Saturday, January 21, 2012


There is a rather amazing line up of great classic films this week on Turner Classic Movies. It starts Monday with a marathon of six films from director Max Ophuls. Ophuls was best known for his films about illicit love, passionate affairs and his wonderfully fluid and sweeping camera movement. The first film in the marathon is a TCM premier, The Reckless Moment (1949) about a women who is blackmailed after going to great lengths to keep her daughter out of prison. After that is Caught (1949), another noir about a model (Barbara Bel Geddes) who marries an eccentric millionaire (Robert Ryan) only to find out that there’s a fine line between eccentric and insane. Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948) is next, about a woman’s tragic, lifelong love for a callous concert pianist. Next up is another TCM premier, The Exile (1947) starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as an exiled Charles II, hiding from Oliver Cromwell’s assassins. But the best is saved for last with two Ophuls masterpieces.  La Ronde (1950) and The Earrings Of Madam De(1954).

La Ronde is a beautiful film about a mysterious raconteur (Anton Wallbrook) and his magical merry-go-round that turns the viewer into a voyeur and takes them into a world of sex, scandalous romance and affairs. A stunningly beautiful film photographed by Christian Matras and a playful musical score by Oscar Straus. This movie is as close to perfection as it gets. 

The Earrings Of Madam De… is another visually stunning film that also stars the lovely Danielle Darrieux. The film is about the journey of a pair of diamond earrings that change hands as well as meaning. The journey of the earrings plays out against the backdrop of a rocky marriage between a General (Charles Boyer) and his wife (Darrieux), both of whom are having affairs. The scenes between Darrieux and her lover as the camera follows them on the dance floor are sublime. Not to be missed. The Ophuls marathon starts Monday at 8pm Eastern.

On Wednesday TCM gives more of Star of the Month Angela Lansbury. At 8pm Eastern they’re showing an episode of “Private Screenings”, the series that has TCM host Robert Osborne interviewing various stars of classic film. In this episode he interviews a very animated Lansbury who gives a very enjoyable and informative interview in which she discusses her amazing career and more iconic flims such as The Manchurian Candidate. This is followed by a few Lansbury films including the fun, star studded Agatha Christie mystery Death On The Nile (1978).

On Friday we get a marathon of films by director James Whale that include a couple dramas THE GREAT GARRICK (1937) and ONE MORE RIVER (1934) as well as two of his more iconic Universal horror films, the Claude Rains tour de force THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933) and the one that really started it all FRANKENSTEIN (1931).

The week ends on a high note with the terrific Ida Lupino film THE HARD WAY (1932) about the rise of an ambitious young woman (Joan Leslie) and her even more ambitious stage Sister (Ida Lupino), both of whom leave a path of ruined lives in their wake. The film is loosely based on the life of Ginger Rogers and her mother and, ironically, the role was actually offered to Rogers first but she turned it down. Good thing too as this is one of Ida Lupino’s greatest and, unfortunately, rarely seen performances. Personally I think it’s her best role, topping other great performances in films such as HIGH SIERRA.  The Hard Way aires on Sunday at 6 am Eastern.  This is a must see. Check your local listings for schedule and time changes. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen. All times are Eastern.

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