"Now Listen To Me..."
Just some thoughts on current happenings:
Long before the internet came along, film lovers searched high and low for any information, feedback or opinion, anything they could find that would help them decide which movies to watch on television. Sadly and quietly, one of the forefathers of movie rating guides passed away a little over a month ago:
Steven H. Scheuer (January 9, 1926 – May 31, 2014) a prominent TV and film critic has died age 88. He produced World: Comm and The Television Annual: 1978/1979 and was editor of Movies on TV, the first book of its kind (originally titled TV Movie Almanac and Ratings), published between 1958 and 1993. This pocket reference was totally indispensable to film lovers and preceded Leonard Maltin's popular guide by about a decade. Scheuer also wrote The Movie Book: A Comprehensive, Authoritative, Omnibus Volume on Motion Pictures and the Cinema World in 1974.
Paul Mazursky (April 25, 1930 - June 30, 2014), the immensely talented director and actor has died age 84. His first directorial feature was Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. He went on to direct Down and Out in Beverly Hills and the hidden gem Blume in Love, an insightful character study that managed to artfully balance compelling drama with graceful humour. He gave dedicated performances in many films such as Into the Night and popular television series like The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
There are two recommended video releases this month. Both are Blu-Rays scheduled for release on July 8th.
The first is a highly stylized, almost trance-induced expression of a cold, violent, machine-like man on a mission. Its hypnotic hold over us comes in part from the fact that we're not really sure if the protagonist (the aptly named Walker, persuasively played by Lee Marvin) is really still alive or just imagining things in his dying moments. Either way, John Boorman's Point Blank is just like its title: Precise, captivating and unforgettable. This post-noir classic is available on a stunning region-free Blu-Ray from Warner Bros Home Video.
Then there's Max Ophuls' brilliant noir Caught. This compelling character and relationship study delves deeply into a slowly deteriorating marriage between its heroine, the lonely car-hop Leonora Eames (sensitively portrayed by Barbara Bel Geddes) and her newly-wedded husband Smith Ohlrig (a megalomaniac millionaire perfectly tailored for Robert Ryan). Its style combines the best of a Douglas Sirk melodrama with an Orson Welles flair for dark and disturbing narrative surprises. It is a moderately satisfying transfer of this 1949 film, and well worth having on Blu-Ray, from Olive Films (Region A locked).
Pictures and info on both of the above Blu-Rays plus other new releases can be found on The Cinema Cafe's Pinterest Board. To purchase either title from Amazon U.S., simply click on the above corresponding image.
For July, the recommended CD Soundtrack is Alfred Newman's dynamically driven score to the film Airport. This CD has long been out of print, but is now currently available on the Japanese MCA label from Screen Archives Entertainment. It can be ordered by clicking on the image. Screen Archives ships worldwide.
There are two recommendations for those enjoying Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this July:
The first is the suspenseful Barbara Stanwyck noir Jeopardy (and no, Alex Trebek is not in it). Stanwyck is sensational and so are her co-stars, Barry Sullivan as her husband in peril and Ralph Meeker as a killer on the run. Its premise is fascinating, and it only gets more intense as it continues towards the ending, which comes as a surprise considering it was made during the production code. I've mentioned this John Sturges directed psychological thriller in an article called: Exploring the Artifacts #3: Code Breakers. It is scheduled to air on TCM Wednesday July 16 at 9:30 am PST. Confirmation can be checked by clicking on the image.
Then there's Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece: The exquisite romantic-comedy Smiles of a Summer Night, one of the finest motion pictures ever made (listed in my Top Ten: World Cinema Treasures). This is scheduled to show on TCM Monday July 28 at 5:00 pm PST. TCM's programming for the month can be viewed by clicking on the image.