"Now Listen to Me..."
Just some thoughts on current happenings:
Classic film screenings from around the world this month include:
In Valencia, Spain, Culturarts Generalitat IVAC – La Filmoteca will be presenting a series of films with contributions by the under-appreciated British screenwriter and director Muriel Box from November 2 - 30. Highlights include The Seventh Veil (1945, Muriel Box co-screenwriter with her husband Sydney Box), Street Corner (1953, aka Both Sides of the Law), To Dorothy, a Son (1954, aka Cash on Delivery), Simon and Laura (1955) and The Passionate Stranger (1957, aka A Novel Affair)… (The last four films she directed). For more information including November’s schedule (in Spanish), click on the image above.
In Atlanta Georgia, The Plaza Theatre will present The Killing on Tuesday, November 6. For more information, click on the image above.
In London, U.K., BFI Southbank as part of a tribute to actress Jane Fonda, will present They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? on Monday, November 12 and again on Thursday, November 15. For details click on the image above.
In Stockholm, Sweden, the Swedish Film Institute will show a 35mm print of Desert Fury on Monday, November 12 as part of their film noir programme. For more information, click on the image above.
Throughout various locations in Australia, Event Cinemas will host Hollywood Classics On the Big Screen. This month's showings will include North by Northwest on Monday, November 12, and Roman Holiday on Monday, November 26.
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 San Francisco, California, the Roxie Theatre will host Mid-Century Production’s 5th annual The French Had a Name For It: French Film Noir - The Frenetic Fifties from November 15 - 21. This festival will feature many rare gems and underappreciated director tributes. For more information, click on the image above.
There are 20 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:
An American cinematic treasure, Double Indemnity stands at the top of noir's hierarchy and has been described as such in Opening Up a Treasure: Double Indemnity. One can "cash in their policy" Friday, November 2 at 9:15am PST.
Another cinematic treasure, this time in the romance category, was also reviewed as described in Opening Up a Treasure: Brief Encounter. Director David Lean's emotionally stirring "encounter" will begin on Friday, November 2 at 11:15am PST.
The next two recommendations are both RKO produced tales about individuals strongly influenced by childhood experiences, as well as being mysteriously connected to emblematic objects. In addition, the adults in both stories are recounted in a complex series of flashbacks through the different perspectives of those who knew them.
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. A previous recommendation here, The Locket is a dream-like journey crying out to be discovered. The locket can be found Friday, November 2 at 3:15pm PST.
Director Howard Hawks was known for his confident, straight-forward westerns like Rio Bravo, El Dorado and Red River, the last mentioned being perhaps his finest. Selected and reviewed as one of the Top Ten (#6) westerns here, the story concerns the opening of the Chisholm Trail, used after the Civil War to drive cattle from Texas to Kansas. John Wayne plays one of his darker, least heroic characters most earnestly. The "drive" will begin on TCM Saturday, November 3 at 5pm PST.
After the dramatic seriousness of the above TCM recommendations, it might be nice to indulge in a light-hearted and charming Christmas holiday treat: Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner.
Beneath an inventive situation comedy veneer, however, there is a serious underlying message concerning relationships and how concepts often get in the way of a more fulfilling union based on care and concern for one another. The Shop Around the Corner, previously praised here, will open Monday, November 5 at 5am PST.
Another Top Ten Western (Red River, above, is #6) is Sam Peckinpah's elegiac Ride the High Country coming in at number 4 on the list here and will ride into TCM territory Tuesday, November 6 at 7:45am PST.
Raoul Walsh's Colorado Territory is the impassioned director's artistically superior western remake of his previous film noir High Sierra. Readers can discover why I make this claim here, and for those familiar with the earlier Humphrey Bogart vehicle, decide for themselves when Colorado Territory is explored Tuesday, November 6 at 9:30am PST.
Rounding out a Joel McCrea triple-header this Tuesday morning is Alfred Hitchcock's dazzling thrill ride, Foreign Correspondent (reviewed here), whose precarious globe trotting assignment will begin Tuesday, November 6 at 11:30am PST.
A few of you may have heard about my next recommendation: 1944's Academy Award Best Picture Winner Casablanca. This choice may come as a surprise to readers more familiar with my past articles since it is included on a list of overrated films and reviewed here. There is no denying the fact that Casablanca casts a magical spell and is certainly capable of sweeping one up in its appealing blend of romance, sacrifice and political intrigue. Besides, for those who haven't seen it or seen it enough, how are they to know if my criticisms are sound? This 1942 classic, one of Hollywood's proudest, airs Tuesday, November 6 at 5pm PST.
