Tuesday, March 13, 2018

TCM TiVo Alert for March 15-22

March 15–March 22


CROSSFIRE (March 18, 10:00 am): Robert Ryan was a tremendous actor and this is my favorite film to feature him. This 1947 film noir that deals with anti-Semitism is considered the first B movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The film stars the great Robert Mitchum with Robert Young outstanding as a police detective. But it is Ryan's powerful portrayal of a white supremacist/anti-Semite GI who kills a Jewish guy he and his buddies meet at a bar who steals the movie. 

WATERLOO BRIDGE (March 22, 12:00 pm): While the 1940 version of this film is a bit overproduced – MGM, of course – it's still wonderful with outstanding performances given by the leads, Vivien Leigh (her first film after Gone With the Wind) and Robert Taylor. It's the start of World War II and Taylor is a British Army captain while Leigh is a ballerina. It's love at first sight, but things don't work out so easily with the Nazis trying to blow up England. The two are to be married, but Taylor is called to duty and it only gets worse. Leigh loses her job at the ballet and in order to survive she becomes a prostitute. All hope is lost with Leigh convinced Taylor died in the war after reading his name in the list of those killed in battle. It shows you can't believe everything you read. Some are critical of the ending, but with the Hays Code in play, there wasn't much else to be done. It's still an excellent film.


42nd STREET (March 15, 6:15 pm): The first and the best of the backstage musicals churned out by Warner Brothers in the ‘30s. All the cliches are there: the producer fighting poor health to put on his next show because he’s broke, the gold digging chorines, the star with an attitude, the kid from the chorus who is picked to headline the show after the star can’t go on and the sugar daddy who backs the show. Superbly acted by Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ginger Rogers and Guy Kibbee, it also contains some of the greatest numbers even thought up by Busby Berkeley. This is a film one can watch multiple times without becoming bored.

A FACE IN THE CROWD (March 18, 1:45 pm): Budd Schulberg wrote and Elia Kazan directed this prescient look at celebrity and media-made pundits in the story of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a drifter discovered in jail by the hostess (Patricia Neal) of a morning radio show in Pickett, Arkansas, and who, through the sheer force of his “down home” personality eventually makes his way to New York, where he becomes not only an entertainment superstar, but a respected wielder of opinion; powerful enough to make a nondescript senator into a formidable presidential candidate. Rhodes, however, is rotten to the core, and as his fame and power increase, the monster within him begins to break out. It’s up to Neal, as a latter-day Frankenstein, to destroy the monster she created before he destroys us, and she does it in a quite unique way. Neal, of course, is her usual superb self, and Griffith gave the best performance of his career, playing against type. He should have gotten the Oscar, but he wasn’t even nominated, due to the less than stellar box office of the movie and the liberal backlash against director Kazan for supposedly “naming names” before Congress. (In reality he didn’t name anyone that wasn’t already named again and again.) What eventually brought critics around to giving this film another look was Francois Truffaut, who championed the film as a modern-day classic and a warning.

WE DISAGREE ON ... CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (March 16, 6:00 pm)

ED. A-. The censors watered down Tennessee Wiliiams’s classic Pultizer Prize winning play about greed and mendacity in the South, but it still packs one hell of a punch, thanks to a great cast, especially Elizabeth Taylor, who gives one of her best performances and steams up the screen in doing so. Jack Carson scores in one of his last roles as Paul Newman’s brother (and Burl Ives’ son). Newman himself isn’t as dominant in this as he usually is in other films, but still manages to give a powerful performance nevertheless. However, considering the censorship, this is a film that should have been made during the ‘80s, when such topics could be honestly addressed, as Williams did in his play. It’s the excellent cast that puts this film over the hump for the audience, and it’s a wonderful film to see just for the performances.

DAVID: C+. This isn't a bad film, but there are a number of reasons I don't think it's anything special. First the good: Burl Ives is fantastic as Big Daddy, the patriarch of the dysfunctional family featured in the movie. He plays his role to near perfection. To begin the not-so-good list, the screenplay of this Tennessee Williams' play is too melodramatic. As I've mentioned before, I'm not much of a fan of Paul Newman or Elizabeth Taylor. This 1958 film is an example of why. The pair lack chemistry together, and, yes, I know the idea is the two have marital issues. But that doesn't mean Newman and Taylor can't work together to make a good film. Taylor's character goes from understanding to psychotic in the snap of a finger, and she fails to convey any authenticity. As for Newman, he overuses method acting in this film as he was prone to do when playing angst-ridden characters. His character broods and then lashes out during the entire film for no logical reason. The Hays Code wouldn't permit the heavily suggested homosexual aspects of Newman's character that are in the play to be included in the film so viewers are left to wonder: why is any of this occurring? To make matters worse, the characters and the film are pretentious.

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

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