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Rinaldo

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  1. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    Today is Shirley MacLaine Day, and no doubt everyone has their own favorites. But let me put in a plug for Gambit from 1967 (6:00 pm ET). This has one of those nifty structures that I've often confessed being a sucker for. In fact it's a bit similar to Unfaithfully Yours, which we were just talking about: we see the same action carried out more than once, under different premises. (We also see her cast as Eurasian again, as in Around the World in 80 Days; so swallow that one in advance.) She, Michael Caine, and Herbert Mom are fun, and this sort of twisty narrative always delights me.
  2. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    I have watched it over and over again. Sublime indeed. And the first number in the movie, "Pick Yourself Up," is of equal quality in its different vein. And the very end of the movie, after the scene that wonderfully knits together the central metaphor of Fred & Ginger ("There isn't going to be any wedding" after all the instances of "There isn't going to be any dance" because dance = perfect romantic partnership), where he and she sing together in counterpoint for the only time ever... and we discover that the two big love songs, "The Way You Look Tonight" and "A Fine Romance," fit together perfectly.... This movie is their supreme achievement.
  3. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    I don't think I said it was unique (just rather unusual), or unique to Sturges. But I do agree that Unfaithfully Yours -- my other top-favorite Sturges (I own both DVDs) -- wraps up with similar swiftness. I'll admit that it always disappointments me slightly that such a funny movie closes with an overripe romantic line ("A thousand poets dreamed a thousand years, then you were born, my love!") rather than a witty one. But that mixture is an essential part of Sturges's makeup, I guess, and if it's a flaw it's only a tiny one in an otherwise magnificent movie.
  4. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    One of the things I love about The Palm Beach Story each time I see it is its succinctness. In so many comedies one gets a feel for the rhythm of the overall story, the underlying three-act structure (which has nothing to do with derivation from the stage), and it can feel deflating to think "OK, we're now 2/3 through the plot, we're at maximum complexity and still have the unraveling and conclusion to get through," but in TPBS, when we arrive at that point, everybody just talks to each other and it's wrapped up in 2 minutes and done! In that surrealistic way belonging to this movie alone. Also, McCrea. (No disrespect intended -- it's an unusually tricky name to spell, and I have to double-check it every time, myself.)
  5. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    Today (Wednesday) is Joel McCrea day. He doesn't seem seem to be one of the immortals among male stars from his period, as Gable, Fonda, Tracy, Grant, Cooper, etc., are, but he deserves to be: he always acted well and in a style that hasn't become dated, had good chemistry with his costars, got his laughs (when appropriate), and in short is always worth watching. Of today's varied roster, I'll pick out my top three favorites: The Palm Beach Story (6:30 pm ET): The best side of Preston Sturges (Sullivan's Travels also turns up today, and some love it, but to me it's pretentious and obvious): fast, funny, surrealistic (be sure to catch it from the very beginning!), lightly satirical, and full of wacky side trips like The Weenie King! The More the Merrier (9:45 pm): Housing overcrowding in WWII DC! He's subletting from Charles Coburn who's subletting from Jean Arthur, all together in one apartment, and the atmosphere is full of both mischief and (unspoken) sexual tension. All brought off with a light touch. Ride the High Country (2:15 am): I'm not a fan of Westerns as a genre, but there are 4 or 5 really outstanding examples, and this one is top of my list. Still-unknown Sam Peckinpah directed McCrea and Randolph Scott (both at or near the end of their careers) as two old-timers hired to transport gold. Along the way they're joined by luminous Mariette Hartley (here "introduced" at age 21) and events develop in unexpected directions. The very last shot moves me eery time and is a fitting way to remember Joel McCrea.
  6. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    Thanks for the rec, @voiceover. I'll add the encore to my DVR's tasks for the (already overloaded) day. As I've sometimes had trouble finding silent comedy as hilarious as I'm supposed to, I've taken Gary Giddins up on his suggestions (in his book Warning Shadows about DVD reissues of old movies). He endorses the greatness of The General but finds it more beautiful than funny. To him, the funniest Buster Keaton films are Sherlock Jr., Seven Chances, and The Navigator. All four are yet to come on the schedule, and I'm recording all four.
  7. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    Once Upon a Time in the West is my favorite too. (Although I don't know if I could reliably keep watching if I stumbled on it -- that's nearly a 3-hour commitment!!) I saw it under memorable circumstances too: It had achieved nearly mythic status among American movie buffs in the early 1970s, after its heavily cut US release had failed, so that few here had seen it and those few in a mutilated form, even as we heard how highly it was regarded in Europe. Then in my summer of 1973 in Europe (paid for with my army discharge money), I spent four days in Amsterdam and saw that OUaTitW was playing at full length, in English (unlike Germany, the Netherlands didn't have a big enough audience to justify making dubbed versions). I got walking directions from the hostel desk and made my way there, to enjoy it in the midst of an otherwise Dutch audience. What an experience. The operatic space and time of it (aided by Ennio Morricone's music) and particularly -- everyone says it, I know, but it's true -- seeing Henry Fonda as an irredeemable monster, for the only time in his career. Just a great experience all around.
  8. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    It does?!? Why didn't my DVR grab it for me? It's under orders to find whatever Ralph Meeker it can. (Recently it gave me Paths of Glory, The Naked Spur (unexpectedly good), and an episode each of Route 66 and The Green Hornet.) I've been on a bit of a Ralph Meeker kick lately, after seeing the clip of the original stage cast of Picnic that's on YouTube. (He and Janice Rule were so right for the main roles, it made me hungry for more.) I don't know... maybe it did show up on the DVR and I thoughtlessly trashed it. Thanks for the good descriptions of it, in any case.
