Thursday, July 26, 2007

Turner Classic Movies.

I vaguely recall in the 1980's a minor scandal erupting when Ted Turner purchased many old films, particularly black and white films from the Pre Code era, and decided to color them and broadcast them on his new cable movie channel, Turner Classic Movies. Filmgoers collectively let a very Margaret Dumont-esque "Well I NEVAH!" which seemed to just egg Turner on and he actually broadcast a few colorized versions of classics like Casablanca.

Well, Turner Classic Movies (heretoforward, TCM) is still on cable and has become my favorite cable channel, bar none. I no longer see any threats of colorized classics, simply threats of a drunken Carrie Fisher arguing film with the ever-likeable Robert Osbourne (who seems to handle his alkie-hall much better). The secret behind what is now the best movie channel on TV is their extensive library of Pre-Code pictures. Go look up Pre-Code on Wikipedia if you don't already know what I am going for, but TCM on a very regular basis showcases such gems as Night Nurse starring Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell as salt of the earth, fun-loving, private nurses devoted to saving the lives of young poisoned children...poisoned by a junkie doctor in cahoots with a shady chauffeur played by a whiskerless Clark Gable! You cannot get better than this.

I plan to begin reviewing some of these classics here on this blog as it is my belief that once this infamous code came into place, American film never quite recovered. Sure, we all know this as college-educated little intellectuals, right? WRONG. Somehow we believe that the Golden Age of Hollywood was the early 1970's when the hotshit, renegade directors like Altman were smoking a bunch of weed and making their wackadoodle extend-a-movies or when every other movie was some paranoid freakout starring Gene Hackman (I love him too, but hear me out here)...sure, that stuff is great, but trumpeting that mess in your 30's is truly akin to a 17 year old reading The Dharma Bums and then going to the mall and talking really loudly so everyone can hear you about how intense it is. Psst... I cringe thinking about me or you doing that. I really do.

So, do yourself a favor. Scan TCM for a Pre-Code film sometime and hell, if you must smoke a joint to enjoy it, go ahead, I'll give you that. Watch the glossy mouth of Joan Blondell as she smacks gum and tell me if you don't have an epiphany right there. Just tell me that isn't as incredible as Gene Hackman breaking down that tape in The Conversation any day.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summer Reading Mach II

I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, Amy Sedaris 2006. This is seriously my new Bible. How did I miss this kookball's genius until now? Well, it is actually OK because I have lots of material to catch up on. I checked this gem out of the library and bought it on Amazon the same night. Pure and utter brilliance aka insanity. I have been known to carry this book to bars in town and force it's message on other drunk people. It has worked with gays and smart people. Addendum to the last sentence (7/9): And apparently, swingers.

Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco, Peter Shapiro 2005. I am obviously digging the book with a subtitle (is that would you'd call that?) I always think it makes your book or article or essay look as if you are really smart and telling us something important. Sometimes you actually do. So far, Mr. Shapiro is. I like his background info that makes NYC seem like it was a scary hellhole a la The Warriors. He isn't really talking about disco yet, but I can tell he is getting around to it. Tres bien, Mr. Shapiro! Please do not spare details on sex and drugs while sounding smart--you can do both.