Tuesday, January 30, 2018

TCM TiVo Alert for February 1-7

February 1–February 7


YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (February 2, 1:45 am): I'm not a fan of musicals nor am I a fan of sentimental films that play with your emotions, particularly a largely fictitious biopic. Yet I'm a huge fan of Yankee Doodle Dandy, which obviously falls into all of the above categories. The sheer joy that James Cagney brings to the role of George M. Cohan is infectious. It's completely Cagney's movie. He is so spectacular, so engaging, so entertaining, that I find myself humming along to some of the corniest songs ever written and watching with a big smile on my face.

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (February 7, 8:00 pm): 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. 


BATTLEGROUND (February, 3:30 am): The first film depicting an actual World War II battle, released in 1949, when memories of the war were still fresh in the minds of the soldiers that fought in it. Employing an excellent ensemble cast, including James Whitmore, Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, John Hodiak, and George Murphy, it’s the story of the 101st Airborne Division and its brave stand at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge as told by writer Robert Pirosh and director William Wellman. Seen as somewhat dated today when compared to the awe-inspiring realism of the Band of Brothers mini-series, the film was considered as cutting edge when first released in terms of realism and faithfulness to history. It’s still well worth your time and still retains its punch after all these years.

BLACK NARCISSUS (February 4, 8:00 pm): The team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger was certainly on a roll in the ‘40s, producing quite a few masterpieces of cinema. This is one of them, a sumptuously filmed and dramatically charged movie, about a group of Anglican nuns, led by Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), trying to establish a mission in a remote Himalayan outpost  The climate is hostile and the nuns are housed in an odd old palace. They work to establish a school and a hospital, but slowly their focus shifts, as emotional challenges come to the surface. Adapted from Rumer Godden’s novel, this is one of the most breathtaking color films ever made and won deserved Oscars for cinematographer Jack Cardiff and art director Alfred Junge.

WE DISAGREE ON ... HOW THE WEST WAS WON (February 6, 12:15 am)

ED: A. Filmed in panoramic Cinerama, this epic, star-laden, Western is a classic. It is a film truly made for the Cinerama process, and frankly, watching it on anything less diminishes its impact to a degree. But what makes this film a classic is the combined efforts of three noted directors: Henry Hathaway, John Ford and George Marshall. Each directs an episode in this episodic saga about three families and their adventures between 1839 and 1889. Spencer Tracy narrates, and the film, which cost an estimated $15 million to complete, was a massive undertaking. It is true to say that with the decline of Cinerama, they don't make them like this any more. But moviegoers have always been, and always will be, impressed with big movies. It was one of the top hits of 1963, earning eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Although it is diminished somewhat without the full Cinerama experience, the film is still superb entertainment, thanks to the cast and especially the direction by three of the best action directors in the business. It still retains its power to entertain and remains as a great popcorn film.

DAVID: B-. This film comes with an impressive pedigree. It's a Western with John Ford as one of its directors and an all-star cast including Henry Fonda, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb. The movie poster touted "24 Great Stars in the Mightiest Adventure Ever Filmed!" Spencer Tracy provides the narration, and it's beautifully filmed in Cinerama, a very advanced, very expensive process for 1963, when it was released. It's a good film, thus my grade of B-, so I'm not going to trash it for argument's sake. However, for nearly every step forward, it take a step back. While the cast is great, we don't get to spend much time with them. It seemed like the movie was trying to fit in as many film legends as possible just to say they're in it. There's little to no character development and most of the actors either have cameos or small roles. Because of that, the viewer can't get attached to the characters as they leave the screen almost as fast as they entered a few minutes prior. There's some nice work such as Ford's Civil War segment, which, surprisingly, lasts about 15 minutes in a film that is ridiculously long – almost three hours. The overall length would be fine if portions of it weren't also boring and pointless. Epics tell the story of a character or two or three, and allow the audience to see the development of that person or people. That doesn't happen here as it's a story of four generations of one family. That wouldn't be an issue if there was a solid storyline. There's a lot of potential in this movie, and some of it is realized. Of all the great actors in the film, a decent amount is dedicated to a character played by George Peppard, who is quite good. The movie has great scenery and a beautiful look, but it should have been tighter with more focus.

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

1 comment:

  1. A SPACE ODYSSEY Reading your comments made me want to watch it again this weekend I'll find it online somewhere