"Now Listen to Me..."
Just some thoughts on current happenings:
Classic film screenings from around the world this month include:
In Las Vegas, Nevada, The Las Vegas Philharmonic will present Psycho with live musical accompaniment on October 6 at 7:30pm. Click on the image for more information.
Noir City will take place in Washington D.C. from October 12 -25. Highlights include both versions of The Killers: Robert Siodmak's 1946 classic and Don Siegel's 1964 remake, the Film Noir Foundation’s latest restoration The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950) and Paramount's new digital restoration of Byron Haskin's I Walk Alone (1948). For more information including the complete schedule, click on the image to the left above.
In theatres across the U.S., TCM and Fathom Events are presenting Bullitt (as part of the film’s 50th Anniversary) on October 7 and 9, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, October 14 and 17 and Night of the Living Dead (1968, also celebrating its 50th Anniversary, restored and remastered) on October 24 and 25. Click on the respective image for more information.
In Liverpool, United Kingdom, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will present On the Waterfront with live musical accompaniment on October 13 at 7:30pm and Psycho on October 31 at 7:30pm. For more information, click on either of the images above.
In Santa Monica, California, The American Cinematheque Aero Theatre will present, in conjunction with this month’s tribute to Orson Welles, a double feature of The Magnificent Ambersons (a 35mm print) and The Lady from Shanghai October 13 starting at 7:30pm. For more information (including October’s calendar for both The Cinematheque in Hollywood and Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre) click on the above image.
Throughout various locations in Australia, Event Cinemas will host Cult Film Classics In The House. This month's showings will include The Thing (1982) on Monday, October 15 and Wednesday, October 17 and a double bill of The Blob (1988) and Evil Dead II on Monday, October 22 and Wednesday October 24.
For a list of the theatres hosting these films, and their complete schedule throughout the rest of the year, click on the image above.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, The Cinematheque will be presenting a new restoration of Wanda on October 19, 20, 22 and 25. In addition, as part of a special Halloween tribute to Dario Argento, a 4K restoration of the uncut, uncensored version of Suspiria will be shown October 26 (including an introduction by Sonja Baksa, a Vancouver-based film curator), 27 and 28. Click on either image for more information.
There are 18 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:
Cinema enthusiasts may consider that, in the films of Robert Altman, it seems many of the characters’ purpose is simply not to have one. This noticeable element supports the director’s improvisational cinéma-vérité style, and occasional subversive and irreverent temperament. Nowhere is this attitude of indifference more apparent than in the director’s 1974 film California Split.
Altman’s favoured leading actor, Elliott Gould (M*A*S*H, The Long Goodbye) is here charismatically paired with George Segal. They play a couple of evidently compulsive gamblers but mysteriously without the level of commitment, motivation or goal typically ascribed to such storytelling subjects. And yet, gambling can be seen to be their only interest. They gamble on everything, everywhere, even the names of the Seven Dwarfs. It looks as though Altman has jettisoned the serious intent behind producer/screenwriter Joseph Walsh’s personal chronicle of gambling addiction in creating this chaotic, rambling, yet wholly engaging and spontaneously funny motion picture. California Split is mostly absent of plot and character development. Adding to the disorder are some disconnected scenes, a focus on incidental characters and situations, overlapping dialogue, all of which are Altman trademarks. There is at the conclusion, however, an epiphanic moment on behalf of one of our gambling duo that lends worth and solemnity to the proceedings. One may not be positive as to exactly what that character’s realisation is, but it’s honest, mentally stimulating and signifies a journey’s end (when admittedly we didn’t know we were on one). The ‘California Split’ will occur Saturday, October 6 at 11pm PST.
*Note: The film, released in the U.S. on a 2004 DVD, had music rights issues. This meant that Sony/Columbia had to exclude almost three minutes of footage and make several soundtrack changes. Let’s hope TCM airs the original theatrical release.
From the same director who brought us Citizen Kane comes another kind of cinematic hero (of sorts). Michael O'Hara, like the deeply flawed Kane, is flawlessly played by his creator Orson Welles. Unlike Citizen Kane however, this film fell under its producer Harry Cohn's butchery with considerable footage lost and destroyed forever. Nevertheless, what survives is vastly entertaining and not to be missed. The Lady from Shanghai was previously recommended here and will arrive at TCM Tuesday, October 9 at 7pm PST.
My next TCM recommendation comes with a caveat: If you haven't as yet seen this film, please do so *before* reading my review. Doctor Zhivago is the latest in a series of Top Ten Fool's Gold: The Overrated and will be shown Wednesday, October 10 at 1:30pm PST.
TCM's next must see film, especially for crime aficionados, is Straight Time.
This is Hidden Gem #51 and benefits greatly from its strong authenticity due to having been made from ex-con Edward Bunker's novel, the author's participation in writing the screenplay and consultation during production. Plus, director Ulu Grosbard provides his customarily derived natural performances from an incredible ensemble cast (chosen by the film's star Dustin Hoffman). The prisoner is being released on TCM Friday, October 12 at 7:15pm PST.
Rarely does an atmosphere of such overpowering dread subsume a cinematic story so completely as it does in 1943's The Seventh Victim.
A young woman (portrayed as a fetching innocent by Kim Hunter) goes searching for her missing sister (enigmatically played by Jean Brooks) in New York City's Greenwich Village and stumbles upon a satanic cult of devil worshipers putting both of their lives at risk. Mark Robson, who directed a number of these Val Lewton produced gems is himself at the peak of his considerable creative powers. This devilishly striking combination of horror and film noir was a previous TCM recommendation and reviewed here. The fate of both sisters will be determined Saturday, October 13 at 11:15am PST.
