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Just some thoughts on current happenings: 

 

There are 18 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:

 

The caper film first laid its roots in The Asphalt Jungle previously recommended here. The depth of its characters and their fascinating interactions as the drama builds to a cathartic resolution, is why this film has become one of America's finest cinematic achievements. The 'best laid plans' will be made on TCM Tuesday, August 1 at 6:30am PST.

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

What exactly is film noir? Many enthusiasts and experts continue to debate the subject, with numerous examples of films that should, and just as many that should not, be included in the category. Some, who most likely feel that noir films rely on a certain look, dismiss any colour film as unworthy of being categorised as such. Others, like myself, prone to distinguishing noir by its subject matter, are more inclined to include some of those colour films produced during noir's classic time period, that focus on crime and the psychologies of those involved. This brings me to my next TCM selection, which will also be August's Blu-ray recommendation and forthcoming review, 1953's Niagara, one of the strongest arguments for colour noir that exists. See for yourself on Tuesday, August 1 at 7pm PST.  

 

 

 

 

 

Another of my past TCM recommendations, previously reviewed here, is The Lost Weekend. Billy Wilder's portrayal of a struggling alcoholic contains a powerhouse performance by Ray Milland. The bottle can be found on TCM Wednesday, August 2 at 11pm PST.

 

 

 

 

 

MGM's 1952 musical Singin' in the Rain was not adapted from a stage production, though the film was later turned into one, being first presented on stage in 1983. Its abundant creativity, innovation, and driving energy place this film at the top of all cinematic musicals ever produced. Singin' in the Rain has been reviewed as a past Blu-ray selection here, and will joyously dance its way onto TCM Saturday, August 5 at 5pm PST.

(From left) Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly

(From left) Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

Fans of film noir who haven't seen John Brahm's 1946 The Locket do not want to miss the opportunity to experience this hypnotically mesmerising drama.

Laraine Day

Laraine Day

Laraine Day, Robert Mitchum

Laraine Day, Robert Mitchum

The film’s similarities to Citizen Kane may not be apparent at first. Still, they are fascinating and worth noting. Both films were produced by RKO and are about individuals strongly influenced by childhood experiences sharing a past connection to highly cherished emblematic objects. In addition, the adults in both stories are described in a complex series of flashbacks through the perspectives of those who knew them. 1945’s film noir, a previous recommendation here, is a dream-like cinematic journey crying out to be discovered. The secret surrounding the locket will be revealed Sunday, August 6 (early morning), at 3am PST.  

 

 

 

 

 

TCM is having a centennial tribute to Robert Mitchum (born on August 6, 1917) and later on Sunday there are 2 more films of his worth relishing in. The first was reviewed in Opening Up a Treasure: The Night of the Hunter. He will appear on Sunday, August 6 at 5pm PST.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following The Night of the Hunter is Out of the Past, one of film noir's finest, and most highly recommended here. She will arrive Sunday, August 6 at 7pm PST. 

 

 

 

 

 

Tension suffuses The Bedford Incident, not only in the situational danger at hand, but between various crew members on board a U.S. destroyer patrolling the Greenland/Antarctic waters during the Cold War.

(From left) Martin Balsam, Wally Cox, Sidney Poitier, Richard Widmark

(From left) Martin Balsam, Wally Cox, Sidney Poitier, Richard Widmark

The ship's Captain, Eric Finlander (played with total commitment and aggressive determination by Richard Widmark) is on the lookout for Russian submarines, especially ones that might stray illegally into U.S. territorial waters. He keeps his crew wound tight, on high alert, ready for "the hunt" as well as any confrontation that might ensue. Finlander's unique wartime environment, seemingly embraced by his dedicated underlings, becomes an increasing concern for a doctor (Martin Balsam) and a journalist (Sidney Poitier) newly helicoptered on board. Once he discovers a nuclear armed Russian sub caught where it shouldn't be, Finlander, in a growingly Ahab-like obsessional pursuit, pushes both his crew and his adversary to such extreme levels that even his own most trusted advisors begin insisting he's gone too far. One of Finlander's confidants is former U-boat commander and now West German Navy Commodore Wolfgang Schrepke, authentically portrayed by Eric Portman, almost as if he's channeling his most persuasive Nazi role from 49th Parallel. The complex and highly-charged character interactions here are of vast intelligence, intellectually absorbing and coalesce perfectly with the increasingly suspenseful seafaring standoff, ingeniously juxtaposed throughout this timely tale. Even after this film's stunning conclusion, don't be surprised if you just stare at the screen in shock, not only for what has happened, but for the supreme level of creative multilevel storytelling just witnessed. Credit debut director James B. Harris, (Producer of The Killing, Paths of Glory, and Lolita) and James Poe's adaptation of Mark Rascovich's novel for the superb results. The Bedford Incident is Hidden Gem #32 and will occur on Thursday, August 10 at 11pm PST.      

 

 

 

 

 

Then there's John Ford's masterpiece The Searchers, previously reviewed here. It is Top Ten Western #2 and is as likely as any film to provide one with a truly unforgettable, rich and rewarding movie-watching experience. The search will begin Saturday, August 12 at 7:30pm PST.

Jeffrey Hunter, Natalie Wood

Jeffrey Hunter, Natalie Wood

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday, August 13th, TCM is showing a host of excellent films starring Barbara Stanwyck including The Lady Eve, All I Desire, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Baby Face, and the last of which is probably her least known, but just as worthy of viewing, 1953's Jeopardy, a fabulous Production Code-breaking film noir previously reviewed here. The perilous games will begin Sunday, August 13 (late evening) at 1:45am PST (technically Monday morning).  

