zerode – a sensibility


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On TCM October 26-November 1: Horror and Suspense for Halloween, plus 2 each from Chaplin, Garbo, and Tod Browning


Monday, October 26

Monday morning—early, early morning—starts out with a run of silents, including two of Chaplin’s best:

3am (PST) The Kid (1921)—Charlie Chaplin, with Jackie Coogan

4am (PST) Oliver Twist (1922)—another with Jackie Coogan, and more importantly Lon Chaney. Haven’t seen this version before.

6:45am (PST) The Gold Rush (1925)—Charlie Chaplin

After the sun comes up, the run of good movies continues at 10:15am (PST) with  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)—directed by John Huston, with Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt. Holt’s not much remembered these days, but he appeared in a lot of movies in the 1930s and 1940s, principally Westerns, including some of best—like StagecoachJohn Wayne’s breakthrough film, and the magnificent My Darling Clementine (dir. John Ford). Stanley Kubrick cited Sierra Madre as his fourth favorite film. It comes at the end of the glory years of Bogart’s filmography, beginning in 1941 with The Maltese Falcon.


In the afternoon comes a great and important Western Ride the High Country (1962)—directed by Sam Peckinpah, with Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Mariette Hartley, at 3:15pm (PST). Like Tim Holt, Randolph Scott isn’t a name that’s much remembered these days—though his face will be instantly recognizable by anyone who watches old movies. And he is certainly known by anyone with an interest in the Western, in which genre he is one of the truly great stars. Ride the High Country was his last film, and it is one of his finest, as well as being the first great Western by Peckinpah, who would go on to direct The Wild Bunch.

At 5pm (PST) I may try to catch another of David Niven films, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960), also starring Doris Day. I remember loving this movie as a little kid. And, while I know opinions on this vary, I find Doris Day a treat to watch.

At 1:30am (PST), there’s a fun and funny spoof of Agatha Christie-style mysteries written by Neil Simon, Murder By Death (1976)—with Peter Falk, Truman Capote, Alec Guinness, Elsa Lanchester, and Maggie Smith.

Tuesday, October 27

1:15pm (PST) The Third Man (1949)—directed by Carol Reed, with Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles

On Tuesday night, the “TCM Spotlight” is on “Trailblazing Women”—and it includes some real classics, and a surprise to begin with:

5pm (PST) Gigi (1948)—directed by Jacqueline Audry, with Daniele Delorme, Gaby Morlay, Philippe Noiret. The original film version of Colette’s novel is not a musical, but a droll and amusing (if talky and uncinematic) comedy of manners. Delorme, who starred in two more films based on Colette stories, is delightful as Gigi, the girl trained to be a courtesan by her aunt and grandmother in fin de siecle Paris.

6:30pm (PST) Cleo From 5 to 7 (1962)—directed by Agnès Varda

10:15pm (PST) Love and Anarchy (1973)—directed by Lina Wertmuller, with Giancarlo Giannini, Mariangela Melato. A love story between a prostitute and an anarchist.

12:15am (PST) Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)—directed by Chantal Akerman


Wednesday, October 28

6:30am (PST) Grand Hotel (1932)—with Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Berry. “I want to be alone.”

11:30am (PST) The Great Race (1965)—directed by Blake Edwards, with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, and many more. Edward’s cartoonish tribute to slapstick silent cinema. Curtis and Lemmon are competing daredevil’s who try to win a race from New York to Paris

Wednesday evening features “Treasures from the Disney Vault.” Well, they say treasures… Still it’s a chance to see a few Disney shorts and features, such as Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), that are not frequently shown.

Tod Browning Freaks lobbycard

Thursday, October 29

In the run up to Halloween, TCM is featuring a day of horror and suspense on Thursday, including a few that are really worth seeing.

4:45am (PST) Freaks (1932)—a murder plot and love triangle set amongst a group of circus freaks, directed by Tod Browning. Browning directed a number of silents with Lon Chaney, as well as the classic 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi, but Freaks is probably the film most closely associated with his name, and with good reason. It’s highly unusual, and also deeply disturbing—so much so that it was banned in England for three decades.

7:45am (PST) House on Haunted Hill (1958)—directed by William Castle, with Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long. The original haunted house movie. Millionaire Price offers group of people $10,000 each if they’ll spend a night in spooky old mansion with murder-laden history; he even provides loaded guns as party favors. Campy fun; probably the Castle film which holds up best on TV. Originally presented theatrically with flying skeleton gimmick “Emergo.”

10:45am (PST) Suspicion (1941)—directed by Alfred Hitchcock, with Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Sir Cedric Hardwicke.


