"Now Listen to Me..."
Just some thoughts on current happenings:
Classic film screenings from around the world this month include:
In Athens, Greece The Athens Film Society will present “Bernardo Bertolucci: The Last Dreamer”, a retrospective of the late director’s films from Thursday, May 2 to Wednesday, May 8. Highlights include The Conformist (Il conformista, 1970) on Friday, May 3, Last Tango in Paris (Ultimo tango a Parigi, 1972) on Saturday, May 4 and 1900 (Novecento, 1976) on Wednesday, May 8. For a complete list (in Greek) of all of the films being presented and more information, click on the above image.
In Los Angeles, California The Beverly Cinema will present a double bill of Near Dark (1987) and Jennifer’s Body (2009) . Both films (35mm prints) will be shown Friday, May 3. For more information, including the entire month of May’s exciting programme, click on either of the above 2 images.
In theatres across the U.S. TCM and Fathom Events are presenting True Grit (1969, as part of the film’s 50th Anniversary) on May 5 and 8 and Steel Magnolias (1968, A Special 30th Anniversary Event) on May 19, 21 and 22. Click on the respective image for more information.
In theatres across the U.S. Flashback Cinema is presenting Monty Python and the Holy Grail on May 5 and 8, The Sound of Music on May 12 (Mother’s Day) and 15, The Princess Bride on May 19 and 22 and Grease on May 26 and 29. Click on the respective image for more information.
Throughout various locations in Australia Event Cinemas will host Hollywood Classics On the Big Screen. This month's showings will include 12 Angry Men on Monday, May 6 and The Red Shoes on Monday, May 20.
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 The Shining on Monday, May 13 and Heathers on Monday, May 27.
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 Palm Springs, California The Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival will take place from May 9 - 12. The festival opens with The Night of the Hunter (1955), featuring special guest Kathy Garver and a reception following the screening. Additional highlights include a new 35mm print presentation of Michael Curtiz’ The Scarlet Hour (1956), John Farrow's Calcutta (1947) and Joseph Pevney's Shakedown (1950), the last three of which are unavailable on DVD or Blu-Ray. More information is available by clicking on the above image.
In San Francisco, California The Roxie Theatre will host Mid-Century Production’s 5½ annual The French Had a Name For It: French Film Noir - The Frenetic Fifties from Friday, May 10 - Monday, May 13. This festival will feature many rare cinematic gems. For more information, click on the image above.
In El Segundo (part of greater Los Angeles), California The Old Town Music Hall will present Song of the Islands on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11. Click on the above image for more information.
In Williamsville, New York Noir Essentials: Departures continues at Dipson’s Eastern Hills Cinema with Odd Man Out screening on Wednesday, May 15. Click on the above image for more information.
In Amsterdam, Netherlands The Movies will show the latest 4k restoration of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb along with Stanley Kubrick Considers The Bomb, a new short film produced and directed by Matt Wells on Thursday, May 16. Click on the above image for more information.
Noir City will take place in Austin, Texas from May 17 - 19. Highlights will include 1949’s Trapped, the latest restoration project of the Film Noir Foundation and Don Siegel’s Private Hell 36. For more information, click on the image above.
In Atlanta, Georgia The Atlanta Symphony will present Jaws with live musical accompaniment featuring John Williams’ iconic score on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18. Click on the above image for more information.
In Calgary, Alberta, Canada The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra will present The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers with live musical accompaniment featuring Howard Shore’s magnificent score on Friday, May 17, Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19. Click on the above image for more information.
In München (Munich), Germany The Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra along with The Choir of the Charles University Prague and Clara Sanabras mezzo-soprano will present Gladiator with live musical accompaniment featuring Hans Zimmer and Lisa Gerrard’s complete Oscar®-nominated, Golden Globe®-winning score on Saturday, May 25. Click on the above image for more information.
In Tokyo, Japan The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Mauceri along with composer Danny Elfman will present Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas with live musical accompaniment featuring Danny Elfman’s spirited score as part of the movie’s 25th anniversary celebrations on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. Click on the above image for more information (in Japanese).
