Friday, September 21, 2018

TCM TiVo Alert for September 23-30

September 23–September 30


THE LAST WALTZ (September 24, 9:00 pm): Martin Scorsese directs this all-time classic concert film that captures the last time the five original members of the legendary rock/folk/Americana group The Band performed. It features appearances by, among others, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and a great set with Bob Dylan, who The Band backed when he first went electric. It's one of the best rock movies ever made though it's certainly not perfect. The interview segments with the group's members are just as good as the music. You can read a full review I wrote a couple of years ago about the film here that does it justice. 

WUTHERING HEIGHTS (September 26, 6:00 pm): It's always challenging to adapt a classic book into a movie, and this 1939 film uses less than half of Emily Bronte's 34 chapters (eliminating the second generation of characters) in the book. But it's still a stunning film directed by one of the true masters, William Wyler. Laurence Olivier gives an unforgettable performance as Heathcliff, showing a wide range of emotions in a complicated role. Heathcliff is bitter, vengeful, conflicted and passionately in love. I doubt anyone else could do justice to the role. Merle Oberon as Cathy is also wonderful as are many members of the cast including David Niven, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Hugh Williams.


HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE (Sept. 25, 8:00 pm): A dead on, hilarious satire about the marginalization of African-Americans in Hollywood, directed by Robert Townshend and written by Townshend and Keenan Ivory Wayans. The film is a series of vignettes tied together by the experiences of Bobby Taylor (Townshend) in auditioning for parts that turns out to be stereotypical. One of the funniest vignettes is “Black Acting School,” in which prospective students are taught how to play slaves, butlers, criminals, and street punks. Other standout vignettes are “Sneakin’ Into The Movies,” a parody of Siskel and Ebert, and “Sam Ace,” a take off on hard-boiled detectives with the hero taking on villain Jerry Curl. Besides the satiric broadsides, the film also offers a refreshing authentic glimpse into real middle-class African-Americans in stark contrast to the roles they are offered in the film industry. It’s a welcome shot at an industry that always saw itself as immune and never missed a chance to pat itself on the back (see George Clooney’s ridiculously smug speech at the 2006 Oscars).

WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? (September 27, 2:00 pm): A surprising look into Hollywood that been unjustly overlooked after the release of A Star is Born, which it inspired. Lowell Sherman is unforgettable as the dipso director whose career has sliding into oblivion with Constance Bennett shining as a waitress whose ambition is to be a movie star, a goal she fulfills with the help of Sherman. With Gregory Ratoff and Neil Hamilton. A must see for all movie fans.

WE DISAGREE ON ... 42ND STREET (September 30, 8:15 am)

EDA++. This is the mother of all Pre-Code musicals, and the prototype for all future musicals. The story is simple – Sugar Daddy Abner Dillon (Guy Kibbee) is backing a new Broadway show titled “Pretty Lady,” which will star his squeeze Dorothy Brock (Bebe Daniels). The trouble is that while Brock is Dillon’s Main Squeeze, she doesn’t want to be squoze by him. She’d rather be in the arms of old boyfriend George Brent, with whom she’s still in love. Things come to a boil, with the result that Bebe breaks her ankle and can’t go on. Just as it looks like there’s going to be a dark theater, young Peggy Sawyer (Ruby Keeler) is plucked from the chorus line by director Julian Marsh (Warner Baxter) and given the chance to be the star. You know the rest. Once Busby Berkeley takes over staging the dance numbers, it’ll never be quite the same again, both for the musicals and for Berkeley. Not only does the film contain unforgettable numbers such as “Young and Healthy,” Shuffling Off to Buffalo,” and the title song, but listen in and catch some of the most risque lines and scenarios ever to populate a musical. Ginger Rogers, in an early role, plays a character named Anytime Annie. “She only said ‘No’ once, and that was when she didn’t hear the question,” says backstage manager Andy Lee (George E. Stone). Also watch for the homosexual innuendo between Julian Marsh and Andy Lee. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this film over the years, but each time I sit down to watch, it comes across still as fresh as the first time I saw it.

DAVID: C. When I saw the play on Broadway in 1982, I thought it was fun, primarily because of the great choreography. The plot is simplistic and there's a handful of good songs. When I saw the 1933 movie, of which the play is based, I wondered why anyone would take a mediocre at best film and make it a play. (Of course, the play was an unbelievable success and the film was well-received.) The movie is filled with cliche lines about putting on a Broadway musical including the unknown chorus girl becoming the star. “Sawyer, you're going out a younger, but you've got to come back a star!” and “Sawyer, you listen to me and you listen hard” are two such cheesy lines. The only missing piece is Mickey Rooney. Like its play adaption, the movie's plot is virtually nonexistent. The movie is a shade under 90 minutes and about 20 minutes of it is three song-and-dance numbers from the fictitious play being put on in the film. The Busby Berkeley dance numbers have entertaining moments and the cinematography of them is good, but not nearly enough to keep my interest. 

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

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