Here's a short clip: Eerily foreshadowing the shower scene from Hitchcock's Psycho.
TCM will once again be presenting The Best Years of Our Lives, an incisive look into how each of three returning servicemen adapt to civilian life at home, after World War II. Previously, I highly praised The Best Years of Our Lives for its exceptional musical score composed by Hugo Friedhofer in the first part of a series entitled Top Ten: Motion Picture Music Treasures. This emotionally powerful tour de force will commence Sunday, October 14 at 12:30pm PST.
Later on Sunday, another WWII veteran will turn the day bad for some inhabitants of Black Rock in Bad Day at Black Rock, 1955's modern-day take on the American Western and previously reviewed here. This exceptional suspense-thriller will begin Sunday, October 14 at 3:30pm PST.
Fortunately for TCM subscribers, around this time of year, the cable channel tends to pay a visit to The Old Dark House, a previous recommendation made last October here. This is one house inspection you don’t want to miss, Wednesday, October 17 at 5pm 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 Thursday, October 18 at 7pm PST.
For those who enjoy the best in creative romantic comedy, be sure to stay tuned for Pillow Talk (reviewed here) Thursday, October 18 at 9pm PST.
TCM has scheduled a rather obscure film well worth seeing. It's Hidden Gem #54 Patterns with dynamite performances from an exceptional cast, especially the three male leads: Van Heflin, Ed Begley and Everett Sloane, who all exhibit voracious appetites for their dynamic Rod (The Twilight Zone) Serling created parts. The dramatic fireworks are set to go off Saturday, October 20 at 5pm PST.
1948's The Hunted is a little-known noir, engrossing and distinguished for its mature focus on an almost ruined relationship between a female parolee, steadfastly denying involvement in a jewel robbery, and the hardened cop who turned her in.
There’s also a mystery that envelopes these two as to whether this female protagonist (smartly underplayed by real-life ice skating champ Belita) actually committed the crime in question and will make good on a supposed threat to kill those responsible for putting her away, including the weathered cop (suitably cast with Preston Foster). Further intrigue occurs later when her lawyer (the other person she blames for being sent to prison) winds up dead and our fallen angel takes it on the lam. The Hunted has a bevy of noir trademarks: hard boiled dialogue, treacherous deeds, duplicitous characters, deadly atmospherics and plot surprises aplenty, care of Steve Fisher’s original screenplay and Jack ‘Decoy’ Bernhard’s assured direction. What elevates this film most of all, however, is the highly-charged, revealing and thoughtful exploration of trust, perfectly integrated into the extreme noir-like adversities that continue to assail our couple and test their still simmering feelings for one another. Noir fans should catch The Hunted in Eddie Muller’s Noir Alley Saturday, October 20 at 9pm PST or on Sunday, October 21 at 7am PST. Oh, and watch for a small cameo by noir tough guy Charles McGraw! **The Hunted is also October’s DVD recommendation. See this last column’s entry for more details.
Also scheduled on Sunday is one of horror's finest: the chilling Eyes Without a Face previously reviewed here. One can see with their own eyes this genre masterwork Sunday, October 21 at 11:30pm PST.
Although many have compared the re-make unfavourably to a previous version released a decade earlier, 1941's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has many attributes as well including a noir-like focus on the title physician's more beastly and repressed thoughts and desires. This former TCM recommendation has been reviewed here. The psychological terror will begin Saturday, October 27 at 11:15am PST.
Perfectly appropriate for the romantically inclined is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Its sublime depiction of supernatural romance is enhanced by the intelligence and maturity of the artists who guide us through a profound exploration of love's true nature and spiritual acceptance. It has previously been recommended here. The romance will commence Saturday, October 27 at 5pm PST.
In the U.K. town of Midwich, strange children with mysterious origins are behaving badly. Find out just how bad when the chilling Village of the Damned, previously reviewed here, airs Monday, October 29 at 8:45am PST.
Next on my list of films to watch is King Kong (1933), who's scheduled to make his grand entrance on Tuesday, October 30 at 1:15pm PST. I have reviewed this film with a focus on its musical score here.
My final recommendation is one of Britain's and the horror genre's finest: Dead of Night previously reviewed here. The "recurring dream" will begin again Wednesday, October 31 at 3pm PST.
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.
A Happy Birthday shout-out to the talented actor Ron Rifkin, who turns 79 on October 31st. He is probably best known to television viewers for his prominent character Arvin Sloane in the TV series Alias (2001 - 2006) and to film goers for playing D.A. Ellis Loew in L.A. Confidential (1997). More devoted cinema enthusiasts may recall his impressive roles in Silent Running (1972), The Big Fix (1978), Husbands and Wives (1992), The Negotiator (1998), The Sum of All Fears (2002) and perhaps most memorably, the cult hit Boiler Room (2000). He also appeared in the latest remake of A Star is Born (2018).
The Soundtrack recommendation this month is Bernard Herrmann’s emotionally consuming score to Vertigo released on the Varese Sarabande label.
This is perhaps the most integral music ever composed for the screen, as vital to the film’s mesmerising effect as any other contribution, perhaps even more so. Presented on CD is the original music (in stereo) as heard in the film and for anyone who appreciates the romantically inspired classics, in both cinema and music, an indisputable addition to either library. Vertigo’s soundtrack is currently available from Screen Archives Entertainment. More information can be obtained by clicking on the image.
October's DVD selection is the previously reviewed The Hunted, released by Warner Home Archive. One can receive additional information and order from Amazon.com in the U.S. by clicking on the accompanying image.