By John Seal
June 17, 2013
From the obscure to the obscurest to the merely overlooked or underappreciated; they all have a home in the TiVoPlex! All times Pacific.
1:10 AM Encore Love Stories
The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965 GB): Inspired by the critical and boxoffice success of 1963’s Tom Jones, filmmakers took up the cause of 18th century fiction and proceeded to churn out a plethora of inferior adaptations. Amongst the crowd is this big screen version of Daniel Defoe’s novel The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders – and though I’ve never read the book, I suspect the film doesn’t do it justice. Directed by Terence Young, it features Kim Novak as the titular young woman of low breeding who uses her body to charm her way to the top of English society. As one might suspect, the focus of the film is on her bedroom adventures, including those with thief-with-a-heart-of-gold Jemmy (Richard Johnson) with whom she eventually absconds to America. The film is silly fluff but beautifully shot in Shropshire by Ted Moore, and features a decent supporting cast, including Angela Lansbury, Leo McKern, and Lilli Palmer. Unavailable on DVD, The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flander will be done no favors by what will probably be a pan-and-scan screening, but is rare enough to warrant a look.
4:50 AM Encore
The Song Remains the Same (1973 GB): Decades after the fact, Led Zeppelin's massive popularity confounds me more than ever – and this film does nothing for their legacy. Except for Stairway to Heaven and the horrendously misogynistic Whole Lotta Love, Zep sticks to a pattern: Jimmy Page flails, Robert Plant moans, John Paul Jones plays jazzy riffs, and John Bonham solos for fifteen minutes, during which the film consists of poorly mounted "fantasy" sequences. The only fun stuff is the backstage footage where we get to see the king of bombast, manager Peter Grant, abusing stadium employees. I'd need a rider's worth of mind-altering substances to enjoy any of this monotonous and tedious "documentary", but if you’re a Zep fan you’ll probably love every moment – especially as it’s been well over ten years since it last showed up on the small screen. Also airs at 7:50 AM.
5:30 AM HBO Signature
Espacio Interior (2012 MEX-ESP): Kuno Becker stars as a kidnap victim in this spare but effective feature from first-time director Kai Parlange Tessmann. Becker plays Lazaro, a man held for ransom in a tiny room with a window, a toilet, four walls, and nothing else. Espacio Interior examines the physical and emotional toll this "interior space" takes on him – not least when he suddenly finds himself free again. This unusual drama should be avoided if you’re not keen on lingering shots of grotty commodes.
3:45 AM Turner Classic Movies
The Thirteenth Chair (1937 USA): Did you miss this one when it aired last month? I know I did. Here’s what I wrote about it prior to that screening:
Not to be confused with either 1919’s or 1929’s The Thirteenth Chair (the former is lost, the latter one of Tod Browning’s more obscure efforts), this is a very entertaining MGM second feature starring Dame May Whitty as Madame La Grange, a medium hired by the police to assist in a murder investigation. How does she help? Why, by holding a seance, of course – one to which a number of suspects and red herrings have been invited so that Inspector Marney (Lewis Stone) can ferret out the culprit. Instead of solving the crime, however, the seance muddies the waters, as one of the participants ends up dead when the lights unexpectedly go out. A wealth of familiar faces enliven the film, including Elisa Landi, Holmes Herbert, and Henry Daniell.