open with some sad news. Jonathan Demme, who won the Best
Director Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs (1991),
died on April 26 at the age of 73.
was born Robert Jonathan Demme in Baldwin on Long Island on February
20, 1944, the son of Dorothy Louise (nee Rogers) and Robert Eugene
Demme, a public relations executive. He graduated from Southwest
Miami High School and the University of Florida.
broke into films working for Roger Corman as a writer and producer.
He made the switch to director, helming three films for Corman’s
New World company: the cult classic Caged Heat (1974), Crazy
Mama (1975) with Cloris Leachman, and Fighting
first garnered critical attention with Melvin and
Howard (1980). Other noted films include Married to
the Mob (1988), Philadelphia (1991), Toni
Morrison’s Beloved (1998), and the remake of The
Manchurian Candidate (2004).
1, TCM salutes Danielle Darrieux on her 100th birthday with
a slate of films beginning at 8 pm. We begin with The
Rage of Paris from 1938. Darrieux had signed with
Universal to try her chances in America. It’s a charming screwball
comedy with Darrieux excellent as an unemployed model out to snare
millionaire Louis Hayward. Also with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Mischa
9:30 Darrieux appears in Max Ophuls’ exquisite Le
Ronde (1950), As adaptation of Arthur
Schnitzler’s play Reigen, a story about lovers who get
together for brief encounters and afterward change partners in a
chain that brings us full circle. However, unlike the play, which
follows the spread of venereal disease among the participants, Ophuls
instead infused the movie with his own viewpoint, which is that
everybody is somebody’s fool.
was difficult for Darrieux to return to the French silver screen due
to her active collaboration with the Nazis during World War II, where
she made films for Dr. Goebbels and even sang for German soldiers.
But people forget with time and, as Darrieux was not prosecuted, this
undoubtedly helped her in her comeback.
11:15 Darrieux stars with Charles Boyer and Vittorio DeSica in The
Earrings of Madame de… (1953) one of the best
film to ever come out of France. (See my Best Bets in the May 1-7
TiVo Alert for more).
1:15 am it’s Darrieux and Kenneth More in Loss
of Innocence (aka The
1961), a drama about the the transition of a teenage girl (Susannah
York) into womanhood. Following at 3:15 am is Une
Chambre en Ville (1982),
Jacques Demy’s musical about a striking worker (Richard Berry) who
falls in love with the middle-class daughter of his landlady
(Darrieux). It’s a beautifully constructed film, with Demy moving
the musical genre into a darker region, as he counters a tragedy with
at 5 am it’s Rich,
Young and Pretty(1951)
from director Norman Taurog, a musical comedy starring Jane Powell,
as rancher Wendell Corey’s daughter who goers to Paris, where she
finds love (Vic Damone) and meets her birth mother (Darrieux). It
sounds better than it is, but Darrieux is fine.
2: A double feature of Louis Malle begins at 2 am with the
superbly dark The Fire
Within (1963). Maurice Ronet stars as Alain
Leroy, a recovering alcoholic who's drying out at an expensive rehab
clinic in Versailles with his estranged wife footing the bill. He’d
like to stay there forever, as there are no obligations and
responsibilities, but as he’s cured, he must leave. He mulls over
his options that night and comes to the conclusion that he’ll
commit suicide the next day. The next morning he packs and heads for
Paris, where he looks up the people he knew him as a sot. They
remember him as a drunk and tell him that sober, he’s a lot
worse-looking than he used to be. Eventually he begins drinking
again, attends a dinner party that goes horribly wrong, and returns
to the clinic, where the film draws to its conclusion. Jeanne
Moreau stars as a woman who takes a shine to Alain, but can’t save
him from himself.
at 4:00 am is the film that put Jeanne Moreau on the star map –
Malle’s The Lovers (1958).
The film brought about a round of protests when it debuted at the
Venice Film Festival. Whereas previous films had discreetly faded to
black before a heavy love scene, Malle instead lingered on the torrid
lovemaking of the married Moreau with her younger lover Bernard
(Jean-Marc Bory), who has injected new passion into her complacent
bourgeois life. Moreau is simply stunning, and Alain Cuny terrific as
her neglectful husband. When the movie premiered in America, the
theater owner who showed it was brought up on obscenity charges.
Needless to say it’s rather mild fare today, but back then the
Puritans were out with a vengeance.
10: At 4 am Demy’s romance Model
Shop (1969) is airing. It’s his first – and
only – American film and concerns a 24-hour period in the life
of unemployed architect George Matthews (Gary Lockwood), stuck
in a dead-end relationship with an aspiring actress (Alexandra Hay).
While attempting to raise enough money to save his car from the repo
man, he espies a beautiful woman, dressed all in white, at a car lot.
He begins following her around the city, eventually reaching her
place of employment, a "model shop" where men pay to
photograph women in a choice of intimate settings. He spends
part of his car payment to snap photographs of her and learns that
her name is Lola (Anouk Aimee), and she is a recently divorced French
woman with no work permit. She’s working at the shop until she can
raise enough money to purchase air fare back to Paris. Thus begins an
intense night where he loves her but she cannot love him. The payoff
at the end is muted, but entirely fitting.
14: A double feature of the Japanese director begins at 2:00
am with Odd Obsession (Kagi,
1959), a disappointing drama about a vain man (Ganjiro Nakamura) who,
becoming impotent, steers his young wife (Machiko Kyo) into an affair
with his daughter’s boyfriend (Tatsuya Nakadai) in an attempt to
resurrect his virility, but things don’t work out as planned.
Having read the book by Junichiro Tanizaki, I expected more than I
got in this rather uneven soaper.
