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Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Stuff I Burned From TCM, Part 6
DVDs have been a part of our lives for over ten years, and while it seems everything has finally been released it’s almost surprising that there are still some amazing movies that are still not available. Thanks to Turner Classic Movies (TCM) these films can still be viewed and enjoyed, never to be forgotten. By the way, some of the films I’ve written about in past blogs have eventually seen a release, like “Wild Boys of the Road”, so hope springs eternal.
Mickey One (1965): Mickey One (played by Warren Beatty) is a lounge lizard Joseph K who runs from invisible killers for a transgression that’s never explained to him. Was it for unpaid gambling debts and fucking the mob boss’ mistress? The dazzling black and white cinematography recalls Robert Frank’s legendary book “The Americans” offset by Stan Getz’s lush film score. This is easily Warren Beatty’s finest performance and one of the most bizarre Hollywood productions ever. Thanks, Columbia Pictures!
The World’s Greatest Sinner (1962): Timothy Carey’s wild brainchild nightmare movie. A bored insurance salesman decides to get into the God business and uses rock ‘n roll as a means to enlist people to his self-made religion. This concept must have been pretty daring in its time (1962) and several more popular films later ran with the idea, “Wild in the Streets”, to name an example. The rock concert scenes are genuinely exciting (watch Carey wiggle like a worm in gold lame!). I think David Lynch could learn a thing or two about surrealism when the climactic black and white footage is intercut with color showing Carey insanely laughing as he stabs a wafer expecting it to bleed.
The Twonky (1953): Arch Obler of “Lights Out” fame directed this sci-fi comedy about a television set that hypnotizes people and controls its owner, Hans Conreid. The TV set is actually an alien from a far-away planet, but never strikes me as sinister. It happily helps Conreid wash the dishes, shave and light his pipe in a matter of seconds, all at the same time, so much for world domination. That’s a pretty domestic alien! The Twonky’s also crazy for marching band music. Although this came around the era of space war movies like “War of the Worlds” this is more like “Gumby”.
Brighton Rock (1947): Brighton is the British equivalent to Atlantic City, a happy seaside playground, which provides the setting for this British noir, the best in my opinion. The happy setting provides a sick counterpoint to all the ominous crimes they commit. Adapted from the Graham Greene novel, Richard Attenborough plays Pinky, a cold blooded-killer who’s so out of control his gang decides to ice him. He’s onto their game, of course, and fleeing from them he meets a naïve waitress, who falls madly in love with his baby-faced good looks. Her loyalty is like none he’s ever experienced and he slowly learns the value of love, an alien concept to him up until now. This is very similar to the theme of another Greene story, “A Gun For Hire”.