Monday, November 02, 2009

Shadows of Russia: TCM, Lou Lumenick and the Siren



Today the Siren fulfilled the dearest dream of many a classic-film buff: Thanks to Jack Warner, New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick, and the wonders of email, she helped program a film series at Turner Classic Movies. Here's the TCM press release.

This January (the Siren's birthday month, and what a present it will be), TCM is screening a month-long film series, Shadows of Russia. The selections focusing on the many views of Russia and communism to be found in American movies. Some films are masterpieces that the Siren and her readers know almost by heart (Ninotchka, The Manchurian Candidate, The Scarlet Empress), others the Siren loved on viewing but needs to get re-acquainted with (Reds, The Way We Were), still others are oddities deserving of a more focused look (Rasputin and the Empress, Red Danube, Conspirator, Comrade X). And there are some rare films being shown, including Leo McCarey's film maudit My Son John, with poor doomed Robert Walker in the lead; The North Star, of which I am told TCM has located a good print that should show off James Wong Howe's cinematography; and I Was a Communist for the FBI.

And all this goes back to Mission to Moscow, and therefore, in a roundabout way, to good old Jack Warner.

Here's how it went down. Lou Lumenick, who in addition to his movie-reviewing duties at the Post is a formidable student of film history, posted an alert in February that Mission to Moscow, the bizarre 1943 Warner Brothers paean to Stalin's Russia, was showing on TCM on a Sunday morning. (His original post is gone, but you can read his thoughts on the DVD here.) The Siren watched, posted her thoughts and discussed the movie with Lou via email.

We agreed it was a shame that Mission to Moscow, which TCM seldom shows, hadn't had a prime-time airing where it could get a thorough intro, because if ever a movie needed a detailed intro with background and context, it's Mission to Moscow. That led to a discussion of American movie depictions of Russia and communists over the years. These movies ran a surprisingly large gamut and their bent tended to coincide with U.S. politics and viewpoints more than with Russian history and realities.

Many of these films have languished, unshown and nearly undiscussed. Wouldn't it be great, we e-dreamed, if we could get TCM to show some of them. Better yet, suggested Lou--a whole month of them. Lou decided to contact the TCM programmers. The rest of the story can be found at his place.

And yes, that's my real name there on the release and at Lou's place, Farran Nehme. Pleased to meet you. I figured it was as good a time as any to come out. If my name is going to be mentioned at the TCM sites I want it to be my real moniker and not some mistress of Alexander the Great's.

So here is the list of films and times for January. The Siren hasn't seen all of these herself, as some have been scarce indeed. The schedule is the result of months of lists and suggestions going back and forth between Lou and me, and the skill of the expert programmers at TCM. The Siren has a widely varying group of readers and she thinks there is something for almost everyone here, whether you are left or right, auteurist or anti-auteurist, Warner Brothers or MGM. She hopes you will all be around in January to discuss the films with her.



Wednesday, Jan. 6

Part One: Twilight of the Tsars

8 p.m. The Scarlet Empress (1934) – starring Marlene Dietrich and John Lodge.
10 p.m. Rasputin and the Empress (1932) – starring John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore.

Part Two: Red Romance
12:15 a.m. Red Danube (1949) – starring Walter Pidgeon and Ethel Barrymore.
2:30 a.m. Reds (1981) – starring Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Maureen Stapleton.



Wednesday, Jan. 13

Part Three: The Lighter Side of the Revolution

8 p.m. Comrade X (1940) – starring Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr.
10 p.m. Ninotchka (1939) – starring Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas.

Part Four: The Left on Campus
Midnight The Way We Were (1973) – starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford.
2:15 a.m. Spring Madness (1938) – starring Maureen O’Sullivan, Lew Ayres, Ruth Hussey and Burgess Meredith.

Overnight Feature
3:30 a.m. The Strawberry Statement (1970) – starring Bruce Davison, Kim Darby and Bob Balaban.



Wednesday, Jan. 20

Part Five: Our Red Army Pals
8 p.m. The North Star (1943) – starring Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews and Walter Huston.
10 p.m. Mission to Moscow (1943) –starring Walter Huston, Ann Harding and Oscar Homolka.

