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A Marvelous Night of Movie Magic (Nov 9)

Tonight (Tuesday, Nov 9), TCM is showing a whole bushel of great movies…

At 5pm PT, there’s the brilliant cold war satire by Stanley Kubrick, Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964). You may have seen it before, but it never gets old – Peter Sellers in his dual role as the dim President Merkin Muffley and his wheelchair-bound scientific advisor (a loose parodic hybrid of Wernher von Braun and Dr. Edward Teller); and again as Group Captain Mandrake, trying to prevent Sterling Hayden’s deranged General Jack D. Ripper from initiating WWIII, out of fear that commies are sapping his precious bodily fluids; Slim Pickens as an air force captain riding his nuclear bomb like a bucking bronco…

That’s followed at 7pm by the Scottish director Bill Forsyth’s funny, smart, quirky and tender 1983 film, Local Hero. Peter Riegert (Animal House, Crossing Delancy) is a Texas oil company executive sent to a remote village in Scotland to negotiate the purchase of the entire village and surrounds for use as a refinery installation. He plays the role perfectly, a lost guy who finds himself halfway around the world. The quirky charms of the villagers, including a Nigerian priest, and the Russian fisherman who are regular visitors make for a remarkably heartwarming movie, and the mermaid subplot adds a magical twist that the movie earns, and doesn’t overplay. The soundtrack by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits is very good. Watch for John Gordon Sinclair – star of Forsyth’s earlier, marvelous Gregory’s Girl (1981) – in a minor part.

Both these films by Forsyth would be on any long list of my favorites. Not perhaps on any “greatest” lists, but if you want something smart, funny and quirky – that is also tender and – yes – heartwarming, these are your films.

At 9pm, TCM is showing The Parallax View (1974), directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Warren Beatty – a conspiracy theory movie about political assassination. It’s perfectly fine, and a good example of the kind of movies made in the immediate aftermath of the sea change in Hollywood around 1968, but it’s not special, not in a class with the other movies tonight.

The last wonderful movie of the evening and the one that is most likely to be new for many of you, at 11pm, is Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), another Ealing Studios black comedy starring Alec Guinness, like The Ladykillers. In this one, Guinness plays eight members of the D’Ascoyne family, including a young man, a doddering octogenarian, and a woman, who are knocked off, one by one, by the son of another member of the family, intent on revenge for their cruel treatment of his mother. I haven’t seen this movie since the early 1980s, when I saw it in a double-bill with Ladykillers at the UC Theater – and I’m really looking forward to watching it, and recording it to watch again with friends. It’s wonderful – not to be missed.

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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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