We're going to make this week's DVR theater, really simple. A genius programmer at Turner Classic Movies has made the decision to screen the four fantastic films back to back to back to back on Thursday, July 5th, so my biggest piece of advice - set the DVR starting at 8:00 PM Eastern, 7 PM Central and let it go all night (or until the final selection concludes). Your reward will be a DVR filled with the following classics.
Thursday, July 5
Turner Classic Movies - 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central
Ace in the Hole
The great Billy Wilder directs and Kirk Douglas stars in this once-lost classic. When it came out in 1951, it was both a critical and commercial flop (it was also called The Big Carnival back then - against Wilder's wishes). Thankfully, it's been reclaimed and restored because in the 60 years that have passed since its release, the only thing that seems dated are the vehicles. It's relentlessly cynical portrait of the media makes even more sense today. A stunner.
Turner Classic Movies - 10:00 PM Eastern, 9:00 PM Central
The Night of the Hunter
Actor Charles Laughton directed only one movie and thank God he did, because it's one of the strangest, best, most influential movies of all time. The Night of the Hunter is filled with strange sets, oddly-angled shots, and striking shadows (he was heavily influenced by German Expressionism) and is anchored by a searing lead performance by Robert Mitchum. By now, the character he portrays here is common in movies - the criminal posing as preacher - but it was an original then. As you watch the film, you'll note things you've seen in later movies: Mitchum has LOVE tattooed on the fingers of one hand and HATE on the other, the children's trip down the river has influenced countless similar shots. Filmmakers from David Lynch, to Martin Scorsese, to Jim Jarmusch call claim to be influenced by this one. This classic is still under seen today. Don't continue to let that happen.
Turner Classic Movies - 11:45 PM Eastern, 10:45 PM Central
On the Waterfront
Nominated for 12 Academy Awards and winning eight of them, On the Waterfront was a career high point for director Elia Kazan and further cemented Marlin Brando's reputation as the actor of his day. Here he plays former prizefighter Terry Malloy, now a longshoreman working on the docks and trying to rid his union of corruption and mob influence. Kazan readily admits that this film is a thinly-veiled look at the time he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee and named names, and it's pretty obvious if you know the back story. But that's not what matters here - what matters is that despite becoming the stuff of parody over time, Brando's "I coulda been a contender" scene still resonates still. Brando made emotional pain masculine and he changed the acting world forever. See why.
Turner Classic Movies - 1:45 AM Eastern, 12:45 AM Central
A Face in the Crowd
Boy howdy, I can't wait for you all to see this one! First, it's back-to-back Kazan, so if you weren't already a fan of his filmmaking, you can be now (even if you're not a fan of his politics). Second, yes that is Andy Griffith and yes, he plays a folksy down-home Southern charmer. But this charmer is hiding a snake. He's discovered in the drunk tank and brought to a radio station to sing his folk songs by Patricia Neal (2008 NaFF Career Achievement Award recipient). His act is so popular, he gets a TV gig in Memphis where he discovers what power the media gives a man. You'll see contemporary analogies today in almost every direction you look - which is why this fifty-year-old film still holds up so well. Of all of them, make sure to save room on your hard-drive for this one. It's good old nasty fun!