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Movies after 1970 on TCM

Discussion of programming on TCM.

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kingrat
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Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby kingrat » January 25th, 2011, 7:21 pm

I thought we might start a thread for movies from the 70s or after. Some people don't want TCM to show them. Although I'm sympathetic to that viewpoint, nonetheless the movies I've enjoyed the most recently are The Road Builder (1971), Badlands (1973), and Missing (1982), and let's hope the VCR got Wise Blood (1979) recorded.

The Road Builder may essentially be an update of Night Must Fall, but with quality directing by Alastair Reed and superlative acting by Patricia Neal and Pamela Brown, that doesn't matter. Nicholas Clay, clothed or not, isn't too shabby, either. All this and music by Bernard Herrmann. As in quite a few early 70s films, the ending is a bit abrupt. I believe that a fully worked-out ending felt somewhat false to filmmakers of the time.

Badlands seems much too accomplished to be a first film. How many filmmakers are equally good at writing (including dialogue that works in the context of story and images rather than calling attention to its own cleverness) and at the visual aspect of film? Terrence Malick, for one. To me, the center of Badlands is the disjunction between the events of the story and the way the story is told, including the voiceover by Sissy Spacek and the beautiful color cinematography. Even when Holly (Spacek) isn't in the scene, we seem to be experiencing things the way she was told about them or imagined them. Arguably, Martin Sheen is too clean-cut and middle-class to play Kit, but isn't this how Holly sees him? Unfortunately, I had to watch the movie in two sittings, utterly captivated by the first half and not quite so much by the last third or quarter of the film. Whether the film actually lost a bit of steam or I just didn't have the same concentration was hard to tell. Anyway, an amazing film.

Luise Rainer's distinction in her interview between "acting" and "being" applies beautifully to Sissy Spacek, who seems totally natural in Badlands and Missing, as she usually does. Spacek has chosen well in her film projects, and talented directors have wanted to work with her. She doesn't have a great range of characters, but she knows how her women think and feel. Can anyone else imagine D.W. Griffith encouraging her to twitter around as a Dear One or a Pet Sister or a Mountain Girl? Spacek can play characters who suggest that description, but she plays them from their own point of view.

TCM City's resident curmudgeon, Fred C. Dobbs, encouraged us to watch Missing, and good for him. As the overthrow of Allende recedes into history, Missing seems more about the dangerous innocence of the American father and son, different as their political views are, who don't understand how privileged their lives have been and how precarious life really is. Because Costa-Gavras doesn't portray the Allende government directly, but only shows the brutality of the coup, the events of the story could be taking place in many different countries yesterday, today, or tomorrow. Costa-Gavras favors cool colors and uses almost no close-ups. The arguments between Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek are mostly filmed from a more distant camera angle than you might expect. Many filmmakers would use jerky hand-held cameras, shock cuts to bleeding bodies, etc. The director gives us more distance, sure in the emotional power of his story.

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby mrsl » January 26th, 2011, 5:12 pm

.
Kingrat:

At one time, I was ferociously against anything post 1960 being shown on TCM, but by doing so, I limited several very good movies offered in the 70's and early 80's. I wouldn't go much further than that however, because suddenly directing and editing seemed to implode. I can't tell you what I would give to see a new romantic movie tagging along inside of a murder mystery. I'm reading books of that type all the time, but only directors on LIfetime (a woman's TV station), seem to be drawing their screenplays from that category. Except for the commercials, made for Lifetime movies offer a lot more quality and performance than nearly anything that comes out of a theater today. As always there are exceptions to this, but for the most part this is true if you just want an old style, cuddle up on the couch movie. If I had held myself to that 1960 lockup, I would have missed The Contender, Tootsie, The Bridges of Madison County, and so many others, but they were few and far between. You have to really look for them. Oddly in the case of Red River, the western channel was playing the remake with Jim Arness as Dunston, which was really quite good, but somebody must have said something, because for the past two months, they are back to playing the original with the Duke. The same thing happened with Cape Fear and Father of the Bride. Every Assistant Director thinks he or she can direct their own movie now because they got experience on their other movies, but it takes years to learn how to read an actor and pull those sensitive emotions out. It has been said that Clint Eastwood never really directs, just says what he wants and lets the actor go. The difference is that he knows his actors. He knows Sean Penn can be rabidly emotional, and Kevin Bacon an iron jawed cop, etc. So he doesn't have much to do as far as directing goes, but he's been around and looking and learning for sixty years now. One of his first directing jobs won him academy attention, so apparently he learned what he needed.