Part Six: Diplomatic Immunity
12:15 a.m. The Kremlin Letter (1970) – starring Bibi Andersson, Richard Boone, Max von Sydow and Orson Welles.
2:15 a.m. Conspirator (1949) – starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor.

Overnight Feature
4 a.m. Counter-Attack (1945) – starring Paul Muni and Marguerite Chapman.



Wednesday, Jan. 27
Part Seven: Spies Among Us
8 p.m. My Son John (1952) – starring Helen Hayes, Robert Walker and Dean Jagger. John McElwee's excellent rundown on this seldom-shown film can be found here.
10:15 p.m. I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951) – starring Frank Lovejoy and Dorothy Hart.

Part Eight: The Height of the Cold War
Midnight The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury.
2:15 a.m. The Bedford Incident (1965) – starring Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier.

Overnight Features
4:15 a.m. Scarlet Dawn (1932) – starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Nancy Carroll.
5:15 a.m. The Doughgirls (1944) – starring Jane Wyman, Ann Sheridan, Alexis Smith and Eve Arden.

93 comments:

Peter Nellhaus said...

I'm outraged! How dare the powers that be omit The Iron Petticoat starring Bob Hope and Katherine Hepburn!

That said, congratulations on your brief takeover of TCM.

The Siren said...

Spasibo, Tovarich. We shall attempt to rule with compassion.

(Speaking of which, we wanted Tovarich too -- but of course the final sked depended a great deal on TCM's own requirements, availability etc.)

Vanwall said...

Wow! Congrats, Siren! That's quite a coup, you and M. Lumenick getting TCM to show all these, many getting little if any airplay on a regular basis. Oh, and BTW, pleased ta meetcha, Ma'm. I wish "Days of Glory" had been on the list, it'd be nice to shoehorn that in if you can. Wink, nudge. Now, if you can get 'em to do a month-long series of actual Russian films......

Greg said...

Skol! This is awesome, wonderful, fantastic and utterly spectacular! Great programming and very nice to meet you! I know you'll still go by the Siren but it's great to know you for real if you know what I mean. The day I threw Jonathan Lapper under the car was a great day (hey I was going to get laid off from work anyway so there was no more reason to hide).

Of course, you'll still always be Joan Fontaine to me.

Greg said...

Can't believe I just wrote "still always." Sorry.

X. Trapnel said...

Molodtsa, Sirenova!

I've been cudgeling my brains for significant omissions apart from Tovarich (and a bolshoye spasibo for omitting the uzhas that goes by the name Doctor Zhivago), but none comes readily to mind. It's amazing that Russia in these films, whether "left" or "right," is no more than a phantom or (pun slightly intended) projection. The glorious exception is, of course, Ninotchka (if only they could pronounce it correctly; it makes me wince almost as much as Jimmy Stewart's's reference to "DostoYOVsky" Maybe that's how they say it in Budapest.)

The Siren said...

Greg, the trouble is that it will be hard to jettison Campaspe altogether. To this day I still occasionally refer to John Nolte as "Dirty Harry" and I think I called you Jonathan the last time I posted at your place. As Edward Everett Horton says in Top Hat, "another one of these plural personalities."

cinetrix said...

Magnificent! I am sorry that the 'Fesser's father [a Russian historian] is no longer with us to enjoy your coup, but I will be sure to alert his friends and colleagues. Congratulations, dear Siren.

Dan Leo said...

This is so cool, Campaspe, or Siren, or whatever-the-hell-your-name-is!

All your fans are proud of you, girlfriend.

Maya said...

Fabulous. I was actually just looking over the press release this morning and admiring the Hollywood angle towards Russia. Can I interview you on this?

Tucker said...

How fun!

jim emerson said...

Fantastic! Any series that begins with "The Scarlet Empress" is already a knockout. Nostrovja!

panavia999 said...

Congratulations! I'm looking forward to "Mission to Moscow". I missed it during the Ann Harding TCM filmfest and was hoping to see it again. From the brief description, I had read, I assumed it was a blatant propaganda film like that total clunker "Days of Glory". Now, I love those old propaganda films when it's well done or really unique. Mission to Moscow sounds like the latter category.
I hope TCM will show some more non Eisenstein Soviet era films - there are some really interesting stories and fairy tales.

Tony Dayoub said...

