Saturday, April 2, 2022

TCM Classic Film Festival 2022

After two years of being a virtual event, the TCM Classic Film Festival returns to Hollywood from April 21 to April 24. The theme for this year is fittingly "All Together Now: Back to the Big Screen."

Several individuals will be honoured this year at the festival. The 2022 Robert Osborne Award goes to film critic and film historian Leonard Maltin, known affectionately to many classic film buffs as "Uncle Leonard." Leonard Maltin is known for being the resident film critic on Entertainment Tonight for thirty years, as well as for his book Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide. He is also the author of several other books, including the history of theatrical animation, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. Legendary actress, comedian, and writer Lily Tomlin will be honoured with a hand and footprint ceremony outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre. The festival will also pay tribute to actor Bruce Dern, actress Piper Laurie, and animator Floyd Norman.

There will also be several special guests at the 13th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival. Pam Grier will be on hand for the screening of her movie Coffy (1973). Lori Petty, Anne Ramsay, Ann Cusack, Megan Cavanagh, and Jon Lovitz will be at the festival to celebrate the 30th anniversary of A League of Their Own (1992). Margaret O'Brien will be present for the screening of the 1949 version of Little Women. Other guests include Jane Seymour for Somewhere in Time (1980), Warren Beatty for Heaven Can Wait (1978), Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas for the festival's opening movie, E.T. (1982), Glynn Turman, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Garrett Morris, and Steven Williams  for Cooley High (1975), Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Steve Guttenberg and Tim Daly for Diner (1982), and others.

There are several "can't miss" movies showing at this year's festival, and I am sure festival attendees will have some hard choices to make as far as what to watch. On Thursday alone there is Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Topkapi (1964), and Lover Come Back (1961). Friday there are screenings of Maise Gets Her Man (1942), The Jungle Book (1967), Lilies of the Field (1963), The Pajama Game (1957), It's Always Fair Weather (1955), Giant (1956), Soylent Green (1973), and Cooley High. On Saturday there are screenings of Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), The Third Man (1949), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Baby Face (1933), Somewhere in Time, The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Hustler (1961), Invaders form Mars (1953), Diner, Singin' in the Rain (1952), Drunken Master (1992), and Force of Evil (1948). On Sunday there are showings of After the Thin Man (1936), Paper Moon (1943), Spartacus (1960), Waterloo Bridge (1940), High Noon (1952), A League of Their Own (1992), and Coffy. You can see the whole schedule here.

This year's TCM Classic Film Festival looks to be a good one and, as usual, I really wish I could go. I do hope those who are going this year will have a good time and won't have too much trouble deciding which movies to watch!

Friday, April 1, 2022

Noir Alley Returns This April on TCM

TCM's 31 Days Without Noir Alley 31 Days of Oscar ended yesterday, which means Noir Alley returns tomorrow, Saturday, April 2. I think I can speak for all Noir Alley fans when I say that we have been impatiently awaiting its return.

Unfortunately, at least for those of us who watch Noir Alley on Saturday night, we will have to wait just a little bit longer. Tomorrow night Noir Alley airs late, at 11:45 PM Central/12:45 AM Eastern. Fortunately, it is a movie that has already aired on Noir Alley, although it is a good one. Pitfall (1948) stars Dick Powell as an ordinary employee of an insurance company who gets drawn into a nefarious plot by a particularly brutal private investigator (played by Raymond Burr). On Sunday Pitfall will air on Sunday at 9:00 AM Central/10:00 AM Eastern as usual.

On Saturday, April 9 and Sunday, April 10 the 1955 French gangster film Bob le Flambeur airs on Noir Alley. Bob le flambeur centres on a former bank robber who, after twenty years of going straight, finds himself involved in another heist. On Saturday night, April 9, it also airs late, although not as late as Pitfall. It airs at 11:30 PM Central. On Sunday it airs at 9:00 AM as usual.

On Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17, Night and the City (1950) airs on Noir Alley. This is a must see. It is a gritty noir set in London and directed by Jules Dassin in which wrestling is central to the plot. Unfortunately, it also airs late on Saturday, at 11:30 PM Central/12:30 AM Eastern. It airs at 9:00 AM Central/10:00 AM Eastern as usual on Sunday.

On Saturday, April 23 and Sunday, April 24 viewers will get to see Barbara Hale make a rare appearance in a noir. In The Window (1949) she plays the mother of a young boy who has a habit of crying wolf. Unfortunately for the boy, he witnesses an actual murder. The Window airs on Saturday at a time closer to Noir Alley's usual time, 11:15 PM Central/12:15 AM Eastern. It airs on Sunday at 9:00 AM/10 AM Eastern.

