This Week on TCM
February 22, 2008

Some notes about what’s showing this week on Turner Classic Movies.

Bachelor Mother (Sunday, 2/24, 9:00 AM ET, 1939) — In today’s world, where smiling celebrity single mothers are photographed in all stages of pregnancy and motherhood, it’s quite eye-opening to watch this portrait of another era. At the time, we’re told that having a baby out of wedlock was a life-changing event for the worse for both mother and child, but Ginger Rogers, as a shopgirl who’s just lost her seasonal job, seems to make out ok. When she finds a baby on some apartment steps, she tries to turn it in to a foundling agency, but they think she’s the mother, trying to ditch her responsibility.

Mr. Holland's Opus cover
Mr. Holland’s Opus
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David Niven plays the son of the owner of the department store where she worked. Of course, there are numerous misunderstandings before the happy romantic ending, reinforcing the “proper” domestic structure of father, mother, and child. I do wonder, though, how successful Ginger and David’s relationship will be, since they never got to know each other as individuals before relating to each other as parents.

Mr. Holland’s Opus (Sunday, 2/24, 8:00 PM ET, 1995) — I remember finding this a touching portrait of a sacrifices made by a dedicated high school music teacher when I first saw it a decade ago. I wept at the end. I like Richard Dreyfuss a lot, but I hesitate to rewatch this for fear I will now find it maudlin and manipulative. (KC just piped up: “we have a copy of it on disc”. Oh. Well, now I don’t have to decide.)

I do very much like its message that teaching is an art. Viewing those who “settle” for teaching as artistic failures is a short-sighted and, frankly, wrong opinion.

Men in Black cover
Men in Black
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Men in Black (Sunday, 2/24, 10:30 PM ET, 1997) — Now this I’m looking forward to seeing again. This is the epitome of an excellent comic book movie: outrageous premise, eye-grabbing visual execution, light science fiction overlay, ridiculous actions in the pursuit of right (or at least what they think at the time is right), and good-looking men. (OK, X-Men beats them on that last one, with both Hugh Jackman and James Marsden.)

It’s rerun time! Tuesday night, be sure to catch The Talk of the Town and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, two films I’ve previously recommended.

On the Beach cover
On the Beach
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On the Beach (Wednesday, 2/27, 8:00 PM ET, 1959) — A late 50s film starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner about the end of the world after a global nuclear war. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get through it, but it sounds powerful. It shows up this month because it was nominated for two Oscars: editing and music (score). Which indicates how much discretion there is in awards. I’m sure it’s worthy of playing in Oscar month, but I’m never going to watch a movie because it had great editing. That gives the programmers an excuse, though, to select it.

The week ends with an evening of 70s classics: they consist of lots of conspiracies and secret plots by Nazis. Me, I’d rather watch Smokey and the Bandit for good-time down-home stupid entertainment.

7 Responses  
Mark S. writes:  

C’mon, Johanna…Smokey and the Bandit is a classic of comedy! Granted, the following flicks were not even train wreck level fare, but…

Johanna writes:  

Oh, yeah, we were watching it last night while I typed this post, so yeah, I was serious. We’re planning on 2 and 3 over the weekend. Our expectations are lower than zero, so I hope they’re not disappointed.

Mark S. writes:  

Don’t Do It! 2 is insipid where the first was funny, and 3 is 90 minutes of your life that you’ll never, ever get back.

Sadly, I think the dwindling efforts in the sequels really effected the perception of just how much fun the first movie is. What came as easy humor and good chemistry in the first film became forced and almost smarmy as the flicks went along. I mean, Burt realized that ship was sinking and wasn’t even in the 3rd “installment”

I called my wife “Frog” once. She didn’t get it. I cried…

Johanna writes:  

It’s great to have readers looking out for me. I’m sorry your wife made you sad that once. (sniff)

Mark S. writes:  

I kept her. :-)

John writes:  

But Marathon Man and Three Days of the Condor are totally cool!!!

Johanna writes:  

I have never seen either, although I was once seriously involved with a guy whose favorite film was that Condor one. (I think I’m better off now.) Me, my tastes run more towards Condorman.


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