Yippee! I can finally address you by that wonderful name I had the privilege of knowing for a (very short) while. Although I might be schizo when it comes to attaching a moniker to you for just a little bit.

And what a glorious occasion for you to come out for. I'd also like to request an interview for my site, please. This sounds tres interesant.

Fred said...

Congratulations! I wonder if the folks at folks over I Blame Patriarchy would care, though. =)

Bob Westal said...

I don't know any Russian, but a hearty congratulations in all languages.

Now, if I'd had to gig, I would have tried to work in at least one musical -- but since "Silk Stockings" is not so hot and it's the only commie-oriented movie musical I can think of offhand, I'd have probably happily settled for the great documentary about Eastern bloc musicals, "East Side Story." (I'm assuming "Volga, Volga" isn't available.)

Anyhow, how great -- and strange -- to finally know your name.

Arthur S. said...

Cheers...

As Father Zosima would say, may you always be as responsible for all of us and for each of us for the rest of your days and for all time.

Entropy's Bitch said...

My calendar is marked. Now, I have to clear the DVR.
I of course, think of you as a "Little Bird", so add another into the personality mix.
Congratulations. This will be edumacational, and a treat indeed.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I dunno. Now that I know the Siren's real identity, it's like all the magic is gone.

I am looking forward to seeing My Son John and I Was a Communist for the FBI (Frank Lovejoy rocks!), though. Oh, and The Bedford Incident, with Widmark at his prime rat bastard-ness.

Karen said...

Holy camoly, what amazing news! I can only imagine what a heady experience it must be to program an entire series (SO much cooler than "programmer for a day"), but I certainly can't think of anyone I'd rather see do it.

Alas, alas, alas, I will be out of the country from January 5th through 21st, so will miss almost all the goodness--and, tragically, the film that is the effective cause of the entire enterprise, and which is on too late in the series for me to pre-program on the DVR. This is killing me!

Oh! Wait! I CAN do this! I can program it to record the keywords "Mission" and "Moscow." GENIUS!

That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

Well, I would have never guessed that name.

That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

So, what does the Campaspe mean? If you're coming out, you might as well go all the way!

And I am thrilled for you!

Dan Callahan said...

This is really great news! I've been dying to see "My Son John" for the longest time. Just re-watched "Once Upon a Honeymoon" and saw "Good Sam" for the first time, and I think it's safe to say that McCarey post-car-accident completely lost his mind.

The rest of the schedule looks great, too, though I'd also like to see "Tovarich" again. I recently saw a five minute clip on YouTube of a crazy-sounding, independently produced Barbara Stanwyck film from 1935 called "Red Salute" that made me fall out of my chair. Robert Young tells campus radical Stanwyck that she just can't be a Commie because he's seen her on the dance floor, and "Commies can't dance!" Lord knows who owns it, though...it might even be public domain.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Great stuff,Siren! The only thing that's missing is The Woman on Pier 13 aka. I Married a Communist.

The DVD of The Way We Were has all the outtakes that clarified exactly Why Katie left Hubble. Politics allegedly didn't "preview well" so they cut it -- making the last quarter of the film well-nigh incomprehensible. It still works. One of the all-time great "unhappy endings." (It left the trio of teenage girls sitting behind me at a matinee when the film ran first run in New York sobbing wrecks. They had thought the film rahter funny up until then -- "old people" in weird clothes. But then -- Devestating.)

And as believe I've pointed out before Babs is Arthur Laurents to Redford's Farley Granger.

Ben Alpers said...

Congrats, Siren! What a terrific opportunity and a great series.

Back in the early 1990s, when I was working on my dissertation, I hoped to see many of these films and they proved incredibly difficult to track down. Eventually I caught a bunch of them (including Mission and My Son John among many others) at a wonderful series on Hollywood and the Cold War at the Brooklyn Museum.

I never did get to see Song of Russia, which is the one film that I haven't seen that I wish was in your series (and I agree, incidentally, that Days of Glory, which I have seen, would have been a nice addition. I can't think of a more concentrated collection of Hollywood clichés about Russia and the Soviet Union....all in a film that isn't half bad).

Still this looks really excellent! My DVR and I will look forward to January!