There are 22 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:
TCM is featuring many a fine film from director John Frankenheimer in May including his action-packed and thought provoking feature The Train, a previous Blu-ray recommendation here. The Train will begin its perilous journey Saturday, May 4 at 2:30pm PST.
Once again, TCM will bring back this month Bringing Up Baby previously recommended here. "Baby" will be brought back and up on TCM Tuesday, May 7 at 10:30pm PST.
Barbara Stanwyck stars as a devoted wife trying to save her husband (played by Barry Sullivan) but equally determined to match wits against killer Ralph Meeker in order to do so, in the previously recommended (here) noir, 1953's Jeopardy. This life or death struggle will commence Wednesday, May 8 at 6:15am PST.
"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 Wednesday, May 8 at 2:45pm PST.
The late Stanley Donen directed my next TCM recommendation. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (reviewed here), an outrageously enjoyable musical will be presented on Thursday, May 9 at 1:15pm PST.
Writer-producer David E Kelley’s fictional attorneys, like those seen in the film From the Hip and TV shows such as The Practice and Boston Legal, would occasionally employ creative courtroom theatrics of extreme methods in order to help secure their client’s acquittal. Kelley was an attorney himself and took inspiration from some real life situations he observed. Therefore, what may appear to be a flamboyant lawyer’s sensational make-believe on-screen behaviour (which can also be seen in TV’s current series Better Call Saul) is in reality more representative of what might actually occur in a criminal courtroom setting. Realism aside, fans of brash, ethically questionable legal manoeuvrings are sure to get a kick out of Edward G Robinson’s public prosecutor turned criminal defence lawyer's ingenious courtroom shenanigans in 1955’s Illegal.
Illegal is a remake of the pre-code 1932 film The Mouthpiece which is based on a play by Frank J. Collins also adapted into 1940’s The Man Who Talked Too Much. The main character of all three films was marginally based on prominent criminal defence attorney Bill Fallon of the 1920s who defended notorious gambler Arnold Rothstein for the World Series “Black-Sox” fix and was dubbed by the press “The Great Mouthpiece” for his distinctive oratory skills.
The 1955 Warner Brothers film is kind of a throwback to Robinson and the studio’s 1930’s gangland era, only instead of playing a gangster, he winds up defending them. Illegal’s opening is both intellectually and emotionally enthralling: Robinson is self-assured District Attorney Victor Scott who successfully prosecutes the wrong man (a convincingly distraught DeForest Kelley) into the electric chair. Scott, overcome with remorse and guilt, drowns his self-loathing in alcohol. While in court for his own drunken behaviour, he finds usefulness as well as a possible path to redemption in helping another defendant with his own set of problems.
The film’s focus on Scott‘s determination to be the legal system’s best district attorney, and the experience and knowledge he’s accumulated along the way, gives him a substantial adversarial edge in later defending those same criminals he once would have zealously prosecuted. Of course it helps having an actor as convincing as Edward G Robinson playing the part. His capacity to think, listen and respond to each and every person and situation is always so perfectly measured and believable, one can only assess his complete thespian mastery in hindsight. There’s also Illegal’s terrific supporting cast, including Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, Albert Dekker, Ellen Corby, Jan Merlin and Jayne Mansfield among others, who enliven vivid and highly relatable characters. Illegal has been directed by British born Lewis Allen with confidence and flair from a screenplay adapted by crime specialist W.R. Burnett and another ace screenwriter, James R. Webb. There are an abundance of narrative surprises paralleling Victor Scott’s journey of conscientiousness guaranteed to keep viewers totally immersed throughout Illegal’s dramatic evolution. Illegal’s activity will begin on TCM Friday, May 10 at 1:45pm.
Illegal is also May’s DVD pick of the month. See the last entry in this column for more details.
There's no better way to celebrate Steve McQueen’s most iconic characterisations than by witnessing his titular Bullitt, reviewed here. Bullitt will speed its way onto TCM Friday, May 10 at 9pm 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 Monday, May 13 at (late evening) 1:30am PST.
