Saturday, 13 September 2008

TCM in Britain: Iconista is Very Cross Indeed

My router died last week and I was without internet for 3 days. I'm still catching up.

One of the first things I did when I got back online was check out TCM's US site. I've been meaning to do so for weeks. How I wish I hadn't!

Oh, how lucky Americans are. Classics movies just pour from TCM like wine at a Roman banquet. Dear, dear Americans! Come to Britain and experience our version of TCM. A film called Hot Millions has been playing for months now. Joan Crawford might turn up once every six weeks, but only in Mildred Pierce - a film I love, but not to the exclusion of all others. If you want to see how little TCM loves the Brits, just visit their British site and, if you can get it to work properly on your browser, check out the "listing page". You will find the whole month's viewing appear as a amateurish pdf through which you have to scroll back and forth trying to keep track of the clumsy three column layout. The government's fact sheet on Filling in Your Tax Return is more user friendly.

Let me compare today's offering. In the US, TCM is screening Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, You Can't Take It With You and My Favorite Wife in succession and before midday. I dare not even look at their prime time offerings lest I choke with rage and frustration.

In the UK we have Calling Bulldog Drummond (again - but at least it's not Travels With My Aunt again). Then In Our Time; Ida Lupino? Yes. But a classic? I think not. That is followed by Light in the Piazza, a film made in 1962 and starring Olivia de Havilland; no doubt she provides a worthy performance, but this was clearly not the height of her career.

Indeed, TCM describes Light in the Piazza as "a lovely romance with pragmatic undertones". It says of In Our Time, "what it lacked in action, [it] made up with a strong cast". Do these sound like ringing endorsements? I suspect that In Our Time's only point of interest is the appearance of Nazimova for the first time since the 20s, a fact made more poignant because it was to be her last screen performance. She died the following year.

Nazimova as Camille 1921

Feel free to comment if you've a) heard of any of these films, or b) ever enjoyed watching them. Perhaps I'm just too narrow-minded. My personal theory is that, when TCM buys films for the US, it is required to buy up a load of dross which it happily offloads onto the European market assuming we don't know any better, or care.

So, AJ, you carry on enjoying your Kay Francis season. Tonight we have The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight: "a caper comedy with early starring role for Robert De Niro as a member of a gang of ludicrously bumbling crooks . Based on Jimmy Breslin's novel. Actor: Robert De Niro, Jerry Orbach, Leigh Taylor­Young, Jo Van Fleet, Lionel Stander. Director: James Goldstone. 93 mins, PG, Colour (1971)"

I can hardly wait.

1 comment:

amodernguy said...

The comment you left on my blog has has mysteriously disappeared. I just wanted to let you know I appreaciated it and was glad you popped in. I hope you do again.