4 am comes a film I haven’t yet had the pleasure of
viewing. Conflagration (Enjo,
1958) stars Raizô Ichikawa as aspiring Buddhist monk Goichi
Mizoguchi, who becomes involved in the temple owned by his
father (Jun Hamamura). Ichikawa uses a series of flashbacks, framed
as a police interrogation, to reveal the story of Mizoguchi’s
obsession with the temple, beginning with his childhood. It sounds
good, and I’ll be recording.
2: Louis Wolheim is a ship’s captain taken in by bank
robbers Mary Astor and husband Ian Keith in 1931’s The
Sin Ship (9:30 am). Directed by Wolheim, it’s
definitely worth seeing.
4: A packet of four Warner Pre-Code musicals, beginning at
12:45 pm with Gold Diggers of
1933 and continuing through Dames(1934)
and Footlight Parade (1933),
before ending with 42nd Street (1932)
at 6:15 pm.
5: Wallace Beery is Pancho Villa in 1934’s Viva
Villa at 6:00 pm.
15: An Alfred E. Green fest begins at 7:00 am. George Arliss
is simply dazzling in the prehistoric Disraeli
(1929). At 8:45 Doris Kenyon’s life spirals downward
when hubby Louis Calhern catches her with William Powell in The
Road to Singapore(1931),
Powell’s first film for Warner Brothers.
10 am naval hero Douglas Fairbanks Jr. becomes a media celebrity
against his wishes in It’s Tough
to be Famous (1932), a film that still resonates
today. At 11:30 am, Joan Blondell encounters down-on-his-luck con
artist Douglas Fairbanks Jr, who has discovered a suitcase full of
money at Union Depot(1932).
Finally, at 12:45 pm, murderer-on-the-lam Fairbanks tries to lay low
in the Pacific islands in 1933’s The
Narrow Corner. The film was later remade as Isle
of Fury with Humphrey Bogart and Margaret Lindsay in 1936.
it’s not Pre-Code, we recommend The
Golden Arrow (1936) with Bette Davis and George
Brent at 3:15 pm. It’s the picture that broke the back of Davis and
caused her to flee to England to try and get out of her Warner Bros.
– CREATURE FEATURES
love May and June because that’s the time TCM usually drags out the
sci-fi flicks for a night or two or even three of enjoyment. And this
year is no different, with some of our faves being shown
4: We begin ay 8 pm with The
Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954). Think of
it and its sequel Revenge of the
Creature (following at 9:30) as King Kong
in miniature, with the creature entranced by Julia Adams while
scientists Richard Carlson, Richard Denning and Antonio Moreno try to
study it. The film was inspired by a Mexican folk tale that tells of
a creature who comes from the jungle once a year to secure a young
maiden, after which the village can breathe easy for another year.
The film was a box office bonanza for Universal and was followed by
two sequels before running its course.
of King Kong, the big
ape makes another appearance at 11 pm.
1:15 am Toho Studios chines in with Mothra (1964)
featuring the adorable Ito Twins (Emi and Yumi – a real-life
singing duo known as The Peanuts), whose abduction from their home
island of Baru triggers Mothra to go looking for them.
one that started it all, The Beast
From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) airs at 3 am. With special
effects by Ray Harryhausen, it’s one of the most beloved
prehistoric beast-on-the-loose films.
at 5 am its the ridiculous Reptilicus (1961),
about a prehistoric monster on the loose in Copenhagen, of all
places. Beginning life as a strictly Danish monster film, directed by
Poul Bang, it was picked up and remade in an all-English version by
producer-director Sid Pink and released through AIP. Deemed
unwatchable upon reviews, the studio had it extensively re-worked by
its Danish-American screenwriter, Ib Melchior, before finally being
released in America in 1962. This led to a lawsuit by Pink over the
changes, but the suit was dropped. When we see the movie we can’t
help but wonder what all the fuss was about. The monster looks like
something carried in a Chinese New Year’s parade, and seen in HD we
can easily spot the wires holding it up. Because of this we
enthusiastically recommend it as a bad move not to be missed.
11: We begin at 8:00 with the classic Rodan (1957),
followed at 9:30 by Willis O’Brien’s The
Black Scorpion (1957). At 11:15 pm The
Deadly Mantis (1957) premiers. Though it has its
moments, it doesn’t have enough of them. Check out the MST
at 2:45 am, it’s two of the silliest sci-fi monster films ever
made. We lead off with Bert I. Gordon’s Empire
of the Ants, where a toxic spill causes our six-legged
friends to grow to enormous size and imprison crooked realtor Joan
Collins and her boat of suckers. Following at 4:30 am is The
Giant Claw (1957), a film that starts off well,
but hits bottom right after the monster is introduced. Co-stars Jeff
Morrow and Mara Corday, who give believable performances, were under
the assumption that Ray Harryhausen would be handling the special
effects. But that hadn’t reckoned on producer Sam Katzman. Always
looking for the cheapest way out, Jungle Sam went to a cheap studio
in Mexico for his f/x. Result? The funniest looking buzzard seen in
the movies. Both Morrow and Corday didn’t know about the switch
until the movie premiered. The crowd was engulfed in the movie –
until the buzzard appeared. The laughter was uproarious and both
Morrow and Corday slunk down in their seats and snuck out of the
theater, hoping not to be recognized.
6: It’s Of Unknown
Origin (1983) at 2:30 am, followed by the awful
star-studded The Swarm (1978)
at 4:00 am.
12: It’s Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde (1932) at 10:15 am and
Humphrey Bogart in The Return of
Doctor X (1939) at 6:45 pm. (See our
13: Begin with The World’s
Greatest Sinner (1965) at 2:30 am (music by Frank
Zappa), followed at 4 am by Peter Graves in Bayou(aka
Poor White Trash, 1957).