Monday, March 13, 2017

TCM TiVo Alert for March 15-22

March 15–March 22


2001: 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. 

LITTLE CAESAR (March 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?"


THE 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.

PEEPING 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.

WE AGREE ON ... GASLIGHT (March 22, 11:30 am)

ED: 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.

DAVID: 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 Capricorn five 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.

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