Following Casablanca, TCM will show 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 on TCM Tuesday, November 6 at 7pm PST.
Although my next selection was released in 1934, every single one of its scenes is hilarious and relatable to today’s domestic life. W.C. Fields’ most perfect comedy, It’s a Gift, previously reviewed here, will arrive Thursday, November 8 at 7:15am PST.
Years before director Martin Scorsese’s Christ dealt with earthly temptations, Luis Bunuel’s ascetic Simon of the Desert struggled with his personal devilish desires, although neither cinematic deity could be presented in a more comparatively diverse manner.
1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ has a reverential approach to its admittedly speculative subject matter, whereas Bunuel’s 1965 film, even though his character is based on 5th century Saint Simeon Stylites, imparts the director’s customary satirical outlook over his religious imaginings. Simon of the Desert was meant to be a feature length film, but due to an unexpected financial shortage, finished up at 45 minutes. Despite Simon of the Desert’s brevity and sudden sardonic conclusion, this is the famed director’s mini masterpiece: a wildly surrealistic pilgrimage of wit, clarity and vision. Simon’s miraculous deeds and desert temptations will appear on TCM Sunday, November 11 at (late evening) 2:15am PST.
Simon of the Desert is also November’s DVD pick of the month. See the last entry in this column for more details.
One of cinema’s most quintessential performances by an actress can be seen in 1947’s Possessed by the film’s star Joan Crawford. Crawford’s thorough commitment is bolstered by the actress, along with the film’s director Curtis Bernhardt, having visited several psychiatric hospitals observing patients and interviewing doctors regarding the script’s authenticity. Possessed is a prior TCM recommendation here, and can be thoroughly absorbed Tuesday, November 13 at 9am PST.
Perfectly appropriate for the romantically inclined is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. This film’s 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 Thursday, November 15 at 7am PST.
After her breakthrough role in Joseph von Sternberg's The Blue Angel made in Germany, Marlene Dietrich made six more films with the autocratic director in the U.S. The Scarlet Empress previously reviewed here, is arguably the duo’s most accomplished. Certainly this film is their most distinctive. She will rule Friday, November 16 at 7am PST.
Stanley Kubrick took the entire film community, along with noir fans, by (a perfect) storm with his innovative 1956 take on the caper genre, The Killing previously recommended here. The Killing will take place in Eddie Muller’s Noir Alley Saturday, November 24 at 9:45pm PST and again on Sunday, November 25 at 7am PST.
Another one of film noir's most brilliant "must see" representatives is Fritz Lang's The Big Heat, previously recommended here. TCM will heat up Thursday, November 29 at 9:15pm PST.
Finally, it’s the pre-code charmer Blonde Crazy that we’re crazy about. This recommendation was previously made here. The 'con' is on TCM Friday, November 30 at 2pm 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.
This month’s Happy Birthday shout-out goes to Italian actress, entrepreneur and fashion designer Simonetta Stefanelli, best known for her naturally understated performance as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone in 1972’s The Godfather, (pictured). She turns 64 on November 30th.
Before her striking appearance in the iconic gangster saga, Stefanelli had small supporting roles in numerous Italian films including Non commettere atti impuri (Do Not Commit Adultery), Homo Eroticus, and In nome del popolo italiano (In the Name of the Italian People). Notable performances after The Godfather include the miniseries Moses the Lawgiver (1974), Three Brothers (1983), and her final film before leaving the acting profession, Close Friends (1992). Stefanelli, last reportedly, owns and operates a fashion store in Rome called Simo Bloom, where she designs her own fashion accessories.
November's Soundtrack recommendation is Jerry Goldsmith's lusciously thematic score to 1999's The Mummy.
Jerry’s score is really this film’s most proficient and memorable component, adding gravitas to what would otherwise be an overblown CGI romp in the desert. Intrada’s very special 2 CD limited edition contains the famed composer’s mammoth orchestral score augmented with chorus, standing front and centre in the film while providing a smashing listening experience on its own. This newly expanded premiere set contains thunderous action cues and gorgeous romantic motifs much of which can be heard separately for the first time. For soundtrack enthusiasts, it’s a must have! More information can be seen by clicking on the soundtrack image.
Speaking of the desert, the DVD pick of the month is the above reviewed Luis Bunuel film Simon of the Desert available from Criterion (North America Region 1). More information including ordering from Amazon.com can be obtained by clicking on the image.