Finally, Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1 will see Noir Alley airing Johnny Angel (1946). In Johnny Angel, George Raft plays a ship captain who sets out to solve the murder of his father. Unfortunately it also airs late on Saturday, at 11:30 PM Central/12:30 AM Eastern.

I am certainly glad that Noir Alley is back, especially given how good it's line-up is this month. That having been said, I really wish Turner Classic Movies would stop airing the Saturday night instalment so late. Not all of us enjoy staying up really late to watch Noir Alley, but we aren't morning people either, so getting up at 9:00 AM isn't exactly appealing. And, honestly, if they want to show two long movies back to back in primetime, they could always choose another night of the week than Satuday. As far as I cam concerned, Noir Alley on Saturday should never air later than 11:15 PM Central/12:15 PM Eastern.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Marvin J. Chomsky Passes On

The Wild Wild West and the mini-series Roots, died on March 28 2022 at the age of 92.

Marvin J. Chomsky was born on May 23 1929. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1950. He began his career in the television industry as an art director on an episode of Camera Three in 1957. He also served as a set director on the show Video Village and on the show Play of the Week. He served as an art director on episodes of The Nurses and Gunsmoke.

Mr. Chomsky made his directorial debut on the TV series The Nurses, ultimately directing three episodes of the show. He would later direct several episodes of The Wild Wild West. In the Sixties he also directed episodes of the shows Maya, Star Trek, Then Came Bronson, Gunsmoke, Lancer, Storefront Lawyers, The Wonderful World of Disney, The Name of the Game, The Intern and Mission: Impossible.

In the Seventies Marvin J. Chomsky directed two episodes of the miniseries Roots and all four episodes of the miniseries Holocaust. He directed episodes of the shows The Name of the Game, The Interns, Bearcats!, Mission: Impossible, Cannon, Cade's County, Hawaii Five-O, The Bold Ones: The New Doctors, Banyon, Mannix, The Magician, Police Story, and Kate McShane. He directed several TV movies, among them Assault on the Wayne, Brinks: The Great Robbery, Victory at Entebbe, and Dr. Franken. He made his motion picture directorial debut when he directed the movie Evel Knievel (1971). In the Seventies he also directed the feature films Murph the Surf (1975), Mackintosh and T.J. (1975), and Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1979).

In the Eighties Marvin J. Chomsky's career was primarily focused on mini-series and TV movies. He directed episodes of the mini-series Robert Kennedy and His Times, Peter the Great, The Deliberate Stranger, Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, Billionaire Boys Club, and Brotherhood of the Rose. He directed such TV movies as Evita Peron, Inside the Third Reich, I Am a Mail Order Bride, and I'll Be Home for Christmas. He also directed the feature film Tank (1984).

In the Nineties Marvin J. Chomsky directed episodes of the mini-series Strauss Dynasty. He directed the TV movies Telling Secrets, Triumph Over Disaster: The Hurricane Andrew Story, and Catherine the Great.

Marvin J. Chomsky was a gifted television director. He won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for Holocaust, the Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series or a Special for Attica, and Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series or a Special for Inside the Third Reich. He was nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series for Roots and Outstanding Directing in a Miniseries or a Special for Billionaire Boys Club. Mr. Chomsky had a gift for directing TV shows, miniseries, and TV movies set in different eras, as evinced by Inside the Third Reich and Peter the Great. He also had a knack for directing TV shows, miniseries, and TV movies that dealt with difficult subjects, whether it was slavery, the holocaust, or a prison uprising. Much of Marvin J. Chomsky's work went well beyond mere entertainment.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

TCM Spotlight It's About Time on Thursdays in April

TCM Spotlight is on It's About Time every Thursday in April. Each Thursday movies that touch upon time travel will air on Turner Classic Movies. They range from such  Time After Time (1979) to the dystopia Planet of the Apes (1967). If one has ever dreamed about travelling in time, then they should check out TCM Spotlight next month.

Below is the schedule for TCM Spotlight: It's About Time. All times are Central.

Thursday, April 7
7:00 PM Planet of the Apes (1967)
9:15 PM Doctor Who and the Daleks (1966)
11:00 PM Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1967)
12:30 AM 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
3:15 AM Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)
4:45 AM World Without End (1955)

Thursday, April 14
7:00 PM The Time Machine (1960)
9:00 PM Time After Time (1979)
11:00 PM As the Earth Turns (1938)
12:00 AM Time Bandits (1981)
2:15 AM Things to Come (1936)
4:00 AM La Jetee (1962)
4:30 AM Alice in Movieland (1940

Thursday, April 21
7:00 PM A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949)
9:00 PM Berkeley Square (1933)
10:45 PM It Happened Tomorrow (1944)
12:30 AM Turn Back The Clock (1933)
2:00 AM The Story of Mankind (1957)
2:45 AM The Boy and the Pirates (1960)

