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Just some thoughts on current happenings:

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Happy New Year Everyone!





Classic film screenings from around the world this month include:


In Minneapolis, Minnesota The Minnesota Orchestra will present Star Wars: A New Hope with live musical accompaniment featuring John Williams’ spectacular score on January 3, 4, 5 and 6. Click on the above image for more information.



In Melbourne, Australia The Australian Centre For Moving Image will present “Mad Men & Wilder Women: Focus on Billy Wilder” from Friday, January 4 to Wednesday, January 16. The films to be presented are The Apartment, Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, The Seven Year Itch and Love in the Afternoon. For details, click on the image above.



In Los Angeles, California The Beverly Cinema will present a double bill of 2 private eye films of the ‘60s Harper (1966) and the still unreleased on home video P.J. (1968). Both films (I.B. Technicolor 35mm prints) will be shown Wednesday, January 9 and Thursday, January 10. For more information, including the entire month of January’s exciting programme, click on either of the above 2 images.

In Paris, France The Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé will present William Wyler’s 1929 comedy The Shakedown January 9 and 29. Click on the above image for more information.



In Stockholm, Sweden, The Swedish Film Institute Cinemateket will show Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s No Way Out on Friday, January 11. For more information, click on the image above.


In Los Angeles, California The American Cinematheque as a tribute to the late director Nicolas Roeg, will present a double feature of Walkabout followed by The Man Who Fell to Earth with an introduction to the latter by that film’s cinematographer Tony Richmond on Thursday, January 17. For details, click on the image above.

In Praha (Prague), Czech Republic The Czech National Symphony Orchestra will present Jaws with live musical accompaniment featuring John Williams’ iconic score on January 23. Click on the above image for more information.


Noir City will take place in San Francisco, California from January 25 - February 3. Highlights will include 1949’s Trapped, the latest restoration project of the Film Noir Foundation. The restored film will have its world premiere on Friday, January 25. Other “must see” presentations are the rare showings of 1951’s The Well on Saturday, January 26 and 1956’s The Scarlet Hour on Wednesday, January 30. For more information including the complete schedule, click on the image above.


In theatres across the U.S., TCM and Fathom Events are presenting The Wizard of Oz on January 27, 29 and 30. Click on the above image for more information.



There are some thoughts I’d like to share regarding the recent Golden Globe Awards ceremony including the show's rather seismic aftershocks. My comments will not include the awards themselves since I haven't watched any of the nominated films. (Actually, this is quite unusual as normally I'd have seen at least a few. It seems my attendance to current films has become an act of diminished importance).

Golden Globe hosts Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg

Golden Globe hosts Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg

Elsie Fisher, nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for her performance in  Eighth Grade

Elsie Fisher, nominated for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for her performance in Eighth Grade

Twitter is abuzz with reactions to not only the Golden Globe award choices but the surrounding events’ every other conceivable implication. The hysteria finally came to a head when 15 year old actress Elsie Fisher was admonished for having tweeted how happy she was that Rami Malek and Bohemian Rhapsody won awards. (The flack apparently came from those who felt that the filmmakers had glossed over Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury’s homosexuality. This claim, plus rumours of director Bryan Singer’s history of sexual assault made for these protestors, the biopic’s win undeserved). 

Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais

I believe that the Golden Globe show's organisers are partly to blame for these kinds of absurd reactions by enabling the current p.c. climate. They've created an atmosphere that's so loud and proud of their new attitude toward embracing everyone and everything conceivably slighted, no industry person can make a positive or negative remark about, or poke fun at, anything specific without incurring some immediate overly critical and wrong-headed backlash. Elsie Fisher's oddly apologetic response (having no clue as to what she did wrong) is just another indication of the fear that's currently suffocating Hollywood’s creative expression. The award hosts' material was as bland, innocuous and sterile as the flu shots they handed out. Some of the recipients’ endless platitudes were mind-numbing. Others, associated with Bohemian Rhapsody, despite a typical long list of “thanks”, seemed to have conveniently forgotten the controversial film director’s name. What a contrast to the Golden Globe shows Ricky Gervais hosted, eh? (Here’s an example from January 2016). To be fair, there were some award winners who managed to break through the p.c. barrier either with an abundance of class (Jeff Bridges, Carol Burnett) or by throwing caution to the wind (Christian Bale).

