"Now Listen to Me..."
Just some thoughts on current happenings:
Classic film screenings from around the world this month include:
For a list of the theatres hosting these films, and their complete schedule throughout the first half of the year, click on the banner image above.
In addition, throughout various locations in Australia, Event Cinemas will present Alien on Monday, April 8 and Monty Python’s The Life of Brian Thursday, April 18.
For a theatre nearest to your preferred location, click on the respective poster image.
In Reykjavík, Iceland Harpa and The Iceland Symphony Orchestra will present Star Wars: A New Hope with live musical accompaniment featuring John Williams’ memorable score on Wednesday, April 3, Thursday April 4 and Friday, April 5. Click on the above image for more information.
In San Francisco, California Midcentury Productions and The Roxie Theatre will present The Curtain Rises (Entree des Artistes) on Thursday, April 4 and Saturday, April 6. For more information, click on the above banner.
In Los Angeles, California The Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival will return to Hollywood for its 10th edition April 11 - 14. This year's theme is “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies.” Highlights include Dark Passage and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg on Thursday, April 11, Broadway Danny Rose, A Patch of Blue, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans and Road House (1948) on Friday, April 12, A Woman Under the Influence, Nashville and Waterloo Bridge (1931) on Saturday, April 13 and The Defiant Ones, The Killers (1964) and The Godfather Part II on Sunday, April 14… plus so many more exciting films and events for cinema enthusiasts! Click on the above banner for the complete schedule and further information.
In Bristol, United Kingdom Watershed Arts Trust Ltd will present as part of a series on the early film scores of John Williams, Family Plot on Sunday, April 7. Click on the above image for more information.
In St. Louis, Missouri The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra will present Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with live musical accompaniment featuring Nicholas Hooper’s rousing score on Friday, April 12. Click on the above image for more information.
In Belo Horizonte, Brazil The Associação Cine Theatro Brasil - Vallourec will present Rio Bravo on Monday, April 22 and Rear Window on Monday, April 29. For more information, click on the respective poster image.
In Pithiviers, France The pithiviers-fait-son-cinema Le Mail will present The Swimmer (1968) on Thursday, April 25. Click on the above image for more information.
In Perth, Australia The West Australian Symphony Orchestra will present The Little Mermaid with live musical accompaniment featuring Alan Menken’s spirited score on Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27. Click on the above image for more information.
In Prague, Czech Republic Kino Aero will present Mad Max 2 The Road Warrior on Saturday, April 27. Click on the above image for more information.
In Edinburgh, United Kingdom Senbla will present The Goonies with live musical accompaniment featuring Dave Grusin’s lively score on Saturday, April 27. Click on the above image for more information.
In Wellington, New Zealand The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will present Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with live musical accompaniment featuring John Williams’ exciting score on Sunday, April 28. Click on the above image for more information.
There are 18 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month.
Don't miss Nicholas Ray's character study 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, is scheduled to arrive Saturday, April 6 at 10am PST.
Later, when it’s dark, The Night of the Hunter will emerge, previously reviewed in Opening Up a Treasure: The Night of the Hunter. This highly expressionistic Grimm-like fable will be told Saturday, April 6 at 7:15pm PST.
Next up is a starring vehicle for James Cagney and Joan Blondell, a pre-code charmer sure to delight fans: Blonde Crazy. This recommendation was previously made here. The fun will begin Monday, April 8 at (early morning) 3am PST.
Next is one of the western genre's finest and another excellent pairing of star James Stewart with director Anthony Mann: The Man from Laramie.
This was the last western the duo made together and perhaps their finest. Previously they collaborated on Winchester '73, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur and The Far Country in that order. In this film, Mann's by now familiar themes of buried hostility, vengeance, familial loyalty and expectation seem developed in a more complex fashion, therefore affording the director a deeper exploration of his characters' conflicts, motives and desires. As always the situations are masterfully presented and infinitely captivating. The Man from Laramie has been previously reviewed as Top Ten Western #7 and will appear Thursday, April 11 at 7pm PST.
Selecting the Top Ten Westerns was a daunting task. Particularly problematic was filling the last (#10) spot, which I felt should be taken by one of the Bud Boetticher directed/Burt Kennedy scripted films starring Randolph Scott. These were stories of richly drawn characters, multi-faceted and unusual, often interlocking conflicts told with miraculous narrative efficiency. Finally, I chose The Tall T for conveying a special sense of urgency, complexity and concise dramatic repercussions especially during the closing standoff. On second thought, there is another film created by these aforementioned collaborators that I now feel could (and perhaps even should) replace The Tall T on the list for its heartfelt poignancy and lingering resonance: Ride Lonesome.
Ride Lonesome’s story is, on the surface, fairly straightforward. Brewing within the distinctive characters and acted with the utmost conviction by an extraordinary cast, nevertheless, are an array of unique and deeply coveted resolves customarily unobserved in the western genre. Action and dialogue are so terse, they exist as one. Adversarial undercurrents are ever present but unpredictably contained like the lava in a dormant volcano. Adding to the film’s enigmatic quality is our hero’s hidden agenda fuelled by a personal tragedy of devastating proportions, revealed toward the film’s unforgettable conclusion. Ride Lonesome will arrive Thursday, April 11 at 11:15pm PST.