Anagramsci said...

very cool--looking forward to seeing (or revisiting) all of these

TCM ought to consider letting you do this every month!

Dave

Marilyn said...

This is the greatest thing ever! Congratulations. And as for "I Blame the Patriarchy," Fred, I've given the what for a couple of times about movies. As a feminist and a film buff, I couldn't be happier with old movies and that one of "the girls" got a chance to make a month like this happen.

Raquelle said...

Congratulations!!! This is very exciting news.

Kate Gabrielle said...

Congratulations! :D ***confetti is being tossed virtually***

panavia999 said...

heh heh I have to admit, I rent the "Manchurian Candidate" on every presidential election - whether my candidate wins or not. It helps keep my skepticism sharp.

Brian said...

Wow- so cool! Makes me want to camp out at a house with cable for a month! I've been wanting to see some of these (My Son John most desperately) for years!

Sebina C. said...

Great news indeed - congrats on getting this through :D

Yojimboen said...

You may have gathered by now chère Madame Sirène, that we, your constituents, are all intensely proud of you, and are preening and basking in your reflected glory. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer Campaspe.

For grins, and to whet the appetite, a foretaste of the remarkable Mission to Moscow:

Clip

Trailer (scroll down)

Phil Nugent said...

I've always been curious to see "The Strawberry Statement." Never been able to find it anywhere.

Flickhead said...

Gee whiz... now that I can call you Farran in public, it feels rather... anticlimactic.

Congratulations on the TCM gig.

If I'd been asked, my first two programming choices would've been The Woman on Pier 13 and Shack Out on 101... but that's just me.

Flickhead said...

"Silk Stockings is not so hot..."

FEH!

Them's fightin' words, Bob.

Trish said...

Wonderful news, Siren - congratulations!

What next? Co-hosting with Robert Osborne? You KNOW you're so much better at this than Alex Baldwin... :D

Trish said...

I mean ALEC Baldwin of course...

Robert said...

Siren:

This is wonderful and your choices are inspired. I am not familiar with most of the films you are programming and look forward to a, um, Red education.

It should also be noted what we have known in Hollywood for quite a few years. Traditional film and television reviewers have little to no power with the public, whereas the lively and well-informed film blogosphere is rapidly gaining influence over narrow, but significant areas of movie and TV viewership.

D Cairns said...

Magnificent! Look forward to getting somebody to record all these goodies and mail them to me (TCM in the UK consisting of about eight indifferent movies on a loop). And hope this will be the first of many exciting engagements.

Brian Doan said...

Hi, Farran! Congratulations on this fabulous and well-deserved opportunity, and thanks for programming such a brilliant line-up; there are a lot of films there I've always meant to see. Can't wait!

Eric Stanton said...

Dear Siren,

I've enjoyed your blog for a long time, but have never commented. This special day seemed like a good time to drop in and say, first, thank you for all the pleasure you've given your readers. I have some idea of the work required to keep a blog running, and your efforts here are appreciated by more lovers of golden era film than you know.

Second - congratulations on the TCM gig! The program looks great and I am looking forward to it most eagerly.

And I will second the suggestions above - what this program now requires is that the Siren and Mr. Lumenick join Robert Osbourne for a series of introductory talks. Surely somebody at TCM reads this blog and recognizes what a good idea that would be? Right? Right?

M.A.Peel said...

More congrats! I'm performing the Rachmaninoff Vespers shortly, and I must admit having a very difficult time singing in Russian. The language declines nouns in 6 cases--just how smart are these people?

Gareth said...

I see my January will be most educational, and that's before I even start working on my dissertation; I knew I should have been a "Europeanist." Congratulations!

X. Trapnel said...

M.A. Peel,

Go to:

youtube.com/watch?v=QB6-gT-dt18

for a lesson. Well, not quite, but maybe inspiration. I've been watching it over and over with tears in my eyes. Wherever Rachmaninoff is, Russia is.

X. Trapnel said...

Or go to youtube and search Rachmaninoff video and voice

The Siren said...

Thanks so much everybody--this is definitely a warm fuzzy moment for me, especially with so many people de-lurking to add comments. Don't be strangers, folks. Come back and chat some mroe.