It's not just the Golden Globe producers who are worried about their image. Practically all of the high profile award shows (BAFTA being a notable exception) have become so concerned about maintaining or elevating a proper public perception, they've tried to re-write history, acting like the artists accused of a crime, or other impropriety, had nothing to do with their previously acclaimed works, and of course never will! What does the quality of a film have to do with any of this? Why not leave these kinds of contentious, possibly illegal acts to various watchdog groups or the justice system where they belong? In addition, they've placed so much importance on “equality” re gender, race, sexual preference etc., the trophies might as well be handed out for one of those reasons, even better if the grateful honouree can boast of belonging to a combination of discriminated-against affiliations. The quality of the work itself seems to have become even more irrelevant than it already was.

Image has always been important to many Hollywood insiders (dress, plastic surgery, career choices, etc.) but this is ridiculous: celebrities claiming they wish they hadn't worked with so and so, switching allegiances like TV channels, or how about some of these award recipients' gushing gratitude over the collective freedom from oppression their prize represents? Finally, there are those reactionaries, celebrities or celebrity wannabes who add fuel to the fire by making news over nothing or by adding political divisiveness to the issue at hand for their own aggrandisement or crusade. Political correctness is no longer, if it ever was, about conservative versus liberal, loyalty to a person or belief, or telling the plain and simple truth. Image rules for the p.c. police and therefore knows no bounds.  





There are 12 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month: 



"Complaining about the far-fetched circumstances in films noir is like objecting to the lack of realism in a Picasso painting. What I mean is that lovers of these criminally rich cinematic delights oughtn’t to bother picking out the implausibilities, since it is practically a hallmark of noir's style."

I've written this before when introducing Split Second, a film noir that presents some rather unlikely occurring situations and it certainly applies to this month’s first recommendation as well, one starring Humphrey Bogart: Dark Passage. This wildly engrossing yarn combines the best of romance with the best of noir in the best location for both: San Francisco. Previously endorsed as a Blu-Ray release here, Bogart will make his dark passage on TCM Monday, January 7 at 8am PST. 


Anthony Mann’s low-budget, up close and personal foray into the war genre is an artistic triumph of the highest order, 1957’s Men in War, previously reviewed here. One can see action Tuesday, January 8 at 12:30pm PST.

(From left) Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray

(From left) Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray

Despite a rather familiar premise, the supremely talented creators of this melodrama were able to deliver a storyline that is mature, sophisticated and genuinely heartfelt. Previously reviewed here, Now, Voyager will set sail Thursday, January 10 at 1pm PST. 

In my previous editorial on the Golden Globe awards, I wrote about the organisers’ emphasis on political correctness promoting a general fear in Hollywood over saying or doing the “wrong” thing. What one will probably realise and right from the start, is that no such worry exists for Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Howard Keel

Howard Keel

In 1850 Oregon, backwoodsman Adam Pontipee goes into town searching for a wife as if she’s just another item on his shopping list. On top of that he sings the show’s first song “Bless Your Beautiful Hide” as he objectively looks over the various female townspeople. No one at this point can have any doubt over this musical’s total lack of concern about offending anyone’s sense of gender equality, which is about to become the story’s engaging and most enjoyable subject matter.

Russ Tamblyn, Jane Powell

Russ Tamblyn, Jane Powell

Plenty of other “battle of the sexes” related surprises are in store but like the opening, are met with enough resolute female opposition to make up for the purposely overdrawn and satirically funny male chauvinism on display. There are, in addition, some other not so obvious human complexities hidden in this musical’s libretto so stay tuned! And don’t be a sourpuss. After all, this is a musical with catchy songs and outrageous dance numbers: all unforgettable. Even the painted backdrops can be part of the fun, as long as viewers don’t mind extending a bit more “suspension of disbelief.” I mean, wouldn’t we be doing that anyway when characters suddenly burst into song and dance? And what songs! And what dance! (Both bear repeating). How could it have been otherwise with Michael Kidd choreographing to the strength of each dancer’s style, Stanley (Singin’ in the Rain) Donen’s virtuoso direction and cinematographer George Folsey’s stunning visual compositions? Oh, and did I mention the songs? They’re real humdingers, courtesy of Saul Chaplin and Gene de Paul’s music with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. So join bigger than life Howard Keel as Adam and Jane Powell as his diminutive but even more determined new bride Milly as their married life bubbles burst when the enchanting Seven Brides for Seven Brothers arrive on TCM (updated) Thursday, May 9 at 1:15pm 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.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is also January’s Blu-ray pick of the month. See the last entry in this column for more details.  