So you see Kingrat, as long as TCM continues its level of quality up to the bar, post 60's are fine with me.
.
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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby kingrat » January 27th, 2011, 5:30 pm

If you grew up in a world where you could turn on TV and find evangelists with names like J. Bazzel Mull, the characters in Wise Blood (1979) seem like relatives, classmates, and neighbors. If, on the other hand, they seem like freakazoids, you probably didn't grow up in the South. A film like The Human Comedy (1943), artfully crafted as it is, gives a vision of home that seems about as real to me as a cheap back projection; the scenery in Wise Blood put a smile on my face as it brought back memories of home--granted that home is a place where you might not necessarily want to live.

Wise Blood is about as good an adaptation of a literary classic as you're likely to find. Brad Dourif was born to play Hazel Motes. Dan Shor is perhaps cuter and more pathetic than the novel's Enoch Emory, who was more resilient and more lower class, but Shor makes us believe that Enoch would do exactly the things he does, which is the most important thing. The adapters don't solve the novel's one structural weakness, which is that Enoch drops out of the story after he steals the gorilla suit. Amy Wright is a hoot as Sabbath Lily, Harry Dean Stanton and Ned Beatty are perfectly typecast, and when William Hickey plays one of the more normal people in the film, that says a great deal. The movie builds up the role of the landlady, and Marynell Santacroce makes that seem like a good idea. I love the way that the car becomes an important character in the film, and the sound department has great fun with the noises it makes. Hazel insists that it's a good car that will get him where he wants to go, and nothing could show us more clearly how wrong he is.

Flannery O'Connor, a Catholic in the South and therefore an outsider, was fascinated by the peculiarities of extreme Protestant fundamentalism. She shared the ferocity of that view of God and sin, but leavened it with the grace of ironic humor. Although I would prefer a crisper attack to the beginning of the film, Huston does a fine job of realizing O'Connor's work on film. It's truly odd that the films that feel the most authentically Southern to me were directed by Huston; by a Greek born in Turkey (Kazan's Wild River); and by an Englishman (Michael Apted's Coal Miner's Daughter).

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby moira finnie » January 27th, 2011, 5:49 pm

It's truly odd that the films that feel the most authentically Southern to me were directed by Huston; by a Greek born in Turkey (Kazan's Wild River); and by an Englishman (Michael Apted's Coal Miner's Daughter).


Maybe the reason for the insight into the South was because those directors brought an outsider's fresh eye to the material? I'd no idea that you were originally from the South, king. Please don't take this the wrong way, but you don't write with an accent, though you definitely have a gift for a turn of phrase! Have you ever thought about compiling a list of the worst and best Southern movies as seen through the Hollywood lens?

Regarding movies after 1970 on TCM, I wouldn't watch the network if the majority of films were post-1970, but some from that period are great and should be shared there. Terence Malick's movies, for example, from Badlands to The Thin Red Line and The New World belongs there. I wouldn't want those low budget programmers from the 1930s or 1940s to disappear from the schedule either, which I do have concerns about sometimes because I feel that the network may sometimes be under pressure to make their audience broader and younger by showing big budget films and favorites from the studio era. I love movies like Double Indemnity, The Magnificent Seven, and The Philadelphia Story but don't want to see them rotated too often. I know it is hard for some of us to understand such strange behavior, but I imagine that many people may be put off by a Torchy Blaine marathon or a Donald Meek block of programming.