Friday, October 30

“The Count is back, with an eye for London’s hotpants…”

It’s all horror, all day on Friday. None of the real classics or greats, but still some good stuff. It starts with a run of 7 Hammer films, beginning with two of their best and ending with one that’s a fun romp.

5:15am (PST) The Mummy (1959, directed by Terence Fisher, with Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Furneaux.

6:45am (PST) Dracula – Prince of Darkness (1966)—directed by Terence Fisher, with Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Andrew Keir.

3:15pm (PST) Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)—also known as Dracula Chelsea ’72, with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Swinging London—with vampires!

After the Hammer films, there are a couple of other films of particular interest.

5pm (PST), the  Cat People (1942)—directed by Jacques Tourneur, with Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph.

11:45pm (PST) The Body Snatcher (1945)—with Boris Karloff AND Bela Lugosi.

Saturday, October 31

On Halloween, another full day of horror, including a few “Creature Features” type fun but somewhat schlocky films, and one under-appreciated classic.

8:15am (PST) The Fearless Vampire Killers; or, Pardon Me but Your Teeth Are in My Neck, 1967, directed by Roman Polanski. A bumbling professor tracks vampires in the wilds of Eastern Europe. Polanski himself plays the professor’s assistant, and Sharon Tate appears as the innkeeper’s daughter. Actually, a very good film, that is of course overshadowed by the whole Manson thing.

12:00pm (PST) The Tingler (1959)—directed by William Castle, with Vincent Price. Preposterous but original shocker: coroner Price discovers that fear causes a creepy-crawly creature to materialize on people’s spines; it can be subdued only by screaming. This is the infamous picture that got moviegoers into the spirit with vibrating gizmos under selected theater seats!–a gimmick director/producer Castle billed as “Percepto.” Also noteworthy as likely the earliest film depicting an LSD trip. One critical sequence is in color.

1:30pm (PST) House of Wax (1953)—directed by Andre DeToth, with Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk.

Curse of the Demon lobby card

7pm (PST) Curse of the Demon (1957)—directed by Jacques Tourneur, with Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis. An anthropologist investigates a devil worshipper who commands a deadly demon.

The best for last. At 10:30pm (PST), TCM is showing the strangely under-appreciated Mark of the Vampire (1935)—director Tod Browning’s remake of his silent, London After Midnight. Vampires terrorize a European village in this beautiful, striking film. Lionel Barrymore plays the Van Helsing role as Inspector Atwill, vampire expert.

Sunday, November 1

So… With Halloween out of the way, how long until the Christmas movies start? Of course, the next big holiday is Thanksgiving, but there just aren’t that many Thanksgiving films. There are a few, like Home for the Holidays, and Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. And… Pocahontas? But there are no holiday films of any kind showing today.

3am (PST) Camille (1937)—directed by George Cukor, with Greta Garbo, Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore.

5am (PST) Tortilla Flat (1942) directed by Victor Fleming, with Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, John Garfield. Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr, John Garfield, Frank Morgan, Akim Tamiroff, Sheldon Leonard, Donald Meek, John Qualen, Allen Jenkins. Steinbeck’s salty novel of California fishing community vividly portrayed by three top stars, stolen by Morgan as devoted dog lover.

3pm (PST) Time After Time (1979)—directed by Nicholas Meyer, with Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, Mary Steenburgen. When Jack the Ripper steals his time machine, author H.G. Wells travels to modern-day San Francisco to track him down.

Sunday evening is a Dostoevsky double bill, starting with Crime and Punishment (1935) at 5pm—a Hollywood version of the Russian novel, directed by Josef von Sternberg, with Peter Lorre as Raskolnikov and Edward Arnold as Inspector Porfiry. Lorre seems plausible as the tormented killer, but much as I love Arnold, and consider him to be one of the great character actors of American cinema, he doesn’t seem a plausible choice for the inspector. I had no idea this film existed. Comments I’ve seen don’t lead me to expect much, but it could be interesting.

11pm (PST) I Vitelloni (1953)—directed by Federico Fellini, with Alberto Sordi, Franco Interlenghi, Franco Fabrizi.

Lina Wertmuller - Love and Anarchy

Pick of the Week

The chance to see that run of Hammer films is really welcome, and I’m particularly looking forward to Dracula Chelsea ’72. But a week that includes The Kid, The Third Man, Love & Anarchy, Ride the High Country and Grand Hotel presents an impossible dilemma when it comes to picking just one film as the highlight of the week. That said, I think it has to be Love & Anarchy, which is shown much less frequently than the others and is also less likely to be available on DVD at your local library or video store.

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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


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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