"And then I saw her - coming out of the sun. And I knew why Whit didn't care about that 40 grand.

Out of the Past, is one of film noir's finest and most highly recommended here. She will arrive Monday, January 14 at 8:45pm PST. 

Another film noir with a central character whose emotions have apparently consumed his common sense and compromised his moral integrity is The Prowler, previously reviewed here. Be on TCM’s watch Saturday, January 19 at 10:45am PST.

Evelyn Keyes, Van Heflin

Evelyn Keyes, Van Heflin

Those unfamiliar with filmmaker Gordon Parks' autobiographical debut film The Learning Tree do not want to miss this touching coming of age story. The film was previously lauded, along with its creator Parks, in an article entitled: Exploring the Artefacts #5: The Alchemist. Included are some clips of Parks' music compositions for The Learning Tree and Shaft's Big ScoreThe Learning Tree can be studied Monday, January 21 at 1pm PST. 

Alex Clarke

Alex Clarke

A criminal's mother-fixated pathology and the undercover cop trying to catch him are the topics of an undisputed film noir, White Heat, a previous recommendation here. TCM's screen will heat up Saturday, January 26 at 9:30am PST.

(From left) James Cagney, Edmond O'Brien

(From left) James Cagney, Edmond O'Brien



Don't miss Nicholas Ray's intensive study of a most unusually disturbed character, In a Lonely Place with Humphrey Bogart perfectly cast as Dixon Steele whose unpredictable explosions of anger make him a prime suspect for the killing of a young ingénue. This highly probative film noir, previously recommended here, will arrive Sunday, January 27 at 6:45pm PST.

There's no better way to celebrate actor Steve McQueen’s most iconic characterisations than by witnessing his titular Bullitt, reviewed here. Bullitt will speed its way onto TCM Monday, January 28 at 7pm PST. 

My next TCM recommendation is a light-hearted and charming treat: Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner.

James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan

James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan

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 Tuesday, January 29 at 1:45pm PST.

MGM's 1952 musical Singin' in the Rain was not adapted from a theatrical 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 musicals ever produced. Singin' in the Rain has been previously reviewed as a Blu-ray selection here and will dance its way onto TCM Thursday, January 31 at 8:45pm 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 one of the most gifted and dedicated actors in the business, Gene Hackman, who turns 89 on January 30th.

“I was trained to be an actor, not a star. I was trained to play roles, not to deal with fame and agents and lawyers and the press.”

“I was trained to be an actor, not a star. I was trained to play roles, not to deal with fame and agents and lawyers and the press.”

Gene Hackman’s role in the Broadway play "Any Wednesday" led to his film debut (a small role) in Lilith (1964) starring Warren Beatty. A few years later, Beatty the star/producer of Bonnie and Clyde (1967) cast Hackman as Buck Barrow, Clyde’s brother, earning the actor an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Since then the consummate actor has made incalculable contributions to a host of fine films including The Split (1974), The Gypsy Moths (1969), Downhill Racer (1969), Marooned (1969), I Never Sang for My Father (1970, and another A.A. nomination for Best Supporting Actor), The French Connection (1971, and an A.A. winning performance as Best Actor in a Leading Role), Scarecrow (1973), The Conversation (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974), Night Moves (1975), Superman (1978), Under Fire (1983), Mississippi Burning (1988, and another A.A. nomination for Best Actor), Unforgiven (1992, and another AA win for Best Supporting Actor), The Firm (1993), The Quick and the Dead (1995), Heist (2001) and Runaway Jury (2003, and the first time working on a film with friend, former fellow roommate and struggling actor Dustin Hoffman). Gene Hackman’s last film before announcing his retirement was Welcome to Mooseport (2004).

January's Soundtrack recommendation is John Williams' sensational score to 1986's Space Camp.

Williams is able to conjure up a celestial musical feast replete with his signature thematic harmonies masterfully interwoven throughout the exploratory sounds of outer space. This C.D. is an absolute must in any library of inspired soundtracks, even more so for fans of the composer. The Intrada reissue is, as of this writing, still available (by clicking on the image) so act fast.






This month’s recommended Blu-ray is to the above reviewed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Region Free) from Warner Archive which can be ordered from Amazon.com in the U.S. by clicking on the image.

A.G.