Tuesday, May 24, 2016 2:42 PM
As a retired citizen, I enjoy the luxury of the occasional TV-day. Today was a pip—partly cloudy with showers—and check out Turner Classic Movies’ line-up for today:
6:15 AM musical Rhapsody in Blue (1945)
Synopsis: Fictionalized biography of George Gershwin and his fight to bring serious music to Broadway.
Rhapsody in Blue is a story that is as enchanting as the music of it’s central character, the legendary George Gershwin. Robert Alda plays the talented composer in this moving… More
D: Irving Rapper. Robert Alda, Joan Leslie, Alexis Smith, Oscar Levant, Charles Coburn, Julie Bishop, Albert Basserman, Morris Carnovsky, Herbert Rudley, Rosemary DeCamp, Paul Whiteman, Hazel Scott. Hollywood biography of George Gershwin is largely pulp fiction, but comes off better than most other composer biopics, capturing Gershwin’s enthusiasm for his work, and some of his inner conflicts. Highlight is virtually complete performance of title work.
8:45 AM drama Song Without End (1960)
Synopsis: Musical genius Franz Liszt betrays his lover to court a married princess.
A music-filled bio drama examining the stormy life and career of renowned Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt, whose scandalous love affair… More
Dir: Charles Vidor Cast: Dirk Bogarde , Capucine , Genevieve Page .
11:00 AM drama Song of Love (1947)
Synopsis: True story of Clara Schumann’s battle to save husband Robert’s health and resist the romantic overtures of Johannes Brahms.
The intertwined lives of the three musical legends form a Song of Love a sumptuously produced and skillfully played biopic set to 11 musical pieces that include Schumann’s Arabeske… More
D: Clarence Brown. Katharine Hepburn, Paul Henreid, Robert Walker, Henry Daniell, Leo G. Carroll, Gigi Perreau, Tala Birell, Henry Stephenson. Classy production but slow-moving story of Clara Schuman (Hepburn), her composer husband (Henreid) and good friend Brahms (Walker).
1:00 PM musical Till The Clouds Roll By (1946)
Synopsis: True story of composer Jerome Kern’s rise to the top on Broadway and in Hollywood.
D: Richard Whorf. Robert Walker, Van Heflin, Lucille Bremer, Dorothy Patrick, many guest stars including Judy Garland, Kathryn Grayson, Lena Horne, Tony Martin, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, June Allyson, Angela Lansbury, Cyd Charisse, Virginia O’Brien. Soggy biography of songwriter Jerome Kern uplifted by song numbers featuring some high-powered MGM talent. Highlights include Lansbury’s “How D’Ya Like to Spoon With Me,” Lena’s “Why Was I Born?,” Judy’s “Look for the Silver Lining,” and mini-production of Show Boat.
3:30 PM musical Song to Remember, A (1945) (70th Anniversary)
Synopsis: The famed composer Chopin sacrifices everything, even love, for his native Poland.
Cornel Wilde plays Frederic Chopin in this richly detailed bio-pic which highlights the famous composer’s relationship with the unconventional author George Sand (Merle Oberon)…. More
D: Charles Vidor. Cornel Wilde, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Stephen Bekassy, Nina Foch, George Coulouris, Sig Arno. Colorful but superficial biography of Chopin (Wilde) with exaggerated Muni as his mentor, lovely Oberon as George Sand; good music, frail plot.
5:30 PM musical Great Waltz, The (1972)
Synopsis: Musical biography of Johann Strauss, the man known as “The Waltz King.
Dir: Andrew L. Stone Cast: Horst Buchholz , Mary Costa , Rossano Brazzi
Not that I watched all of it—and some of these films are already familiar to me from frequent viewings—it’s just nice to know that I can retire to the TV at any time of the day and watch a nice old classic. TCM has plenty of days when they focus on different themes that I love less—so I enjoy it when they serve up a heaping helping of schmaltz—preferably with lots of music. Katherine Hepburn emoting her way through Clara Schumann’s ‘life’—can you beat that for schmaltz? “Song Of Love” is also notable for perhaps being the film with the most actors spending the most time pretending to play virtuoso piano.
I get diminishing returns from TCM these days—partly from becoming over-familiar with certain classics, and partly from TCM broadening its repertoire to include a lot of movies that have historical, even artistic merit—but are still pale shadows of whichever classic film they are a descendant of. I use to watch any movie TCM put on, if I hadn’t seen it before—but sometimes they get into a theme like ‘noir’, which I can only take so much of. And the ‘silents’, while majestic, some of them, take a certain mood to appreciate—and I’m rarely in that mood at midnight.
TCM is the ultimate example of how one movie can be watched repeatedly, like eating comfort food—it doesn’t entertain so much as soothe the soul. Examples (for me) include: “I Remember Mama”, “Dark Victory”, “Casablanca”, and “Random Harvest”. I could list others all day. Other movies I like to catch at ‘the good part’, but I rarely sit through all of.
As I watch the new movies that appear on my On Demand menu, I’m struck by how a new movie, by and large, doesn’t call for a second viewing. In fact, I often have trouble remembering if I’ve watched some new movies—the experience was that unremarkable, even after paying for the privilege. But a really good movie—that’s something else again—it’s a mystery. A mystery that I’m sure Hollywood would love to solve. I bet it’s something that the crew and lesser players could tell them—it’s probably something to do with the interaction of the players. But then again, a good story is essential—like I say—it’s a mystery.