As for the final list, we sent TCM a much longer roster knowing the experts there would trim it a lot and add/delete according to all kinds of factors, including rights, print availability, when they last ran the movie, balancing the rest of the schedule etc. In addition to Tovarich, we also listed The Woman on Pier 13, Days of Glory, The Whip Hand, Song of Russia, Red Salute and Pickup on South Street, among others. But I am extremely happy with the list as it turned out and I know Lou is too.

Incredibly, we did not list Shack Out on 101. You're trying to show me up, yes Flickhead? Now I have to watch out for that one.

XT, I had argued against including Doctor Zhivago despite my love for it because it's a fundamentally British film and the aim was to look at Russia and the Cold War through American eyes. In the end it didn't matter as it didn't come up, and given how often it is shown I don't think it will be missed.

D., the idea of Streisand/Redford as Laurents/Granger will definitely give re-viewing that one an added pleasure.

Flickhead said...

Siren, when getting around to Shack Out on 101, perhaps you should pair it with the pinko noir, Give Us This Day.

X. Trapnel said...

Siren, what would really put the selection into perspective would be to show the Soviet equivalents. I'm thinking especially of The Russian Question, a 1947 film directed by Mikhail Romm about an American journalist who goes to the USSR, finds it a paradise, and tries to get the truth through to American readers only to be destroyed by capitalist power. From what i've read much of the film takes place in the U.S. which of course is depicted as hell on earth. I'm going to check my Russian sources to see if it's available.

hamletta said...

I'm not complainin' 'bout nothin'.

I'm thrilled to see The Kremlin Letter on the list, because I share your tragic, futile love for George Sanders.

hamletta said...

Oops! I thought I'd posted a congratulations, but I didn't, so congratulations!

One of my favorite daydr—er, thought exercises is: What would I choose as a TCM Guest Programmer?

You might oughta pinch yourself, just in case!

MrsHenryWindleVale said...

Superb news, Siren. Brava!

The film which, jokily, I would like to see added to that list is "The Girl in the Kremlin" -- I mean, Zsa Zsa Gabor plus Lex Barker plus a mysteriously surviving Josef Stalin? Not to mention DeWitt Bodeen as one of the writers? How could you go wrong?

But the one I'd *actually* like to see is "Red Planet Mars." I saw it as a child, and I'd be curious to learn if the actual item is as bizarre as my memories of it.

The Derelict said...

*swoon!*

Seriously, this is amazing. I. Cannot. Wait.

Congrats, Siren. I have nothing more to add because I'm left speechless by how freaking awesome this is.

Spasibo, spasibo, a thousand times spasibo!

(Also, while not really about Russia exactly, "Tender Comrade" is going to be on TCM later this month and it's got that whole Dalton Trumbo/Communism/Red Scare thing going for it... I'm excited because I've never seen it, only heard of its "infamous" reputation)

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Congratulations, Comrade. Thanks for this series. When are we going to see you in the chair across from Robert Osborne?

Karen said...

Allow me to add my voice to the crowds calling for you to take the big chair across from Mr Osborne. That would be EPIC. Or, actually, even BETTER: can you please, please replace the faux hipper-than-thou Ben Mankiewicz? I always have to mute the TV when he comes on to intro a film.

Don't beat yourself up over leaving out Shack Out on 101: TCM just ran it last month, which is when I saw it. What a fascinating little film! Lee Marvin is amazing in it!

EditorLisa said...

Farran,

I am so in awe, and rather envious, right now. What an amazing opportunity! I watch TCM frequently and make up theme nights in my mind.

I just discovered your delightful blog through the link on the New York Post. I'll be back for more reading, though. :)

Your former co-worker and fellow film lover,

Lisa Reynolds

The Siren said...

I am very touched that so many people are asking to see me on TV, when for all most of you know, I might well sound like Victoria Jackson and look like Marie Dressler on a bad hair day. But then any resemblance to the great Marie isn't a bad thing. So, here comes a new banner.

Lisa, thanks so much for de-lurking! A little Warner bird told me you might appear. :)

Ian said...

Congratulations Siren. I look forward to some of these films (especially the 30s ones).

Trish said...

Miss Dressler is a fellow countrywoman from Cobourg, Ontario. The town holds a film festival in her honour every year.

Vanwall said...

As I posted sometime here before, we all should, like the son of Olympias, be satisfied with the limning and not the lass.

