Saturday, January 29, 2022

Black History Month on Turner Classic Movies on Sundays in Feburary

Sidney Poitier in Lilies of the

February is Black History Month. In honour of that occasion, every Sunday night during the month Professor Jacqueline Stewart and special guests will host films celebrating Black History on Turner Classic Movies. The movies range from the documentary Oscar Micheaux: The Superhero of Black Filmmaking (2021), which deals with the legendary filmmaker's career, to the classic Lilies of the Field (1963), starring Sir Sidney Poitier. Also among the films airing on the classic musical Stormy Weather (1943), featuring an incredible dance sequence with the Nicholas Brothers, Selma (2014), Ava Duvernay's film about the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march, Oscar Micheaux's Silent classic Within Our Gates (1920), and Agnes Varda's documentary Black Panthers (1968).

The special guests who will host movies alongside Professor Stewart are Dr. Samantha Sheppard, Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies in the Department of Performing and Media Arts at Cornell University, Dr. Racquel Gates, Associate Professor of Film at Columbia University, and actor David Oyelowo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie Selma.

Below is a schedule of the films showing during TCM's Black History Month celebration. All times are Central.

Sunday, February 6
8:00 Lilies of the Field (1963) with Dr. Samantha Sheppard
10:00 PM: Freedom on My Mind (1994) with Dr. Samantha Sheppard
12:15 AM: Ten Nights in a Barroom (1926) with Dr. Samantha Sheppard

Sunday, February 13
8:00 PM: Stormy Weather (1943) with Dr. Racquel Gates
9:30 PM: Oscar Micheaux: The Superhero of Black Filmmaking (2021) with Dr. Racquel Gates
11:00 PM: Within Our Gates (1920) with Dr. Racquel Gates
12:30 AM: The Symbol of the Unconquered (1922) with Dr. Racquel Gates

Sunday, February 20
8:00 PM: Selma (2014) with David Oyelowo
10:30 PM: Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963) with David Oyelowo
12:00 AM: Body and Soul (1925) with Dr. Racquel Gates

Sunday, February 27
8:00 PM: Malcolm X (1992) with David Oyelowo
11:30 PM: Black Panthers (1968) with David Oyelowo
12:15 AM: The Scar of Shame (1929) with Dr. Samantha Sheppard

Friday, January 28, 2022

It's Not You, It's Me--Breakup Classics on TCM on Monday Nights in February

Irene Dunne, Skippy, and
Cary Grant from The Awful

February is the month of St. Valentine's Day. Given that fact, it might seem odd that Turner Classic Movies is dedicating Monday nights during the month to movies about break-ups. It might not seem so odd when one considers that there are those who don't particularly appreciate St. Valentine's Day because they are single or they have broken up with their sweetheart, not to mention there are many out there who simply enjoy a good movie about the dissolution of a relationship. Regardless, TCM has a particularly fine line-up of movies centred on break-ups.

The movies on  It's Not You It's Me--Breakup Classics are each devoted to a different category. There are Pre-Code Heartbreakers, such as The Divorcee (1930) starring Norma Shearer.  Knowing Me, Knowing You, to which  The Way We Were (1973) belongs. Teenage Tearjerkers, of which Splendour in the Grass (1961) is one, The best known of the movies in  Slow Burns, is the classic Casablanca (1942). And then there is Divorce Remorse, which includes The Awful Truth (1937).

TCM is showing some truly great films for It's Not Me, It's You--Breakup Classics. If you have not seen The Divorcee, by all means you should. And while I do not consider Brief Encounter to be romantic the way many classic film buffs do, it is a very fine film. I also have to recommend Casablanca, which is one of my top five films of all time. February 28 may well be the best night of It's Not Me, It's You--Breakup Classics, featuring as it does The Awful Truth, Divorce American Style, and Adam's Rib.

Below is a schedule of the films airing on Monday nights as part of It's Not Me, It's You--Break Up Classics. All times are Central.