Thursday, April 28
7:00 PM A Matter of Life and Death (1947)
9:00 PM Brigadoon (1954)
11:00 PM Orlando (1992)
To Be Announced
3:00 AM Jubilee (1978)

Monday, March 28, 2022

For the First Time in Years I Did Not Watch the Oscars

Last night was the first time I did not watch the Academy Awards ceremony in decades. It had been a yearly ritual for my best friend Brian and I. After he died, I would exchange tweets with my dearest Vanessa Marquez while the ceremony aired live. I have continued watching the Academy Awards the past few years primarily out of fond memories of those times. Unfortunately, the Academy has been skating on thin ice with me for some time. Over the years they have snubbed many major stars in the on-air In Memoriam, from Andy Griffith in 2013 to Robert Vaughn in 2017. In 2019 they committed the greatest slight they could ever possibly have done to me by omitting my dearest Vanessa from the In Memoriam, despite the fact that a petition to include her had thousands of signatures. This year was the final straw. The American Broadcasting Company, better known as ABC, pressured the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences to cut eight categories from the live ceremony. Worse yet, the Academy acquiesced to ABC rather than telling the network where to go. For me that was enough.

The categories cut from the live ceremony were Sound, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, Production Design, Documentary Short, Animated Short, and Live Action Short. These awards were given out before the show, with the award presentations and acceptance speeches edited and then aired during the live ceremony. As a film buff I am interested in every aspect of filmmaking. Editors, makeup artists, and production designers number among my heroes. I am also interested in short subjects as well as feature films. I then want so see the craft awards and the awards for the sorts given out at the live ceremony. The Academy's decision to cut these categories from the live ceremony then angered me. They should have told ABC to go to Hell.

Indeed, in pressuring the Academy to cut these categories from the live ceremony, ABC made their contempt for film buffs clear. The Oscars are not simply a chance for the film industry to celebrate their achievements. It is a chance for film buffs to celebrate the cinema and the history of the cinema. We not only want to know what film won Best Picture or who won Best Actor, we want to know who won Best Film Editing and what won Best Animated Short. Quite simply, we want to see every single Oscar given out at the live ceremony, not film of them being given out before the show, even if it takes four hours.

Of course, the bitter irony is that in pressuring the Academy to cut the eight categories from the live ceremonies, ABC probably lost a good section of the core audience for the Oscars, all in pursuit of an audience who not only doesn't care about the Oscars, but doesn't care about movies either. I know I was not the only devoted film buff who did not watch the Academy Awards ceremony last night. I know of several others as well. In fact, I have to wonder how many people did not watch it. I can't be certain, but I don't recall the Oscars trending on Twitter last night, other than a certain incident I won't discuss here. It usually does.

As if cutting eight categories from the live ceremony last night was not enough, last night's In Memoriam may well have been the worst I have ever seen. The In Memoriam segment featured dancers and upbeat songs hardly suitable for a memorial. I love the song "Spirit in the Sky," but I really do not want to hear it played during what should be a solemn event. Indeed, in some ways I found the whole In Memoriam segment disrespectful, even though I don't think that was the intention at all. What was disrespectful about this year's on air In Memoriam were the omissions of beloved individuals. Ed Asner may have been best known for his work in television, but he made over eighty movies and was a two time president of the Screen Actors Guild as well. They also omitted Michael Nesmith (who produced movies as well as made music), Willie Garson, Bob Saget, and Norm MacDonald. While omitting these individuals, they made sure to include talent managers and agents that most Academy members and certainly the audience probably haven't heard of.

Fortunately, not everything last night at the Oscars was a catastrophe. There was a touching moment between Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli when they presented the Oscar for Best Picture. Miss Minnelli had viral encephalitis and was having some difficulty, but Lady Gaga was entirely supportive of the legend. Once I heard about it today, I had to check out the video.

There were also several historic wins. Jane Campion became only the third woman to win the Oscar for Best Director. Troy Kostur became the first deaf man to win an acting award when he won Best Supporting Actor for Coda. Ariana DeBose became the first Afro-Latina and the first queer person of colour to win an acting award when she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for West Side Story (2021). Her win also made her and Rita Moreno the first pair of actresses to win the Best Supporting Actress for the same role in different movies.

With regards to the Academy Awards, ABC has become so focused on ratings that they have lost sight of the whole purpose of the Oscars. They have ignored the fact that the Academy Awards are not simply a chance for the film industry to celebrate their achievements, but for film buffs to celebrate the cinema. In doing so they run the risk of losing the one group of people who were guaranteed to watch the Oscars every single year. If ABC wants the Academy Awards ceremony's ratings to improve, they should leave the Academy alone and let the Academy return the Oscars to their former glory. I think I can speak for most film buffs when I say that we don't care if it takes four hours.