Rounding out a trio of exemplary westerns is John Ford’s masterpiece The Searchers, previously reviewed here. It is Top Ten Western #2 and is as likely as any film to provide one with a truly rich and rewarding movie watching experience. The search will begin Thursday, April 11 at (late evening) 12:45am PST.
For a complete change of pace accept TCM’s invite to The Party, previously reviewed as a Blu-ray recommendation here. The fun will begin Friday, April 12 at 9:15pm PST.
The late Stanley Donen directed my next two TCM recommendations. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (reviewed here), an outrageously enjoyable musical will be presented on Saturday, April 13 at 3pm PST
… and Singin’ in the Rain reviewed as a Blu-ray selection here will joyously follow on TCM Saturday, April 13 at 5pm PST.
Although it aired just last month, TCM (perhaps by popular demand) is bringing back Bringing Up Baby previously recommended here. "Baby" will be brought back and up on TCM Sunday, April 14 at (early morning) 5am PST.
Next on my list of recommended films to watch is King Kong (1933), who's scheduled to make his grand entrance on Monday, April 15 at 5pm PST. I have previously reviewed this film with a focus on its musical score here.
Immediately following King Kong is the king of cool, Steve Mc Queen as Bullitt, reviewed here. Bullitt will speed his way onto TCM Monday, April 15 at 7pm PST.
My next recommendation is one of those lesser known films noir with a most appropriate title: Impact. One can experience this captivating little cinematic explosive, previously reviewed here, Thursday, April 18 at (early morning) 5:15am PST.
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 also previously recommended here and will reappear on TCM Saturday, April 20, at 9am PST.
What exactly is film noir? Many enthusiasts and experts continue to debate the subject, with numerous examples of films that should, and just as many that should not, be included in the category. Some, who most likely feel that noir films rely on a certain look, dismiss any colour film as unworthy of being categorised as such. Others like myself, prone to distinguishing noir by its subject matter, are more inclined to include colour films produced during noir's classic time period that focus on crime and the psychologies of those involved. This brings me to my next TCM selection and a prior Blu-ray recommendation here, 1953's Niagara, one of the strongest arguments for colour noir that exists. See for yourself on Monday, April 22 at 9:30pm PST.
A true romance film and of the highest artistic calibre has been reviewed in Opening Up a Treasure: Brief Encounter. Director David Lean's emotionally stirring "encounter" will begin on Thursday, April 25 at 5pm PST.
Immediately following Brief Encounter, there is a more light-hearted but still highly recommended romantic cinematic story: 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 Thursday, April 25 at 6:45pm PST.
The expression "Don't judge a book by its cover" certainly applies to the film Kind Lady, a previous TCM recommendation here. She may be as the title says but her nemesis along with his ghastly gang of home invaders are anything but, and will dominate this tensely twisted thriller, Tuesday, April 30 at (early morning) 3am 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.
Kind Lady is also April’s DVD pick of the month. See the last entry in this column for more details.
This month's Happy Birthday shout-out goes to accomplished filmmaker and staunch defender of the cinematic faith Bertrand Tavernier who turns 78 on April 25th.
His passion for cinema is boundless and comes across in the films he’s directed and often written, e.g. The Clockmaker of St. Paul (1974), The Judge and the Assassin (1976), Coup de Torchon (1981, one of my most cherished films), A Sunday in the Country (1984), ‘Round Midnight (1986), Life and Nothing But (1989), L.627 (1992), Captain Conan (1996), It All Starts Today (1999), Safe Conduct (2002) and In the Electric Mist (2009). His movie loving spiritedness is also evident whenever he speaks or writes on the subject. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting this erudite and gentlemanly film scholar when he visited Perth Australia and boy does he love to talk about cinema!
This month’s Soundtrack recommendation is Craig Safan’s newly expanded score to the 1991 2-part miniseries Son of the Morning Star.
Setting aside all notions concerning the limited artistic capability of film or television music, this is classical composition at its absolute finest. Safan’s epic score is emotionally sumptuous and thematically grandiose. The soundtrack’s expansion, especially considering the source material’s outdated and confined TV aspect ratio, is a big but welcome surprise as was the sophistication, maturity and epic scope of the series itself, chronicling the last ten years in the life of George Armstrong Custer. Intrada has worked closely with the composer in bringing Safan’s glorious symphonic masterwork to life. More information on this limited 2 CD set from Intrada can be obtained by clicking on the image.
April’s recommended DVD contains not only the 1951 version of Kind Lady (reviewed above as a TCM recommendation) but the earlier 1935 adaptation of Edward Chodorov’s Broadway play as well.
The earlier film stars Aline MacMahon as the victimised wealthy spinster, much younger than the same character’s stage persona. Her matching wits with Basil Rathbone as her fiendish adversary makes for a fascinating comparison to an older and more vulnerable Ethel Barrymore trying to survive the evil activities of Maurice Evans (not to mention the added peril of Angela Lansbury and Keenan Wynn) in the 1951 version. This auspicious double feature from Warner Archive can be ordered from Amazon.com by clicking on the accompanying image.