Monday, October 1, 2018

Cinéma Inhabituel for October 1-15

A Guide to the Interesting and Unusual on TCM

By Ed Garea


Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Frank Capra’s 1939 classic about a naive young idealist (James Stewart) whose eyes are opened after being appointed to serve a vacant U.S. Senate seat when he sees how the nation’s political system works. It can be seen in selected theaters on October 14 and 17.


October 12: In America and Britain the pejorative for a male homosexual is “pansy.” But in Japan the term is “rose.” Director Toshio Matsumoto gives us a glimpse into a subculture we rarely think about when it comes to Japan in his 1970 Funeral Parade of Roses, airing at 2:15 am. It’s an outrageous gender-bending version of sorts of  Sophocles' Oedipus Rex updated to the swinging ‘60s. Barely known outside of Japan since its release, this avant garde cult classic has gained a life of its own thanks to the digital age. Using the thinnest of plots, Matsumoto shows the counterculture lifestyle of Eddie (Peter) and other Tokyo "gay boys" who range from hippies to drag queens. Eddie is a frequenter of Gonda’s (Yoshio Tsuchiya) Shinjiku establishment, the Genet Bar (an obvious reference to French writer Jean Genet), a hotbed of competition and jealousy as Eddie battles Leda (Osamu Ogasawara), the established matriarch of the club, for Gonda's attentions. Eddie, who is also repeatedly haunted by visions of his dead mother and his absent father, confronts Gonda in the finale. That’s all I’m going to say, except to keep Sophocles in mind. It’s a fascinating look as a subculture few outside Japan are familiar with as Matsumoto, obviously showing the influence of Godard, follows the adventures of Eddie and his friends. Look for the scene where the transvestites run across a gang of girls who are not too happy with what they see as being mocked. Bu the way, Yoshio Tsuchiya is best known to Japanese film fanatics as Farmer Rikichi in Seven Samurai and for his appearances in such Kaiju genres as Godzilla Raids Again, The Mysterians, The H-Man, Matango, Destroy All Monsters and Frankenstein Conquers the World.


October 7: At 2 am it’s the delightful Pauline at the Beach from director Eric Rohmer. The third in Rohmer’s 1980s series “Comedies and Proverbs,” the film follows the adventures of 15-year old Pauline (Amanda Langlet) as she accompanies her her older cousin Marion (Arielle Dombasle) to their family's vacation home on the north-western coast of France. As they settle into their trip, Marion quizzes Pauline on her love life, with Pauline confessing that she has not had any serious affairs of the heart. On the beach, Marion spies ex-lover Pierre (Pascal Greggory), there with his friend Henri (Feodor Atkine). The quartet agree to have dinner together and afterwards they discuss their ideas of love in Henri's living room. Marion falls for Henri while Pauline begins an affair with a young man named Sylvain (Simon de la Brosse) who she met on the beach. It’s an enchanting look at young love and coming of age as both ladies end up disappointed with their amours. 


This October, The Mummy is TCM’s “Monster of the Month,” and TCM has a nice supply of one of our favorite monsters on hand. 

October 7: Start with The Mummy’s Hand at 8 pm, then move on to The Mummy’s Ghost at 9:30 and The Mummy’s Curse at 10:45. The latter two starred Universal’s Man of all Monsters, Lon Chaney. Jr.

October 14: The night takes a comedic turn with Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy at 8 pm and Wheeler and Woosley in Mummy’s Boys at 9:30 pm. At 10:45 pm comes the unintentionally funny The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy, a film best enjoyed on its MST 3000 incarnation.


October 10: A night of Christopher Lee kicks off at 8 pm with The Devil’s Bride, followed at 10 pm by Horror of Dracula, with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee in his star-making turn as Dracula. At 11:30 pm the sequel, Dracula, Prince of Darkness, follows. And at 1:15 Lee stars with Betta St. John in Horror Hotel.


October 3: A night of Lon Chaney begins with the classic The Unknown, with Joan Crawford, at 8 pm. 

October 8: The 1920 silent classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari airs at 12:15 am.

October 13: At 8 pm bumbling professor Jack MacGowran tracks vampires in the wilds of Eastern Europe in Roman Polanski’s The Fearless Vampire Killers.


October 6: A group of desperate losers plan a bank robbery, with unexpected results, in Odds Against Tomorrow, at Midnight.

October 13: Joan Crawford in one of her better ‘50s films, The Damned Don’t Cry, at 12:30 am.


October 2: Myrna Loy dazzles in Penthouse at 8 am. followed by Harlow in Red-Headed Woman at 9:30 and back to Loy, along with William Powell in the venerable The Thin Man at 11;30.

October 4: Mae West, along with Cary Grant, ion the classic I’m No Angel, airing at 8 pm.

October 5: Maurice Evans, Roland Young and John Loder in the rarely seen Wedding Rehearsal, from director Alexander Korda and London Film in 1932.

October 12: William Haines and Madge Evans star in the 1932 comedy Fast Life at 6 am.

October 14: Bette Davis, Ann Dvorak and Joan Blondell in Three on a Match (1932) at 8:45 am. Also with an early appearance by Humphrey Bogart.

Charlie Chaplin in one of his best, City Lights (1931) at Noon.

October 15: An eccentric millionaire kidnaps eloping couples to make sure they're meant for each other in RKO’s  Where Sinners Meet, with Diana Wynyard and Clive Brook.


October 3: Catch Virginia Weidler, Ray McDonald and Leo Gorcey as “Snap” Collins in Born to Sing at 1 pm. All we need say is that Gorcey actually warbles in this - enough to make it both awful and a Must See.

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