"Now Listen to Me..."
Just some thoughts on current happenings:
First off, my best wishes to all for a most enjoyable and happy New Year!
There are 3 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:
The first is Marcel Carne's masterpiece and one of Cinema's greatest artistic achievements, Children of Paradise (Les enfants du paradis).
(See: Top Ten World Cinema Treasures). This is an epic romantic tale of conflicting desires and sacrifice. Its spellbinding power can be most fully realised after viewers have seen the film. That's because of the filmmakers' masterfully hypnotic hold over us as we watch these remarkable characters develop during their increasingly compelling interactions. This cinematic treasure airs Sunday, January 4 at 11pm PST in its original full length: 190 minutes.
Then we have the somewhat obscure western Gunman's Walk.
The central character, a most respected and powerful rancher, played superbly by Van Heflin, has two sons (actors James Darren and Tab Hunter) who both test their father's resolve in extremely different ways. How Heflin chooses to handle the difficult situations that arise makes for a most enthralling viewing experience. This may have been made as a "B western" but rises in stature because of Phil Karlson's tightly controlled direction, Frank S. Nugent's intelligent script and the three expert lead performances. So far unavailable on DVD in the U.S., this superb noirish-western airs in its original widescreen glory on TCM Wednesday, January 14 at 9pm PST.
Finally, there is Gordon Parks' autobiographical film debut 1969's The Learning Tree. I have written about this extraordinary film in a tribute to its multi-talented writer, director and composer here: Exploring the Artifacts #5. This beautiful film is scheduled to air on TCM Monday, January 19 at 12:45pm PST.
TCM's current schedule can be confirmed by clicking on any of the above images.
The Soundtrack recommendation for this month is Intrada's definitive version of Bernard Herrmann's muscular and sensational music composed to Alfred Hitchcock's wildly entertaining North by Northwest.
More information can be obtained on this thrilling score by clicking on the image.
This month's video recommendation is Stanley Kubrick's 1956 auspicious film noir The Killing,
a gutsy and stylish noir that's captivating in the original way it moves back and forth through time, a strong narrative device copied by Tarantino and others. An omniscient, hard-talking narrator introduces a distinctive array of strong macho guys planning a unique and perfect heist while Marie Windsor's ubiquitous femme-fatale tries to listen in. Writer Jim Thompson's tough as shoe leather dialogue is speedily delivered by Sterling Hayden as the caper's imposing mastermind. All of the characters are shown to have motive, the very cornerstone of noir. It has a bar fight staged by a chess playing Russian wrestler/philosopher (Kola Kwariani) and a double-cross planned by a cocky adulterer (Vince Edwards). There's a horse assassination performed by the weird Timothy Carey who at times oddly speaks through clenched teeth, a crooked cop in debt (Ted de Corsia), and a henpecked husband (Elisha Cook Jr.) who comes out blasting. Hayden performs a one-man stick up with a mask and a shotgun, with all the loot thrown out a window, acting on a timetable to the beat of Gerald Fried's maniacal music which is itself a total blast. It has palpable suspense, especially at the airport... plenty of surprises. There's humour in the scenes between Cook and Windsor playing a couple from hell whose relationship seemingly can't get any worse, but does. In short, everything that's right for the current lack of attention crowd who expect classic films to lack excitement. It's exhilarating and inspired storytelling: the perfect introduction to noir for those who think that the current crime wave is the only cinema worth watching. The stunning Blu-ray, widescreen and with lossless sound for the first time on video, has been issued by Criterion in the U.S. and is Region A locked. As a supplement, the package sports the inclusion of a restored high-definition digital transfer of Stanley Kubrick’s 1955 noir feature Killer’s Kiss. Movie watching doesn't get any better than this. To order from Amazon U.S. simply click on the image below.