Monday, November 21, 2016

TCM TiVo Alert for November 23-30

November 23–November 30


THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER (November 24, 12:00 pm): Warner Brothers wasn't known for making excellent comedies in the 1930s and 40s, and Bette Davis didn't become famous for her comedic skills. However, this 1942 screwball comedy is the exception to the rule. Davis is delightful and funny as Maggie Cutler, secretary to Monty Woolley's character. Woolley's Sheridan Whiteside is an arrogant, acerbic lecturer and critic who slips on the front steps of the house of an Ohio family, injuring himself in the process. Since he's going to be laid up for a while, Whiteside thinks nothing of completely takes over the house, leading to some funny and madcap moments. Woolley, who reprised the role he first made famous on Broadway, is the best part of the movie. Davis is great and showed legitimate promise as a comedic actress. 

CROSSFIRE (November 28, 4:30 pm): Robert Ryan was a tremendous actor and this is my favorite film to feature him. This 1947 film noir that deals with anti-Semitism is considered the first B movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The film stars the great Robert Mitchum with Robert Young outstanding as a police detective. But it is Ryan's powerful portrayal of a white supremacist/anti-Semite GI who kills a Jewish guy he and his buddies meet at a bar who steals the movie. 


TOP HAT (November 25, 6:00 pm): Not only is this film the best of the Astaire-Rogers pairings, but it’s also one of the greatest musicals – if not the greatest – ever to come from Hollywood. Everything goes off perfectly in this movie: the score by none other than Irving Berlin, the dance numbers (especially “Top Hat,” and “Cheek to Cheek”), and even Fred’s pursuit of Ginger is fresh and funny. It’s the old formula – Fred meets Ginger, Fred loses Ginger, Fred gets Ginger – but in this film it has not yet run its course. Add to this a supporting cast featuring the always-reliable Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore, plus dependable Helen Broderick and Eric Rhodes, and the result is an engaging and charming 90 minutes. Look for Lucille Ball in an unbilled role as a flower clerk.

UMBERTO D (November 26, 2:00 am): Director Vittorio DeSica was known for his realistic portrayals of life in Postwar Italy. Next to The Bicycle Thieves, this is his most important  and best  film from that time. It takes a long, hard look at the problems of the unwanted elderly, the protagonist being a retired professor of linguistics at Bologna who can no longer survive on his meager pension. Thrown out of his apartment for back rent, he wanders the streets with his faithful terrier, Flike, Be warned, this is the saddest owner and pet drama since Old Yeller, and I'm not kidding when I say that this is a five-hankie picture. The film was instrumental in helping to reform the Italian pension system into something more humane. Critically lauded in the '50s, it's almost forgotten today, much like it's protagonist.

WE DISAGREE ON ... SANS SOLEIL (November 30, 2:30 am):

ED: B+Sans Soleil is an interesting film. It’s full of documentary images, yet it really can’t be called a documentary in the strict sense of the word. It’s more of a personal meditation on the nature of human memory: the inability to recall context and nuances, and how the resulting perception of personal and global histories is affected. Director Chris Marker films most of it in Japan and Guinea-Bissau, two countries with wildly divergent cultures. The scenes in Japan are compelling, especially the temple devoted to cats, and it’s a sort of travelogue through the memory. The best way to enjoy it is surrender to it from the beginning. Instead of stopping to analyze what is being seen, as we usually do with a film, we should let it soak in, and at the end review our impressions. Not everyone is going to like this, as it does come off a bit pretentious at times. But it is a whole lot better than sitting through the dull monotony of an Antonioni, Pasolini, or the later Godard. But see it at least once. You’ll find yourself running the images through your mind of days.

DAVID: C. Honestly, I don't know what's going on in this film. It's not compelling or even well made, and comes across as a random, mixed-up collection of film clips with no direction. Most importantly, it is neither interesting nor fascinating. Like Ed, I found it somewhat pretentious, but not over the top. Sans Soleil is a confusing collage of images at various locations throughout the world. If there was something that legitimately tied it all together, it could have worked. Just because there's a narrator talking about a supposed world traveler and discussing his adventures doesn't mean it's a cohesive story. It most definitely isn't. But I've seen a lot worse.

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

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