A SPACE ODYSSEY (March
20, 5:30 am): It's one of the most visually-stunning and fascinating
films every made. 2001:
A Space Odyssey is
the story of man from pre-evolution to a trip to Jupiter, and how
superior beings on that mysterious planet made it all possible. The
storyline is fascinating and the ending is very much open to
interpretation, which makes the film even more compelling. The
interaction between astronaut David Bowman (Keir Dullea) and the HAL
9000 computer that controls the spaceship and has a mind of its own
reflects how mankind has experienced gains and losses through the use
of advanced technology. The cinematography, special effects and
music take this film to a special level.
21, 5:30 am): The movie that made Edward G. Robinson a legitimate
movie star. Warners set the standard for its gritty, engaging,
violent, tense-filled gangster films in 1931 with the release
of Little Caesar on
January 9 and Public
Enemy with James
Cagney on April 23. Both are among my favorite films. In Little
Caesar, Eddie G. plays
Caesar Enrico "Rico" Bandello, a small-time hood who does
everything possible to become a mob boss in Chicago. Robinson's
portrayal of Rico, also called Little Caesar, is among the most
authentic in cinematic history. His ability to get into character,
playing someone that cold-blooded, ruthless and single-minded without
a concern about anything or anyone else is impressive. The ending is
a classic with Rico gunned down in the gutter saying with surprise,
"Mother of mercy! Is this the end of Rico?"
BAND WAGON(March 16,
1:10 pm): In my estimation, this is the greatest musical ever to come
out of Hollywood. Fred Astaire has never been better than he is here
playing a faded Hollywood musical star lured out of retirement to
star in a stage musical based on Faust, of all things. He has
tremendous support from the lovely Cyd Charisse, Nanette Fabray,
English song-and-dance man Jack Buchanan, and Oscar Levant, who,
although playing Oscar Levant as in every other film, has never done
it better than this. There are lots of great numbers topped off by
Astaire and Charisse in “Girl Hunt,” a mystery set in swingtime.
Fabulous. It really doesn’t get any better than this.
TOM (March 20, 10:00 pm): Michael Powell almost lost
his career in the uproar that followed the release of this
controversial film about a serial photographer who captures his
victims with his camera at their moment of death. He also documents
the police investigation that follows each killing, and finally, his
own suicide. We later learn that the killer’s father (played by
Powell) was a psychologist who used his own son as a guinea pig in
experiments exploring the nature of fear. The original print was
heavily edited upon its 1960 release, but later restored by none
other than Martin Scorsese. Don’t miss it.
AGREE ON ...
GASLIGHT (March 22, 11:30 am)
A-. It’s rare when a remake matches or outdoes the
original, but in this case I would say it comes mighty close. The
1940 original, based on a smash hit melodrama from the London
stage Angel Street, is far better at exposing the
cruelties of the English class system, but MGM compensated for this
lacking with a lush production and first-class Hollywood stars,
including Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. It is also
the film in which Angela Lansbury made her mark as a star in her film
debut. I would agree with critic Leonard Maltin that “the bloom has
worn off the rose,” but it’s still fun to watch as Boyer tries to
drive Bergman out of her skin. Note: When MGM released the film in
1944, the studio tried to buy up all prints of the English original
to destroy them (and some out there still think film is art).
Fortunately, some prints survived and began turning up in the ‘50s
under the production’s stage name.
A-. As a huge fan
of Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman, it's great to see that when the
two teamed together in this 1944 film that the result was
spectacular. (Unfortunately, the chemistry between the two wasn't
nearly as good when they worked together on Alfred Hitchcock's Under
years later.) Gaslight has
fantastic pacing, starting slowly planting the seeds of Bergman's
potential insanity and building to a mad frenzy with Cotten's
Scotland Yard inspector saving the day and Bergman gaining revenge.
While Charles Boyer has never been a favorite of mine, he is
excellent in this role as Bergman's scheming husband who is slowly
driving her crazy. Also deserving of praise is Angela Lansbury in her
film debut as the couple's maid. Lansbury has the hots for Boyer
and nothing but disdain for Bergman. A well-acted, well-directed film
that is one I always enjoy viewing no matter how many times I
see it. For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.