It’s that time again: recommendations (in film, literature or music) from the staff of your local public library. Today, Librarian Ed Burns is up to bat – which means fellow movie buffs would be wise to take note. Ed, our in-house cinephile is currently hosting/curating a program of classic films, specifically presented on the Blu-Ray format, every first Monday of the month, in autumn.
Ed displays his keen taste and wide grasp of the art of film by pairing more widely known titles with complementary works that flew under the radar. (I’ve never seen The Battle of Cable Hogue, but I’ve got it in my “queue” now!)
In the meantime, Ed’s “Classics On Blu-Ray” continues at 7:30 p.m., Nov.4, in our Community Room featuring “Sunset Boulevard.”
Ed’s Simpatico-Cinematico (Double Features)
When I was growing up, most movie theaters, and of course
all drive-ins, showed double features. I can still remember some of these cinematic pairings. Some were matches made in movie-lover heaven
(Plague of the Zombies and Dracula Prince of Darkness). Others were more incongruous (Play it Again Sam and Lady Sings the Blues). Sometimes I’ll watch a movie and think
that it would make a good companion piece with another film I’ve seen. Here are a few you might enjoy.
Unfaithfully Yours (1948) – DVD COMEDY U
Sudden Fear (1952) – DVD DRAMA S
In Sudden Fear, Joan Crawford suspects her younger husband is cheating on her and plots his demise. In Unfaithfully Yours, Rex Harrison suspects his younger wife is cheating on him and plots her demise. One is the quintessential melodrama. The other, written and directed by the brilliant Preston Sturges, is one of the funniest comedies ever made.
The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) – DVD DRAMA B
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) – DVD SCI-FI/FANTASY M
The Ballad of Cable Hogue is a western directed by Sam Peckinpah, and it’s certainly his most gentle film. Jason Robards plays an unsuccessful prospector who is left in the desert to die by his two slimy partners. He finds water, and starts a business servicing stagecoaches. Robards is superb and is matched by the entire cast. In The Man Who Fell to Earth, David Bowie is perfection as a being from a technologically advanced planet. He comes to Earth searching for water, to save his planet that is dying for lack of it. About two-thirds into it, it gets weird and kind of boring for awhile. But stick with it. Both films share themes of isolation, entrepreneurship, and the vitalness of water. Each also features a sublime performance by actresses who should have done better in Hollywood: Stella Stevens (Ballad) and Candy Clark (Man).
The Graduate (1967) – DVD COMEDY G
The Heartbreak Kid (1972) – DVD COMEDY H
In the late '50s and early '60s, Mike Nichols and Elaine May were a highly regarded comedy team, but split up to pursue separate careers. Both became film directors, with Nichols achieving the greater success. These black comedies about the upper middle-class are the sophomore efforts of each. The Graduate, directed by Nichols, made an overnight star of Dustin Hoffman who plays the title character, a floundering young man who is seduced by the older Mrs. Robinson and proceeds to fall in love with her daughter. In May’s The Heartbreak Kid, Jewish couple Charles Grodin and Jeannie Berlin marry and head to Miami for their honeymoon. The bride promptly gets a severe sunburn, leaving her bedridden. Free to frolic on his own, Grodin meets and falls for the WASPy Cybill Shepherd. While it did receive some acclaim, The Heartbreak Kid didn’t make as big of a splash as the now classic The Graduate. I actually think it’s the better movie though. Top off the evening by watching some of Nichols' and May’s routines on YouTube.
A Walk on the Moon (1999) – DVD DRAMA W
Unfaithful (2002) – DVD DRAMA U
In each of these films, Diane Lane cuckolds her husband and has to face the consequences. It eludes me why anyone would be unsatisfied with either Liev Schrieber (Walk) or Richard Gere (Unfaithful). But who am I to judge the follies of the human heart?