M.A.Peel said...

[X. Trapnel, thanks so much for the link. I never thought to connect with him on youtube. Viva all things Russian!]

X. Trapnel said...

Pravdivo, M.A.P. The instrumental case is a misery, but keep plugging away and good luck with the performance; I love the Vespers, the greatest sacred work of the twentieth century.

DavidEhrenstein said...

What about Jet Pilot ?

Lou Lumenick said...

David, the Siren (who in the flesh looks more like a cross between Andrea Leeds and Ann Dvorak than Ms. Dressler) and I had a lively exchange about the merits of Jet Pilot. I believe it was on the final list we sent to TCM, along with Once in a Blue Moon and Soak the Rich. I'm hoping the latter two will turn up on a TCM evening with Hecht and MacArthur's better (and better-known) directorial works.

Yojimboen said...

It was exactly 52 years ago yesterday Jet Pilot was released in the UK – I think I saw it on the second day (I was a mewling babe, I assure you) so that would make today an odd anniversary. Of course I knew nothing of who von Sternberg was or that the movie had been kept on Howard Hughes’ shelf for almost a decade before being released – I only remember one thing (or rather two things) about the film. It was the first time I’d ever seen one of those extraordinary torpedo bras (no doubt another of Mr. Hughes’ inventions).

Janet Leigh’s generously sharpened bosoms – not to mention her chest full of medals – brought about in me a childish wonder how it was possible for her to embrace John Wayne without stabbing him in the chest.

But she was a remarkably lovely girl.

X. Trapnel said...

Somebody has surely written about the influence of the Cold War on women's fashions; there were times when Doris Day seemed to be dressed as a missile silo or an F-111.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Wonderful news. Thank you for not programming that Tallulah-as-Catherine movie they showed a while back. It was painful.

I like "Silk Stockings," but my real Russian guilty pleasure is "Nicholas and Alexandra." I think it's on this week. I'll watch it just for Olivier's little speech about the impending catastrophe of World War I.

You will let us know when Mr. Osborne invites you to join him, won't you? Use any name you like.

VP81955 said...

Congratulations, Siren. Hope part of your compensation are free passes to the TCM Classic Film Festival to be held in Hollywood next April (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/252971.html).

"Silk Stockings is not so hot..."

If Cyd Charisse's dance to the piece named after the film doesn't thrill you (regardless of gender), please go see a doctor for your own good. "Ninotchka" it's not, but it does have its charms.

my real Russian guilty pleasure is "Nicholas and Alexandra." I think it's on this week.

Isn't that the film that has future Bond girl Fiona Fullerton, not long before she grew (and shrank!) into "Alice's Adventures In Wonderland"?

Yojimboen said...

Lou Lumenick says:

“…the Siren [...] looks more like a cross between Andrea Leeds and Ann Dvorak…”

Va-va-voom, says I.

Arthur S. said...

Yes...what about Jet Pilot? Luc Moullet called it the pinnacle of "right wing eroticism"

DavidEhrenstein said...

Silk Stockings is no Love Me Tonight.

But then, what is?

MovieMan0283 said...

Of course congratulations are in order - for programming THE premier classic-movie venue as well as for coming out from behind your pseudonym (join the club - and remember, Clark Kent and Superman need not cancel one another out). But upon taking a closer look at that schedule, thanks is in order as well - this is going to be a fantastic series, especially for someone like me who loves history (popular history, no less) almost as much as movies.

It's also troublesome, as I've spent months accumulating a manageable backlog on my DVR. Now it looks like I'll have to cut it down to size in anticipation of the Siren's Soviet Winter (hosted by Robert Osbourne with an Uncle Joe moustache, I hope).

Now if we could just get you in touch with someone from Fox Movie Channel...

Yojimboen said...

Manohla redeems herself.
(Or at least tries to.)

If even only one reader here hasn’t seen
the film and chooses to remedy that lack in the next two weeks, then this off-topic post hasn’t been wasted.

(It’s times like these we in the provinces really envy New Yorkers.)

Donna said...

Congratulations Comrade Siren!

A great piece of programming, I will look forward to this with delight (and blinis).

I lament Tovarich not being available, it's been far too long since I've enjoyed that delightful film.

gmoke said...