I'm sure the more orthodox members of the TCM audience will cavil a bit about some of the newer films that will undoubtedly be aired in the coming 31 Days of Oscar, though there should be some interesting choices too.
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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby mrsl » January 29th, 2011, 1:49 pm

.
Kingrat:

I am one of those people who never heard of Wise Blood. Is that the name of both the book and the movie? Born and raised in Chicago, some parts of The Human Comedy ring 100% true for me. Although I was just a baby, I do remember the parties that were held for my three uncles when they returned from WWII. On the other hand, I remember the tears and anger displayed when my younger brother left for Viet Nam. I remember walking down the street at dusk as well as complete dark with no worries about getting home safely.

As for post 1970, I've already given my opinion, but I would be one of those curled up on the couch to watch a 24 hour marathon of Torchy Blaine, especially when played by Ann Sothern.
.
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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby otterhere » February 3rd, 2011, 4:58 pm

I'm not a fan of the modern movies. TCM, to me, is all about what you can't find anywhere else. Yes, sometimes that's a new movie such as The Roadbuilder (rarely), but I really do not need to see "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" three times a month or "Badlands" or any other bad 70s/80s movie I can rent for a dollar at the video store. TCM should be about class AND the past, in my opinion. We should find here what we CAN'T find on AMC or any other channel of mediocrity. Silents, foreign films, art films... The obscure, the lost, the forgotten... And, yes, the (old) classics...

I notice TCM becoming more PC and commercial as time goes on and R.O. growing older, and I do lose sleep over it... :(

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby moira finnie » February 3rd, 2011, 5:18 pm

Otter!

Thanks for posting your thoughts. Your passion for the old, the obscure and the classics is shared, though I can see that a few post-1970 films are worthwhile, we'll never feel as fond of them as the studio era movies. It's great to see you here.
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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby otterhere » February 3rd, 2011, 5:22 pm

Thanks, Moira; good to be back! FB has kind of taken over my online life, lol, but still have the passion for TCM...

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 3rd, 2011, 6:30 pm

Perhaps the best understanding of the Turner network lies in their title. This is not an old movie channel, but one that shows classic films. While you can definitely make a case that classic status is best evaluated through the lens of time (i.e.: older works), we've all seen enough bad movies to know that every pre-1970 film is not a classic.

I agree that the preservation of film history is important and TCM does more than its fair share, but there are many great works of the 70's and beyond that also need restoration, distribution, and a network to champion their cause, or they will also be lost to future generations.

As for TCM becoming more commercial and Osborne's age, this is something that posters bring up every February, yet TCM still continues to find and show OOP films from the American studio era (and the average is pretty much the same from year to year) while also bringing many of these works to DVD. The biggest difference is what they are willing to show in Prime Time, which is understandable since they must attract new fans to replace the old ones (I'd rather not mention what happens to them). Still, all good things must come to an end sometime and it's entirely possible that TCM might disappear or change formats--that's why I'm recording everything I can now.

Nice to see you again Otter. 8) It's been a long time.

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby JackFavell » February 4th, 2011, 10:23 am

I know what you mean, I certainly would rather watch movies from the 10's, 20's, 30' and 40's, even maybe the 50's, than from the 60's and 70's or up. However, I am starting to appreciate the films of the 50's and 60's thanks to this channel. I alrready liked a lot of the seventies movies, because that was a time in which classic film came back into style and influenced a whole new generation of film-makers.

I'm a big fan of TCM, and one of the reasons I am is their ability to mix it up. They have absolutely the best programming on television. As far as I am concerned, they are the boldest of all the channels in their programming, and if it is a movie from 1917 or 1977, my feeling is, if they show it, there is a reason.

P.S. I don't always want to see "classy", though I am kind of snobby about that. Sometimes I just want to see Wheeler and Woolsey.

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby moira finnie » February 4th, 2011, 11:17 am

JackFavell wrote:P.S. I don't always want to see "classy", though I am kind of snobby about that. Sometimes I just want to see Wheeler and Woolsey.