Monday, February 7
7:00 PM The Divorcee (1930)
8:30 PM Goodbye Again (1933)
9:45 Forsaking All Others (1934)
11:15 PM Indiscretion of an American Wife (1954)
12:30 AM  That Uncertain Feeling (1941)
2:00 AM And So They Were Married (1936)

Monday, February 14
7:00 PM The Way We Were (1973)
9:15 PM Brief Encounter (1945)
10:45 PM Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
1:00 AM Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Monday, February 21
7:00 PM Splendour in the Grass (1961)
9:30 PM A Summer Place (1959)
11:45 PM Casablanca (1942)
1:45 AM Love on the Run (1979)
3:30 AM Scenes from a Marriage (1973)

Monday, February 27
7:00 PM The Awful Truth (1937)
9:00 PM Blume in Love (1973)
11:15 PM Divorce American Style (1967)
1:15 AM Marriage on the Rocks (1965)
3:15 AM Adam's Rib (1949)

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Peter Robbins, the Original Voice of Charlie Brown, Passes On

Peter Robbins, who as the voice of Charlie Brown in the first six Charlie Brown special, was found dead last week from an apparent suicide. He was 65 years old.

Peter Robbins was born Louis Nanasi in Los Angeles on August 10 1956. He started acting when he was only 7 years old. He made his film debut in the film A Ticklish Affair in 1963. The following he made his television debut in an episode of Rawhide. He went on to guest star on the TV shows The Donna Reed Show, The Munsters, The Farmer's Daughter, and The Joey Bishop Show.

Peter Robbins first voiced Charlie Brown in animated segments of the unreleased documentary A Boy Named Charlie Brown (not to be confused with the later feature film of the same name). After wards he voiced the character in the first Charlie Brown special A Charlie Brown Christmas. He continued to voice Charlie Brown until 1969, his final special being It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown. He also provided the voice of Charlie Brown in the first Charlie Brown feature film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969). He also played Alexander Bumstead in the short-lived sitcom Blondie.

Peter Robbins also appeared in the movies Moment to Moment  (1966), And Now Miguel (1966), Good Times (1967), and The Boatniks (1970). He guest starred on the shows Love on a Rooftop, ABC Stage 67, The F.B.I., F Troop, Get Smart, and Bracken's World. His last appearance was in an episode of My Three Sons in 1972.

While he had a successful career as a child actor, sadly Peter Robbins struggled with his mental health as an adult. He suffered from both bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. This led to occasional run-ins with the law. In 2019 he told KSWB in San Diego in an interview, “I would recommend to anybody that has bipolar disorder to take it seriously because your life can turn around in the span of a month, like it did to me.”

When many people think of Charlie Brown , it is Peter Robbins's choice they hear in their head. And this is with good reason. Peter Robbins was prefect as the character. While others have voiced the character over the years, no one did it better.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Godspeed Don Wilson of The Ventures

Don Wilson, the rhythm guitarist who co-founded The Ventures died at age 88 on January 22 2022.

Don Wilson was born in Tacoma, Washington on February 10 1933. When he was young he was a fan of country music-and-western music and big band music. He stated out playing the trombone, but switched to the guitar when he was the United States Army. He worked as a car salesman and a construction worker before he co-founded a band called The Versatones with lead guitarist Bob Bogle in the late Fifties. Finding that the name was already taken, the band was renamed The Ventures in 1959.

The Ventures' first single, "Cookies and Coke," was released in 1960, but did not chart. That same year their second single, "Walk, Don't Run" was released. It ultimately went to no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album of the same title, peaked at no. 11 on the Billboard album chart. Throughout the Sixties The Ventures would have several single reach the Hot 100, and they would have another huge hit with their cover of the theme to the television show Hawaii Five-O, which went to no. 4 on the Hot 100. Their albums also did well, often peaking in the upper reaches of the Billboard album chart.

With the advent of the Seventies, The Ventures' fortunes changed and neither their singles nor their albums were charting. It was with the eighties that the band experienced something of a resurgence, with punk and New Wave bands acknowledging their influence. While The Ventures experienced changes in membership over the years, Don Wilson remained with the group until he retired in 2015.

As The Ventures' rhythm guitarist and the band's most constant member, Don Wilson was very important to the group's sound. He was one of the best rhythm guitarist in rock music, with a style that was direct and powerful and nunlike anyone else. It was largely because of Don Wilson's rhythm guitar that The Ventures became the most successful instrumental group of all time. In 1963 they had five albums at once on the Billboard album chart. The Ventures were certainly influential. They technically pre-dated surf rock and they did not consider themselves a surf rock band, but they had a huge impact on the subgenre nonetheless. They also had an impact on power pop, punk, and New Wave, as well as guitar groups in general. They pioneered both flanging and fuzz guitar. They ultimately had an impact on  bands as diverse as The Beach Boys and Kiss. In the end, Don Wilson was one of the most influential rock musicians of all time.