31 Days of Oscar promises treats
acting to cinematography, art direction, etc. Some days are devoted to a country, a director, the birthday of an individual performer, a genre, or even movies with similar titles, but nothing else in common. In the last few years, TCM has added silent movies (usually in the middle of the night so if viewers who wake up and don’t want something loud are the perfect demographic), foreign films (European and Asian), American independents, and more recent movies.
Here are quick notes on some movies we’ve seen over the past year or so and they’ll probably repeat in the next few months:
|Director Irvin Kershner Faces Darth Vader|
Louise Brooks became an icon in G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929). That slick, perverse flapper look was most arrestingly recalled by Melanie Griffith’s character in Something Wild (1986), which was one of the most compelling romantic comedy-dramas of that decade. Brooks is bright, effervescent, and seems innocently American amid the European gloom and near Eastern exoticism of what is an extensive epic. What surprised me most is that Brooks was less interesting and somewhat wan once her hairstyle changes during the movie.
Joan Bennett in The Woman in the Window (1944), directed by Fritz Lang, The Reckless Moment (1949), directed by Max Ophuls, and Father of the Bride (1950), directed by Vincente Minnelli, had a tough-tender style that lent itself to film noir femme fatales and sophisticated housewife/mother roles. Why isn’t she thought of with Stanwyck, de Havilland, or Crawford? That’s one thing that TCM addresses in its selections.
Going My Way (1944) was an enormous popular and critical success in its day. Now, it plays sentimentally and I never know how to deal with Bing Crosby because I cannot discount what his son said about growing up in his dictatorial household from his low-key, easy going screen presence. Barry Fitzgerald, though, is hilariously funny and touching as his over-the-hill mentor whose competence may be eroding.
Rashomon (1950), directed by Akira Kurosawa and, simply put, what other channel would run three or four electrifying Japanese samurai movies in a row? Many refer to something as being ‘like Rashomon’, but it’s eye-opening to actually experience the origin of that phrase.