I know what you mean. I find that I miss the oddball movies from the 20s-50s when TCM devotes 31 Days to Oscar Winning movies. It's like eating prime rib every day. Wonderful, yes--but as a constant diet, uh-uh.
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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby JackFavell » February 4th, 2011, 12:17 pm

That's it! It's so funny! A couple weeks ago, I was enjoying Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which I think might be each of them's best movie. Yesterday, when it came on, I literally groaned. Too much red meat. :D

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby otterhere » February 4th, 2011, 5:08 pm

Nice to see you again Otter. It's been a long time.

You, too; miss you guys! Guess we'd better chat all we can before... Well, we won't mention what happens to old fans... :wink:

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby kingrat » May 2nd, 2013, 6:08 pm

The showing of the newly restored BADLANDS on the big screen didn’t change my already high opinion of the movie, but what a great pleasure to see it. Ben Mankiewicz interviewed the producer, Ed Pressman Jr., and the associate editor, Billy Weber. Sean Cameron from the network introduced Ben by saying that now that Ben has a daughter, he will understand every father’s fear: that his teenage daughter will meet someone like Charlie Starkweather. Ben commented that BADLANDS is the film from the 70s where you can least imagine anyone else playing the leads (I agree).

The production hung by a thread more than once. There were three cinematographers. The editor left after eight months, replaced by the associate editor, Billy Weber. Nonetheless, the film maintains a consistent style. A line producer split with Malick and told Pressman’s mother, who had put up much of the money, that the film was a mess and should shut down. Instead, she put in more money. Pressman’s family was in the toy business, and he knew filmmakers like Scorsese and Coppola in NYC.

After the film was shown at the New York Film Festival and received a rave review from Vincent Canby in the New York Times, Warner Brothers bought the distribution rights for a million dollars, more than it had cost to make the film. Warren Oates said that this was the first time he ever actually received a deferred payment for a film. (Salaries are often deferred on smaller productions until the movie makes money, but then it rarely does.) Something you just couldn’t make up: with the usual wisdom of film studios, they sneak previewed the movie at a showing of BLAZING SADDLES. The PR guy said that the preview cards were the worst he had ever seen. The studio then premiered the film at the Village Theater in Westwood, which was quite large and poorly attended. WB opened its big film of the year, THE EXORCIST, soon after and directed all its attention there.

However, Pressman was able to build an audience for BADLANDS by opening it in a series of smaller locations (Little Rock, Memphis, Dallas) where they could afford to buy spots on local TV. As the good reviews came in and the film gained momentum, it was re-released. Pressman commented that that would never happen now.

Billy Weber said that Malick likes to go down the garden path and see what he can find. He allows you to express your own creativity. Malick was a protégé of Arthur Penn at AFI.

In one scene Sissy Spacek looks down from her room and sees two little boys under a streetlight. They are Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen.

I notice that in my original review, which started this thread, I felt that the film lost some momentum in the last portion. That was not how it felt on the big screen. This time through, I also noticed the music more.

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Re: Movies after 1970 on TCM

Postby Lzcutter » May 2nd, 2013, 9:02 pm

David,

Another great 1970s film at the TCM Film Festival was Deliverance. Introduced by Jon Voight (more gracious than I would have ever imagined given his persona the last ten plus years), Ned Beatty (who stole the show with his sense of humor), Burt Reynolds (more frail than we would have wanted but still a presence) and director John Boorman, (whose Irish lilt I could listen to all day). Co-star Ronny Cox was unable to make it due to being on the road in his other capacity as a musician.

Seeing the movie on the big screen reminded both MrCutter and me of how well this movie has aged. If you only saw the movie on its original release (like MrC and me), I cannot encourage you enough to give it another viewing. It has aged very well.

One of the big revelations of seeing it on the big screen was Jon Voight in the latter part of the film when he and Reynolds basically change characters. Voight takes on many of Reynolds characterizations and body movements, all of which I missed the first time around.

And the cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond is absolutely beautiful.

It is definitely worth watching again.
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