  9. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    The movie itself sounds strange for sure (now I wish I'd caught it!), but what's described there is how language works in any movie set in a non-English-speaking environment. They speak their own language (German in Amadeus; whatever-they-speak-in-that-galaxy-far-far-away in the Star Wars series), and we hear English. Sometimes a movie switches between scenes from English to Other-as-English, and that's a standard convention too.
  10. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    No offense taken -- I tried and tried to reword that comment to emphasize that it's just my weird knee-jerk reaction to the "X will always be Y to me" formation. I should have kept quiet (though Perkins's later history is indeed a rather sad one, maybe it would have been anyway, as he had some personal issues). Actually, you're more generous than I would be about his Green Mansions performance! Though I try to be cautious about calling anyone miscast (again, that's what acting is for), this part seemed a real stretch for him. And seriously, do look out for him in The Matchmaker if you can find it. The trailer gives a glimpse of it, though it's all rather hard-sell in the style of the time. The movie is available on YouTube for a price, but I hope that TCM will get around to it someday.
  11. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    Alas, that reaction was widespread once Psycho existed, and pretty much killed Perkins's career. It's the most extreme such case I can think of, and the saddest. Directors and producers shared the public's feeling, and would no longer cast him in the sympathetic, charming sorts of roles in which he had excelled before. Not Green Mansions -- that was just a horrible mistake all around -- but look at his work in Friendly Persuasion, or even more, in The Matchmaker, and one can see why he was quickly becoming a big star. Few young actors have had such warmth and appeal in front of the camera; now that I think of it, it's a kind of male equivalent of what Audrey Hepburn had with audiences at that time. Of course there's the question of whether that kind of gentle charm would have been sustainable as he aged; but we'll never know now. He ended up mostly employed for twitchy variations on the Norman Bates image (see Pretty Poison and Murder on the Orient Express). I say it only as a personal matter, but I've tried to eliminate the formation "Actor X will always be Role Y to me" from my vocabulary. And the Tony Perkins story is one reason why.
  12. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    They must have a package deal or something on Robin and Marian. I don't begrudge an occasional showing (people are bound to be curious about the pairing of Connery and Hepburn in these iconic roles, though they're likely to be disappointed), but they've been overdoing it lately. I suspect they're giving Breakfast at Tiffany's a rest these days, and I can understand why if so. (Now watch them run it next month and prove me wrong.) My own candidate for an Audrey movie they should have included is, of course, Two for the Road. Another obvious absentee is Roman Holiday, the movie that made her an instant star (Gregory Peck saw it during shooting, and demanded that her billing be promoted to equality with his, lest he look like a jerk). There's also How To Steal a Million, and a late appearance in a Bogdanovich movie, They All Laughed, which doesn't do much for her, but it's a rarity (I bet TCM has never shown it). I could live without R&M, The Children's Hour, and Green Mansions. At least we'll get Funny Face and Charade. Isn't it funny that she still inspires this kind of personal protective loyalty?
  13. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    Errol Flynn Day. Maybe only a handful of his pictures are classics, but those are true classics. At a minimum, anybody who's never seen The Adventures of Robin Hood needs to catch it (2 pm ET today), and check it off the list of "Essentials That I've Experienced." There's Flynn himself; Olivia de Havilland was never lovelier; the Technicolor is of an intensity likely to raise the suspicion that we're getting cheated with other color movies; and Erich Wolfgang Korngold here set the standard for original orchestral soundtracks, one seldom surpassed since.
  14. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    I agree that it makes a kind of sense to see it that way, even if it's not literally true (voters don't confer to decide on comprises). I think it's also true that at that historical moment people wanted to vote for something that saw the possibility of racists getting their consciousness raised. (But in a less retro way that Guess Who's Coming...) As for Doctor Dolittle, "whatever" indeed; several commentators have remarked that in the mid-60s it became a reflex to nominate the big musical blockbuster of the year (even if nobody liked it). (At the same time, I'd maintain that Oliver! winning Best Picture the following year was thoroughly justified; it's a beautifully made film.) I also agree about Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate not holding up over the years all that well. But then I was a traitor to my generation even when The Graduate was new: I remember sitting in a packed college-town theater the first weekend it opened and being the only one not applauding at the end. Apart from the comedic scenes early on, it did nothing for me. But I know I'm in a minority on both, especially among cinemaphiles.
  15. Rinaldo

    TCM: The Greatest Movie Channel

    Thanks again for the tip, @ruby24. There are indeed some technical obstacles in watching, not all of which may be salvageable by restoration (which it does indeed need) -- lighting & color are wildly different in successive shots, some process shots are excessively obvious now (the avalanche near the start), not all the actors are good at "looping" thieir lines after the location shooting, and Bronislau Kaper should have been prevented at gunpoint from slathering "Beautiful Dreamer" all over the soundtrack at every tender moment. But it's an absorbing tale, with only five speaking roles, mostly all trapped together throughout the picture. Yes, an outstanding subtle performance from Robert Ryan (what a great actor he was), and also an entertaining one from Ralph Meeker that provides some contrast to the prevailing earnestness.
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