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On TCM Oct 11-17: Keaton, Astaire, Esther Williams, Marlene Dietrich

Well, I had a busy weekend, and didn’t get around to doing my review of the coming week on TCM in a timely fashion. But I did want to draw attention to a few things showing during the rest of the week.

All month in October, TCM is spotlighting “Critic’s’ Choice” selections on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Among the critics contributing picks are some of the best currently working in the USA – including A.O. Scott, chief film critic of The New York Times; Peter Travers, Rolling Stone; David Denby, The New Yorker; Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times; and Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle.

This Wednesday, Oct 13, two of my favorites are showing as part of the “Critic’s Choice” spotlight: Buster Keaton’s The General (1927) and Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night (1955). It’s somewhat unexpected, but great that TCM has Bergman’s work in its catalog; otherwise it seems unlikely that we’d get much of a chance to see Bergman on cable. Just before The General, there’s a WWII comedy showing that I’m curious about: Yanks Ahoy (1943). It doesn’t feature any big names, is only 60 minutes long – B-movie length – and was produced by Hal Roach Studios, which also produced films with Harold Lloyd, Our Gang, and Laurel & Hardy – some very, very funny stuff. If like me you grew up watching Our Gang and The Little Rascals shorts on TV, then you probably have a soft spot for Hal Roach Studios, like me.

Coincidentally – or perhaps not, since he reads through the TCM schedule same as me – Roger Ebert just tweeted about a blog post of his where you can watch Keaton’s The General and Steamboat Bill Jr plus two shorts, online, free and legal.

Thursday, Oct 14, has two films by D. W. Griffith and no less than five by Hitchcock, but the movie I’m most looking forward to is The Band Wagon (1953), directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Fred Astaire, with Cyd Charisse, Oscar Levant, Nanette Fabray and Jack Buchanan. It’s a very enjoyable movie, with Fred Astaire giving one of the better performances of his later career, and based on a 1931 Broadway musical that also starred Fred Astaire – and introduced the big hit, “That’s Entertainment.” Another fun musical number from the movie is “Triplets,” performed by Astaire, Fabray and Buchanan:

All day Friday, Oct 15, before primetime is given over to the work of director Mervyn LeRoy and there are a couple of movies I particularly want to draw your attention to: Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) at 9am PT and Mister Roberts (1955) at 2:45pm. Million Dollar Mermaid is a musical, more or less – but what it really is is one of the mermaid/water ballet/diving movies starring that swimming sensation of the silver screen, Esther Williams:

Friday night is given over to another round of Hammer Horror – this time focusing on another iconic movie monster, the mummy, starting with The Mummy (1959) at 5pm.

Saturday night, Oct 16, the focus is on Marlene Dietrich, with five movies, including two of her most famous, directed by the great Josef von Sternberg: Morocco (1930), with Gary Cooper, at 9:15pm and The Blue Angel (1930) at 12:45am.

Sunday, Oct 17, features a grab-bag of movies from a range of genres that are worth checking out: a musical, The Harvey Girls (1946), with Judy Garland; a science fiction classic The Time Machine (1960), based on the H. G. Wells story; one of the great silents, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), with Lon Chaney; and finally, at 11pm, Infernal Affairs (2002) – a terrific Hong Kong triad film, remade by Martin Scorsese as The Departed, which went on to win him his first Oscar for best picture.

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows

zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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