By John Seal
July 23, 2012
From the obscure to the obscurest to the merely overlooked or underappreciated; they all have a home in the TiVoPlex! All times Pacific.
The Secret of the Grain (2007 FRA): Ah, the humble peasant epic. No, I don't mean an epic film about humble peasants...I mean the film itself, which is usually abrim with peasants of varying temperaments, lazy fields of wheat wafting in the breeze, and sex with farm animals. No, I've never fully recovered from that scene in Tree of Wooden Clogs where the 12-year-old boy chokes - sorry, pokes - the chicken. As for Secret of the Grain, well, it's not actually a peasant epic at all, but an industrial working class one about an elderly shipyard worker (Habib Boufares) trying to keep on keeping on against increasingly long odds. At 151 minutes in length, you'll need to activate the Magic Fingers in your La-Z-Boy to make it all the way to the end of the film, which was a monster hit on the festival circuit and also cleaned up at the Cesars. In its original French, the title is La Graine et le Mulet. Git ‘er done!
6:45 PM Turner Classic Movies
Berkeley Square (1933 USA): No nightingales singing in this Berkeley Square. In fact, nothing and no one sings in it - despite its title, this is not a musical, but a romantic fantasy starring Leslie Howard as Peter Standish, resident of a 150-year old house who is transported back in time 150 years one day to experience the thrills, chills, and patriotic fervor of the American Revolution. Based on a play by John Balderston, this is a talky piece of fluff that takes a while to take off, but offers an amusing and occasionally insightful look at early 20th century attitudes about life in "the good old days." Apparently this was H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite movie, which is really, really weird.
6:00 AM Fox Movie Channel
Phone Call from a Stranger (1952 USA): Shelley Winters gets top billing in this excellent drama directed by Jean Negulesco. Shelley, still in her svelte period, plays Binky Gay, a passenger on a weather-delayed flight who meets fellow traveler David Trask (Gary Merrill) as they wait to take off. David is running away from home and flying under an assumed name (oh, for the days when that was possible!), but things take an unexpected turn when the plane crashes. Yep, that’ll put a crimp in your escape plans! Co-starring Michael Rennie, Keenan Wynn, Bette Davis and Evelyn Varden, this is an unusual and very interesting feature with some terrific black and white cinematography courtesy Milton Krasner.
10:15 AM The Movie Channel
Burden of Dreams (1982 USA): Les Blank's salute to obsessive German filmmaker Werner Herzog returns to the small screen tonight. Shot whilst Herzog was producing Fitzcarraldo, the film highlights the on-set squabbles between Herzog and star Klaus Kinski and the over-the-top decisions made by the director, such as the infamous sequence wherein Amazonian tribesmen were hired to haul a fully assembled riverboat up a hillside. Featuring valuable footage of Jason Robards and Mick Jagger, both of whom left the production early, Burden of Dreams is fitting tribute to one of the greatest of all filmmakers, who has defied the odds by continuing to produce excellent work (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Into the Abyss) to this very day. Also airs at 1:15 PM.