It is a very blustery evening as I write. The wind is howling and there has been an unrelenting light rain all day. This is the weather forecast for the island for the next few days. I have plenty of food and provisions. And, I have plenty of DVR material to catch up on. I actually love this weather and I am looking forward to writing and catching up with the blog.
Here are my picks for this week, including one of my favorite films of all time, “Jezebel” with Bette Davis. It is the feature this week on TCM’s The Essentials. It’s going to be a good week.
Tuesday June 5th
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)
A black police detective from the North forces a bigoted Southern sheriff to accept his help with a murder investigation.
Dir: Norman Jewison Cast: Sidney Poitier, Rod Steiger, Warren Oates
C-110 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
While many movies attempt to show an honest narrative of racism in our modern history, they fall short when trying to appease a PC status quo. This Oscar-winning screenplay is brilliant for showing that racial tensions could be more than one-sided. Released in 1967, many viewed this as a timely film. But, let’s be honest, it is still timely today. This movie still stands as a timeless classic. Steiger won the Best Actor Oscar; the film, Best Picture. The Oscars were actually postponed that year for several days, due to the assassination of Martin Luther King. Sidney Poitier has often said this is his favorite movie. “They call me Mr. Tibbs!” is 16th in AFI’s greatest movie lines.
Thursday June 7th
JAILHOUSE ROCK (1957)
After learning to play the guitar in prison, a young man becomes a rock ‘n roll sensation.
Dir: Richard Thorpe Cast: Elvis Presley, Judy Tyler, Mickey Shaughnessy
BW-96 mins, TV-G, CC, Letterbox Format
Dance Alert! Elvis’ un-credited choreography for the song “Jailhouse Rock” is absolutely brilliant. He made it up on the spot, after the film’s choreographer realized that Elvis was not a professionally trained classical dancer. Gene Kelley was on set to watch Elvis film his most famous dance number. Sadly, Elvis refused to watch this movie because of the tragic death of Judy Tyler, just three days after filming was completed.
Friday June 8th
SPIRAL STAIRCASE, THE (1945)
A serial killer stalks a mute servant girl in a remote mansion.
Dir: Robert Siodmak Cast: Dorothy McGuire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore .
BW-84 mins, TV-14, CC
Grab a cozy throw and settle in for an excellent psychological thriller. Along with an excellent ensemble cast, the Victorian mansion, that most of the film takes place, is a character itself. (A quality I adore, as I am a huge Nancy Myers fan.) This film is a masterful work of black and white photography. It is also a lesson in cinematography and the ability to convey atmosphere on film.
Saturday June 9th
A tempestuous Southern belle’s willfulness threatens to destroy all who care for her.
Dir: William Wyler Cast: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent
BW-104 mins, TV-PG, CC
Woot! One of my favorites! Grab the Maker’s Mark, stir up a pitcher of mint juleps and get ready for one melodramatic trip to the South. Davis deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as stubborn, spoiled “Julie”. Wow. She nails it! Some of the “traditions” and culture of the south may have you scratching your head, but just think of it as a history lesson or a “we’ve come a long way, baby” moment. Hell, just have another mint julep and enjoy classic Bette Davis.
BONUS: This is part of TCM’s The Essentials line-up and will be introduced by Robert Osborne and Drew Barrymore in their special series. Another good reason to make a night of it. Cheers!
Sunday June 10th
WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, THE: 50 YEARS OF MAGIC (1990)
The story of how MGM created one of the most beloved family films of all time.
Dir: Jack Haley Jr. Cast: Angela Lansbury, John Lahr, Liza Minnelli
C-51 mins, TV-G, CC
WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939)
A Kansas farm girl dreams herself into a magical land where she must fight a wicked witch to escape.
Dir: Victor Fleming Cast: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger
C-102 mins, TV-G, CC
I recommend this to everyone EXCEPT Jeffrey, and Larkin. (They really hate those flying monkeys.)
If you were a kid in the 70’s, doesn’t this movie remind you of getting fed and bathed early so our parents could set you in front of the TV to watch the ANNUAL airing of “The Wizard of Oz?” That’s right, all you kids with your fancy technology and your DVD’s and your Hulu and your Netflix. We had to WAIT for that ONE time of the year. And, we loved it.
It is summertime, so if you have little kids or just love this movie, I highly recommend tuning into The Essentials Jr. on Sunday nights, hosted by Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live. He will introduce this masterpiece that has been the inspiration for so many re-makes, adaptations, art, books and songs for over 60 years.
And, you can give your kids a little glimpse into the “olden days” when you had to watch a movie when it was actually ON. Regardless, it is a beautiful film with more poignant “finding your true self” metaphors than there are….well, FLYING MONKEYS….hee! hee! hee! hee!