Despite its ridiculously hard to follow plot, this film's wildly entertaining detective yarn is worth getting up for. Previously reviewed here, The Big Sleep will awaken Tuesday, May 14 at 10:45am PST and again Thursday, May 30 at (early morning) 4am PST.
Later Tuesday afternoon, how about indulging 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 Tuesday, May 14 at 5pm 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 Saturday, May 18 at 12:45pm PST.
Next up is a film noir triple header par excellence: Scarlet Street, The Prowler and Pitfall. All contain male characters who become morally compromised to one degree or another.
Film noir has few representatives as dourly defeatist or as forcefully communicative on the subject of human relations than 1945's Scarlet Street, previously reviewed here. Edward G. Robinson as Christopher Cross, will take his fateful walk down that dark and foreboding street Tuesday, May 21 at (noon) 12pm PST.
Immediately following is another film noir with a central character whose emotions have apparently consumed his common sense and compromised his moral integrity The Prowler, previously reviewed here. Be on TCM’s watch Tuesday, May 21 at 1:45pm.
The final noir of the three features Dick Powell’s character facing a mid-life crises, including a far more considerable threat to his well being in the form of Raymond Burr’s jealous co-worker, in Pitfall, previously recommended here. Pitfall will occur Tuesday, May 21 at 3:30pm PST.
My next TCM recommendation is 1955's modern-day take on the American Western, Bad Day at Black Rock, previously reviewed here. This exceptional suspense-thriller's day will begin Thursday, May 23 at 12:30pm PST.
Then there's 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 unforgettable, rich and rewarding movie watching experience. The search will begin Friday, May 24 at (early morning) 5:30am PST.
Also playing Friday, May 24th is a highly expressionistic Grimm-like fable, that appears as if conveyed from a child's point of view. This "fairytale noir" as Film Noir expert Eddie Muller calls it, was reviewed in Opening Up a Treasure: The Night of the Hunter and will be told Friday, May 24 at 1:30pm PST.
Few biopics are as inspirational as Michael Curtiz’ Jim Thorpe - All American, a previous TCM recommendation here and one that can be appreciated again Saturday, May 25 at 1am 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" Monday, May 27 at 5pm PST.
TCM is 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 on TCM Thursday, May 30 at 5pm PST.
TCM's current monthly schedule can be confirmed by clicking on the above image. 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 Soundtrack recommendation is Jerry Fielding’s newly edited and remastered score to the 1971 film Lawman.
The film’s stark unrelenting nature is enhanced by Fielding’s steady and fluent harmonic progressions. The composer has an innate ability to soften the film’s tone of violent despair with his unique interweaving lyricism while still accentuating the fiercely opposing psychological undercurrents about to explode. As long as viewers can appreciate Lawman’s topsy-tervy approach to the western’s conventional handling of “law and order” story elements, they should find this film, brutal and pessimistic as it is, compelling and thought-provoking. The superb cast, including star Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, Lee J. Cobb, Robert Duvall, Sheree North, Albert Salmi and Richard Jordan, along with Jerry Fielding’s music, contribute substantially to that fulfilling experience. More information on this limited edition CD issued by Intrada Records can be obtained by clicking on the accompanying image.
This month's Happy Birthday shout-out goes to the lovely, multi-talented and César Award winning French actress and filmmaker Sandrine Bonnaire who turns 52 on May 31st.
She is known mostly for her starring role in the late Agnes Varda’s Vagabond (1985). Other notable film appearances include those in À Nos Amours (1983), Police (1985), Les innocents (1987), A Few Days with Me (1988, Quelques jours avec moi), Monsieur Hire (1989), La Cérémonie (1995) and East/West (1999, Est - Ouest) among others. Bonnaire also co-wrote and directed the award-winning 2007 documentary Her Name is Sabine (Elle s'appelle Sabine, about her autistic sister) and 2012’s Maddened by His Absence (J'enrage de son absence, starring William Hurt).
May’s recommended DVD contains not only the Edward G. Robison starrer Illegal (reviewed above as a TCM recommendation) but the Don Siegel directed film noir The Big Steal starring Out of the Past’s Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer. This big bang (and steal) for your buck double feature from Warner Archive can be ordered from Amazon.com by clicking on the accompanying image.