Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Neko Case Guest Programming on TCM Tonight

I received a Neko Case alert that tipped me off to her guest programming for Turner Classics Movies {TCM} tonight {8 December 2009}.  Apparently, she's another night owl and watches TCM.  In fact, she told her publicist that of all the appearances that could be had after the release of Middle Cyclone, she really wanted to do TCM.  Speaking of Middle Cyclone, the songs were written in a hotel room here in Toronto.  Neko's choices::
  1. Radio Days {1987}
  2. A Face in the Crowd {1957}
  3. The Third Man {1949}
  4. The Picture of Dorian Gray {1945}
I sort of wonder if given the opportunity to choose a few "classic" films what people would choose.  Here are my choices.
  1. Flesh and the Devil {1926}  This goes way back, before the era of talkies.  Greta Garbo in a love triangle.  Friendship, love, duels, death, and snow.
  2. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye {1950}  It's been a while since I've seen this, but this was noir as it was meant to be.  I first saw this around the time The Grifters came out.  Unlike much of the neo-noir that has come out in the past 20 years, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye is gritty and the B&W cinematography becomes a character in and of itself.  Orson Welles' Touch of Evil {1958} was nosed out by a hair for this slot.  That had Marlene Dietrich in it and Charlton Heston played a Mexican-American Sheriff, Ramon Miguel "Mike" Vargas.  
  3. East of Eden {1955} or On the Waterfront {1954}.  These are the most predictable choices on my list.  Both of these are Elia Kazan films.  It always bothered me that he threw people under the proverbial bus when he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee {HUAC} in 1952.  Nevertheless, I consider these classics.  John Steinbeck's East of Eden is a variant of the Cain and Able parable that spoke to me when I was younger.  There was something very Californian about his stories that goes beyond setting and evokes the culture and ethos of the place.  It would consider him the quintessential Californian writer for years, until I read Joan Didion.  When Kazan's East of Eden was shot, they had to go up to Mendocino, since mid-1950s Monterey and Salinas were too "modern" to represent themselves around the time of the Great War.  On the Waterfront was brought to my attention via Lloyd Cole and the Commotions' "Rattlesnakes"::  "Jodie wears a hat although it hasn't rained for six days/ She says a girl needs a gun these days hey on account of all the rattlesnakes/She looks like Eve Marie Saint in On the Waterfront/She reads Simone de Beauvoir in her American circumstance..."   When I first saw the film, it seemed terribly dated and far removed from where my head was at. It was hard for me to relate to the corrupt unions and thuggery on the Hoboken, NJ docks, but there was something about the juxtaposition between Saint and Brando, as well as the sense of time and place that spoke to me. Of forced to choose between EoE and OtW, it's OtW.
  4. La Strada {1954} While this film can be tough to watch at times, it's a powerful film. Anthony Quinn {Zampano} is a circus performer with a dark side who buys a girl assistant, Guilietta Masina {Gelsomina} from her mother. They hit the road. It gets dreary and tragic.
  5. The Moon Is Blue {1953} Otto Preminger generated quite the buzz by using the word—virgin! Maggie McNamara uttered it, while William Holder and David Niven pursued her.
  6. The Great Gatsby {1974} I first saw this in the summer of 1985, weeks before I would be reading Fitzgerald's novel in English class. Francis Ford Coppola wrote the script and the direction is lacking, but this will remain one of my favourite films, as it depicts the 1920s with the sensibilities of the 1970s. The novel is a favourite, illuminating the American dream in earnest, yet still empty, terms. Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern, and Sam Waterston pull off their roles and you get a sense of time and place. A sense of Long Island, partying 20s style, and the heat and humidity of NYC in late summer. Oh, Patsy Kensit had a bit part as Daisy Buchanan's daughter.
I could go on and on.

Twitterversion:: #NekoCase guest programs at TCM introducing 4 films. Which "classic" films would you choose? I picked 6. @Prof_K

1 comment:

linnyqat said...

Sorry I missed this when it was first posted. Great blog. When I was a teenager, my mom and I used to spend Sundays on the couch watching old movies on the local PBS channel, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Okay, maybe not for that whole time, but at some point we were usually on the couch with our knitting.

It would be fun to see Bette Davis in Now Voyager again. I saw it before I knew it was a classic. Maybe a double bill with What Ever Happened to Baby Jane.

Also, Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear. (I first knew about him from his role as the patriarch in the endless mini-series, The Winds of War!)

Have always wanted to see The Women; would love to see His Girl Friday again - probably where Amy Sherman-Palladino learned her Gilmore Girls rapidfire dialogue skills from; It Happened One Night for some vintage rom-com (love Clark Gable!)

Man this is fun.