Ralph Meeker, Barbara Stanwyck

Ralph Meeker, Barbara Stanwyck

 

 

 

 

 

Director John Sturges, who helmed the previous recommended film noir Jeopardy, made another nifty entry in the genre, 1950's Mystery Street reviewed here. This CSI noir with a Hitchcockian twist can be checked out Tuesday, August 15 at 9pm PST.

(Crossing the street) Marshall Thompson, Jan Sterling

(Crossing the street) Marshall Thompson, Jan Sterling

 

 

 

 

 

1967's Hotel was taken, like 1970's Airport, from a novel by Arthur Hailey, and is the far better crafted of the two films. This proficient and underrated motion picture was previously reviewed here and will open its doors Friday, August 18 at 12:45pm PST.

(From left) Rod Taylor, Richard Conte

(From left) Rod Taylor, Richard Conte

 

 

 

 

 

The expression "Don't judge a book by its cover" certainly applies to the film Kind Lady, a previous TCM recommendation here. She may be as the title says, but her nemesis and his ghastly gang of home invaders will dominate this tensely twisted thriller Saturday, August 19 at 11am PST. 

(From left) Maurice Evans, Ethel Barrymore, Keenan Wynn, Angela Lansbury

(From left) Maurice Evans, Ethel Barrymore, Keenan Wynn, Angela Lansbury

 

 

 

 

 

The challenge between those holding a reputation of being "the fastest" draw had already become a staple of the cinematic western (1950's The Gunfighter with Gregory Peck comes to mind) by the time Mel Brooks made 1974's Blazing Saddles. The famous comedic director parodied the idea when Gene Wilder's notorious gunman states: "Well, it got so that every piss-ant prairie punk who thought he could shoot a gun would ride into town to try out the Waco Kid. I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille. It got pretty gritty. I started to hear the word 'draw' in my sleep. Then one day, I was just walking down the street when I heard a voice behind me say, 'Reach for it, mister!' I spun around... and there I was, face to face with a six-year old kid."

This is also the (albeit deadly serious) dilemma facing George Temple a.k.a. George Kelby, Jr., played appropriately sombre by Glen Ford, in the superb 1956 western The Fastest Gun Alive. George and his wife Dora (a lovingly sincere Jeanne Crain) keep having to leave the various towns they take up residence in when word gets around about how proficient he is with a gun for fear of all those who would challenge him. Their latest home in Cross Creek is also George's best and perhaps final chance to keep his past a secret. 

Glenn Ford

Glenn Ford

The Fastest Gun Alive is, however, unexpectedly far from cliche and distinguishes itself by presenting many unique complications to its familiar premise, while focusing on the main character's tormented soul, effectively increasing the film's suspense, intelligence and engagement. It boasts inventive cinematography by George Folsey, Frank D. Gilroy's lean script based on his short story, and assured direction from Russell Rouse maintaining praiseworthy performances from his cast.

(From left) Noah Beery Jr., John Dehner, Broderick Crawford 

(From left) Noah Beery Jr., John Dehner, Broderick Crawford 

George is bored silly in his latest role as a shopkeeper and has to keep listening to a local resident describe how amazingly fast a bandit, Vinnie Harold (played with typical fast-talking gusto by Broderick Crawford) is on the draw. After getting a few too many drinks in him, George is busting at the seams to show everyone who's really the fastest, but if he does, will severely upset his wife, make precarious their social standing and especially this time, endanger his own and possibly some of the townspeople's lives. Vinnie is a particularly nasty evil-doer whose boastful proclamation of being the fastest draw has become a diabolical obsession and is headed George's way. The dramatic discords merge and come to a head in an enthralling and intense finale, making this film like a fine wine: Bold, mature, and with a strong finish. The Fastest Gun Alive will draw Tuesday, August 22 at 9:15am PST.           

(From left) Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford

(From left) Glenn Ford, Broderick Crawford

TCM's current monthly schedule can be confirmed by clicking on any of the above images. For those who live in parts of the U.S. other than the western region, the time zone can be adjusted in the upper right-hand corner of TCM's programme.

(To Be Continued)      A.G.

21st Century Treasure Quest #14

Normally, our contemporary film contributor Renard N. Bansale reviews recent releases and he may, in fact, critique the following motion picture at some point. Occasionally, I am able to overcome a reluctance to venture out and attend a locally screened film, especially when it's the "talk of the town" or "talk of the internet" to be more precise. I've been bombarded with so much buzz about Dunkirk, I felt like a chainsaw, and therefore it became that rare film I was compelled to see and share my thoughts on. Please feel free to leave your thoughts about the film and/or my review here in the comments section. (A.G.)

A Single Review Special Edition

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21st Century Treasure Quest #13

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 10 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a further introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

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Top Ten Fool's Gold: The Overrated Part 5 Doctor Zhivago

In this series I would like to provide my readers with a more critical perspective to consider, one that hopefully will not detract from a person's appreciation for the films under review. At the same time, I'd question whether these motion pictures really deserve the high accolades bestowed upon them by the critical community in general. Perhaps it's like this: Instead of "The emperor has no clothes," I'm saying "He's just not that well dressed." (For a further introduction on this subject please see: Top Ten Fool's Gold: The Overrated Part 1.)

These notices are meant for viewers familiar with the following motion pictures.

(They will be addressed in alphabetical order.)

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Exploring the Artefacts #14: Jewels of Admiration Part 2 (of 2)

Exploring The Artefacts is a series in which I examine some unique and significant components, or by-products, of cinema storytelling that are often under-appreciated. 

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21st Century Treasure Quest #12

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 10 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a further introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

Read More