Thursday, March 22, 2018

TCM TiVo Alert for March 23-31

March 23-31


FLAMINGO ROAD (March 23, 11:00 am): Joan Crawford plays a carnival dancer (who is supposed to likely be about half her real age) who stays in a small town when the show moves on. She quickly becomes the object of attraction of a number of the men, and chooses a businessman with a drinking problem (played by David Brian) to marry. They move to Flamingo Road, the richest section of the town. While Crawford is solid and her name is above the title, it is clear that Syndey Greenstreet, who plays Sheriff Titus Semple (the corrupt local political boss), is the best part of the movie. Greenstreet, who was ill when making this film and comes across as a guy who is dying, is listed not only below Crawford, but Zachary Scott, who plays a sheriff's deputy. Greenstreet is perfect as the sleazy political boss who creates and ruins careers and lives. The confrontational scenes with Crawford and Greenstreet are outstanding. This was the second to last film for Greenstreet, who died less than five years after this 1949 movie was released.

ON THE WATERFRONT (March 25, 2:00 pm): There is so much to enjoy and admire about this 1954 film. The story is complex yet simple - the struggle facing Terry Malloy as to whether he should do the right thing or the smart thing, and the repercussions that decision has on him, his brother, other longshoremen and those living near the dock. The acting is brilliant with Marlon Brando at his best and incredible performances by the supporting cast, in particular, Lee J. Cobb and Rod Steiger. The film takes you on a roller-coaster of emotions – anger, joy, hostility, frustration, sympathy, sadness and happiness. It's rare for a movie to not only do that, but do it exceptionally well.


BOMBSHELL (March 24, 6:15 am): A tour de force by star Jean Harlow in this no holds barred send-up of Hollywood stardom. Lee Tracy is the studio’s publicity agent who makes her life hell with his schemes and his meddling. Harlow’s character, Lola Burns, is modeled after Clara Bow, but it’s not too far removed from Harlow’s own life. Frank Morgan is superb as her father, the patriarch of her boorish family of entitled spongers. But Harlow is the reason to tune in. She shows a brilliant flair for comedy with rapid-fire delivery of lines and adds to the film’s bite. All in all, an insightful look at how both a studio and the star’s own relatives exploit and take advantage of her talent and stardom.

THE H MAN (March 26, 3:45 am): Leave it to the Japanese to bring something different to the table. A nuclear test in the Pacific has created radioactive creatures - H Men – who ooze like slime and dissolve anyone they touch. While this is going on we cut to Tokyo, where police are battling narcotics dealers. After a suspect disappears, leaving nothing but his clothes, police question his nightclub singer wife and stake out the club, A professor puts two and two together and concludes the suspect was killed by coming into contact with the H Men. The climax is a letdown, but the film itself is so bizarre it warrants a look see. The films Japanese title, Bijo to Ekitainingen, roughly translates to “Beautiful Women and the Hydrogen Men.”


ED: A. No one made Westerns like John Ford. He singlehandedly restored the genre to the A-side of the bill in 1939 withStagecoach after it had been banished to the B’s after the colossal failure of The Big Trail in 1930. She Wore a Yellow Ribboncontinues the magic. Considered the second part – and the best – of Ford “7th Calvary” trilogy, after Fort Apache and before Rio Grande, the film begins with the aftermath of Custer’s Last Stand. The subject of the film is the duty and burden of command. Captain Nathan Brittles (John Wayne), on his last mission before retirement, is a man who, unlike Custer, is worthy of command. Now in the twilight of his career, he has made peace with himself and he can now seek that peace with his foes without feeling the need to apologize for it. As with Ford’s other epic, poignant Westerns of this period it’s not a plain actioner, but rather an illustrated piece, an stylishly sentimental work focusing on the set rituals of an army post. As with many an excellent film, there are slow spots contrasted with great set pieces. As with many of Ford’s films, there is a tad too much tedious Irish comedy (think Victor McLaglen’s Sgt. Quincannon, whose “comedy” offset one of his finest performances), and the usual annoying pair of young lovers (John Agar and Joanne Dru). But the work as a whole transcends its faults; beautifully photographed in Monument Valley by Technicolor specialist Winton Hoch (who won an Academy Award for it). it evokes a Frederic Remington work in its breathtaking beauty. The performances are excellent, and Wayne has never been better. Though not the greatest actor, he rises to the occasion when guided by a strong director such as Ford or Hawks. This is an essential Western.

DAVID: C+. This Western, directed by the legendary John Ford, is beautifully filmed in Technicolor with spectacular scenery. But the plot is flimsy at best and the acting at times borders on the ridiculous. While John Wayne was largely a one-dimension actor, he was capable of some fantastic performances. Wayne had great moments in StagecoachThe Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Red River. I digress to give you some context for She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. As I previously wrote, the scenery is incredible, which counts for a lot because as far as Westerns go, this one is nearly devoid of action. Ford could be a stickler for historic accuracy, but what is shown in this film is largely a work of fiction. That's fine, but Wayne unconvincingly playing a man much older than he, and the silly love story falls miserably short in a movie with some excellent cinematography. It's pretty to see, but ugly to hear.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment