Thursday, January 12, 2017

TCM TiVo Alert for January 15-22

January 15–January 22


JAILHOUSE ROCK (January 17, 8:00 pm): This 1957 film is easily one of Elvis' best. He’s in prison on a manslaughter conviction. His cellmate, a former country-and-western singer played by Mickey Shaughnessy, recognizes Vince Everett (Presley) has musical talent after hearing him sing, and serves as a mentor. When Everett is released after 20 months in prison, he looks for work as a singer. He becomes a success thanks to a producer and his love interest, played by Judy Tyler (she and her husband died shortly after the film wrapped up production). Presley does a solid job, showing that with the right material, he was a good actor. Unfortunately, roles like this rarely came along for Elvis. The film is critical of the music industry with Vince, tired of getting ripped off, creates his own record label with Judy. The film's highlight is the iconic “Jailhouse Rock” performance Everett does for a television special.

BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (January 21, 1:15 am): The last American film directed by Fritz Lang is an excellent one with Dana Andrews convinced by his newspaper publisher father-in-law to plant clues implicating himself in the murder of a woman. The plan is to prove the weakness of circumstantial evidence and make a fool out of the local district attorney. The problem is the plan works and Andrews' father-in-law is killed in a car crash with the evidence of Andrews' innocence burned to a crisp. This leaves Andrews on death row and heading for the chair. The concept and subsequent plot twists are fascinating and riveting, and the film's conclusion is outstanding and brilliantly executed (pun intended).


ALL ABOUT EVE (January 15, 3:30 pm): One of the great films about the theater with knockout performances from leads Bette Davis, Gary Merrill, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm and George Sanders. Sander won the Best Supporting Actor award for his role. Sophisticated and cynical with a brilliant script by director Joseph L. Mankiewicz based on the short story “The Wisdom of Eve” by Mary Orr. Life ended up imitating art when Baxter pulled strings to be nominated for Best Actress in addition to Davis. If she had stayed in the category of Best Supporting, it is likely both she and Davis would have taken home statuettes. Its one of those films that can be watched again and again with no lessening of enjoyment.

THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (January 13, 10:00 pm): Jacques Demy directed this unusual musical, in which every line is sung, sort of like the latest incarnation of Les Miserables. But unlike that movie, Umbrellas isn’t nearly as annoying. The singing voices of the actors are wonderfully dubbed. It stars Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo as star-crossed lovers separated when he has to go off to fight in Algeria for the French Army. As they pledged their love until their death, the circumstances make for a good test of the pledge. Demy makes what could easily become a maudlin unintentional parody of the Hollywood musical into a bittersweet, poetic slice of romantic life. Though it’s set in the French town of Cherbourg (in Normandy), it has the look of a Hollywood studio musical, thanks to the good townspeople allowing Demy to paint their houses in loud, bright colors. It’s a fragile line for Demy to traipse, but he pulls it off with panache, and stay tuned for the final, moving scene in the snow.

WE AGREE ON ... LARCENY, INC. (January 19, midnight)

ED: B+. Warners is a studio not known for its great comedies, so when a funny one crops up we pay attention. And this is a film with our attention. Edward G. Robinson stars in this brisk comedy as convict J. Chalmers “Pressure” Maxwell. He’s currently in prison but is about to be released. While in stir, his fellow inmate Leo (Anthony Quinn) came up with a unique proposal to rob a bank. Pressure, however, isn’t interested. He intends to go straight, move to Florida and open a dog track. The problem is that takes money and money is the one thing Pressure doesn't have. Nor can he get it. Banks won’t make loans without collateral. Along with his boys (Broderick Crawford and Edward Brophy), he raises enough scratch to buy a failing luggage store next to the bank. His plan is to tunnel in through his basement to the banks vault and help himself. It’s the perfect set-up: customers never appear and the street outside seems to be in a permanent state of disrepair. Suddenly, though, everything begins going right for Pressure. Customers suddenly appear. The other store owners make him president of their committee. A letter he writes on their behalf to the city about the disrepair street gets action. And worst of all, once Leo gets wind of Pressure’s plan, he breaks out of jail to get his share. Robinson is the show here in another send-up of his gangster roles. Aided by Crawford and the vastly underrated Brophy, he keeps the action moving. With Jane Wyman in a good turn as his adopted daughter and Jack Carson as an eager salesman, it’s one to catch.

DAVID: B+. No one played Edward G. Robinson's mobster character for laughs better than Eddie G. himself. In this 1942 film, his character, J. Chalmers "Pressure" Maxwell gets out of prison with plans to go straight. His dream of opening a dog racing track in Florida is thwarted when he's unable to get the financing because of his gangster background. But Pressure has enough money to buy a failing luggage store next to the bank that rejected his loan request. With the help of a couple of dim-witted buddies, Jug Martin (Broderick Crawford) and Weepy Davis (Edward Brophy) – great criminal flunky names! – they start digging underground to get to the bank's safe. One of the funniest scenes has them breaking a utility line and oil comes pouring out of the hole with Jug and Weepy, covered in the stuff, thinking they struck a gusher. While the luggage store is just a cover for their criminal plans, it becomes very successful. Eddie G.'s charisma and comedic skills shine in this funny and endearing movie.

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

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