owning his own parlor. But although I like it well enough, it just doesn’t quite work. It’s rather ambitious goal is not backed by the timing of it message and it’s not a funny as it should have been in its funny places, such as when Lester (Jack Warden), who should know better – Beatty’s George is having sex with both his wife (Lee Grant) and daughter (Carrie Fisher) on the not too hidden side – speculates that George is gay. The satire is not as sharp as it should be, especially when comparing the nation’s woes to George’s in Beverly Hills, and I often had the feeling that the movie is simply providing the audience with a slew of obligatory scenes rather than trying to give us discoveries about the film’s characters, as a true satire should do. It’s amusing, it’s funny in spots and it’s a good time waster, but there’s nothing ground breaking or poignant about it. Thus my grade.
DAVID: A. Besides The Parallax View, this is my favorite Warren Beatty film – and he made a lot of excellent films. Beatty is a Beverly Hills hairdresser who cuts the hair, and has sex with, a laundry list of beautiful women. His dream is to open his own hair salon, but his libido gets in the way. For the longest time, the film is very funny. But the ending is almost Ingmar Bergman sad with Beatty's character, George, losing everything including his dream because of his lack of discipline and business sense while still having to go on living a life that seemed so perfect earlier in the day. (The film takes place in one day.) You'd be hard-pressed to find a better supporting cast. Lee Grant (who won an Oscar for her performance) and Jack Warden (nominated for one) work exceptionally well together as a married couple with Beatty bedding Grant, and anything else that moves (including Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn), while trying to get Warden's character to provide the money for his elusive hair salon.
For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.