Saturday, July 6, 2013

TCM TiVo Alert for July 8-14

July 8–July 14


MISSISSIPPI MERMAID (July 12, 12:00 am): This just missed cracking my Top 5 favorite Francois Truffaut films so I must comment here. It's a captivating film noir about the rich owner of a tobacco plantation (played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) who finds a bride through the classified section of a French newspaper. The bride that gets off the ship doesn't match the picture she sent, but it's Catherine Deneuve, looking slutty gorgeous, so he doesn't complain. Things are not as they seem with Truffaut doing an excellent job directing a film that is similar to classic Alfred Hitchcock, one of his cinematic heroes. The movie has several outstanding plot twists and gives the viewer an interesting perspective on love without question or doubt.

SIDEWALKS OF LONDON (July 13, 6:00 am): Charles Laughton and Vivien Leigh as co-stars - yeah, this 1938 film is outstanding. Leigh is a beautiful young pickpocket and a great dancer. Laughton is a street performer (called a busker) who has some talent, reciting dramatic monologues outside London's West End theater district for pocket change, but is street smart and has an eye for talent. He adds Leigh to his show and things take off. She is truly talented and goes on to great fame while Laughton's character gets a shot and doesn't make it. But Laughton is so versatile in this role coming across as both charming and tragic.  


X THE UNKNOWN (July 10, 4:15 am) – What a rotten hour for such a good movie. Hammer made some really good science fiction movies in the 50s and early 60s. This one moves from an absurd premise – intelligent mud from deep in the Earth is looking for energy to feed on, and sucks us completely in with an intelligent script from Jimmy Sangster, intelligent acting from star Dean Jagger and (especially) Leo McKern, and decent, considering the budget, special effects. It’s the first of the “blob” movies. Watch for Anthony Newley and Ian McNaughton as a pair of comic relief soldiers that later fall victim to the blob. McNaughton went to on produce Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

THE BRIDE WORE BLACK (July 12, 8:00 pm) – It’s Truffaut’s tribute to Alfred Hitchcock and it’s a worthy tribute indeed, even to the point of being based on a Cornell Woolrich novel and a score written by Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann. Julie Kohler (Jeanne Moreau in an unforgettable performance) is to be married. Thugs whack her fiancée on the steps of the church. So . . . they want to play rough, do they? Well, she can play even rougher, and does, dispatching the killers with verve, if not glee. It all makes for great viewing. Quentin Tarantino used it as the basis for his Kill Bill.

WE DISAGREE ON ... SOME LIKE IT HOT (July 8, 9:00 pm)

ED: A. This movie has the double distinction of being one the best comedies ever made and one of director Billy Wilder’s best comedies. Everything works in this film about two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and try to shake their pursuers by joining an all-girl band headed to Miami. Lemmon, always in fine form, was made for this film; and Curtis was also fun to watch, proving once again that when teamed with a better actor to lead, he’s capable of a fine performance. Monroe, as Sugar Kane, gives an unforgettable performance; she was a fine comedic actress whose talents were sadly misused in many of her other films. And the casting of old-time comedian Joe E. Brown was truly an inspired move on Wilder’s part. To quote TCM’s critic Rob Nixon: “. . . Wilder mixed black comedy, nostalgia for the silent era, over-the-top physical humor, and a fine sense of period detail to turn what might have been a smutty one-joke chase movie into a classic of the American screen.” I couldn’t have said it any better.

DAVID: B. This is a good film, but far from being one of the funniest ever made. (The American Film Institute ranked it as the funniest U.S. movie of all time in 2000.) It's not even director Billy Wilder's best film. Honestly, it doesn't crack my Top 10 among Wilder-directed movies, which shows how incredibly talented he was as not only a director but as a writer. Some Like It Hot has some funny moments, and Jack Lemmon is wonderful as are some of the movie's secondary actors, particularly Joe E. Brown and George Raft. It's not Marilyn Monroe's finest moment and Tony Curtis was, well, Tony Curtis. Again, it's good, but I don't understand at all why it's considered such a classic. There's nothing special about the plot, and having two guys dress in drag is a joke that can only go so far before it gets tired. It also wasn't anything new as Milton Berle dressed as a woman on his TV show years earlier. It wasn't that funny when Berle did it and only a bit more entertaining with Curtis and Lemmon. 

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

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