Years ago I saw a Japanese war movie from the late 1930s, "Five Comrades" I think. I was astonished to see that it was the same kind of war propaganda that Hollywood churned out a few years later. Would be interesting to have a series that looked at war films from every side of a particular conflict.

Just watched "Charlie Wilson's War" on a library DVD and had an idle thought about the image of Afghanistan in the movies: Rambo III, The Man Who Would Be King....

Congratulations on your little screen debut. You deserve it.

Karen said...

Yojimboen, the Film Forum post isn't so VERY off-topic for this thread--the shoes ARE red.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Saw Nicholas and Alexandra on TCM last night. What an odd subject for an epic. Pageantry leading to the main characters (about whom despite valiant efforts on everyone's parts we couldn't care less) are summarily executed.

One bright spot: The beautiful Richard Warwick (who I mourn as if he were an actual old boyfriend of mine) pops up to kill Dr. Who (Tom Baker as Rasputin) laughing uproariously the whole time.

Yojimboen said...

Two points for Karen. Yojimboen smites forehead with open palm.
Duh, why didn’t you think of that?

No doubt I was distracted as ever by the image of Miss Shearer’s flaming red hair. (We Scots were and are VERY proud of Moira Shearer.)

X. Trapnel said...

Hey Y, what do you think Boris Lermontov was, a Scotsman? (Actually, yes. P&P most certainly filched the name from the great poet Mikhail Lermontov, descended from a Scottish emigre name of Learmont)

Yojimboen said...

(Thanks for the set-up, X.)
Our blessing and our curse is that we Scots invented pretty-much everything - yes, everything (from the steam engine on – scroll down for the A-Z list); then were kind enough (or stupid enough, some say) to let America reap the big-buck profits therefrom.

X. Trapnel said...

Lime cordial?

To drag things back to MY favorite subject (well, one of them), the Scots also invented Russian symbolist poetry in the person of Konstantin Balmont, also of Scottish descent, the Russian Swinburne.

DavidEhrenstein said...

And most important of all -- Tilda Swinton.

X. Trapnel said...

Debroah Kerr, say I (aye!)

Ehsan Khoshbakht said...

Comrade! A French TV channel (France3) had a similar program (Le cinéma de minuit), years ago, including “Mission to Moscow”, but the difference was in choosing some documentaries, mostly anti-red, to accompany the features.

The Siren said...

Welcome, Ehsan. It's a pleasure to have someone adding to the international flavor here. The Siren's husband is from Paris and has good memories of the many old American movies on French television. They were frequently introduced by a guy nicknamed "la voix." He was never on camera, but would introduce movies in his high-pitched nasal voice. Mr C said if you could get past the guy's voice, he said very interesting things about the movie. (And he can't remember the guy's name or the channel - anyone know?)

Anyway it doesn't surprise me that the French beat us to this--their taste in American cinema is often superb and extends to some movies we neglect. Lou and I wanted to stay with narrative films but it's always possible TCM will throw in some documentary shorts.

DavidEhrenstein said...

BTw, among the shorts see if you can find Spreadin' the Jam
(1945) It's Charles Walter's very first film -- a mini-musical in alexandrines -- and a clear influence on Jacques Rivette's musical Haut/Bas/Fragile.

TCM used to show it from time to time in the past. But I haven't seen it lately.

Ehsan Khoshbakht said...

Siren; maybe that French movie presenter's name is Frédéric Mitterrand. Almost all French state TVs use his voice for movie introductions (usually a voice over the stills from the film). Even one can hear his voice in a scene from "Amélie Poulain."

DavidEhrenstein said...

Speaking of Sirens, It's Parker Posey's Birthday! (A National Holiday, IMO)

Yojimboen said...

Mo’s been reading Manohla.

Rusha said...

F -- I just saw this! Great news!! Congrats, congrats.

And I like that you've outed your real self...

I saw Ninotchka about a year ago - was on a Greta Garbo kick there for a while - she is endlessly fascinating to watch.

XO

cgeye said...

The Scarlet Empress? Oh, thank you. I depend on that film for spiritual nourishment.

{places a reverent kiss on Miss C's lounging slippers)

And, congratulations.

Hazel said...

Many congratulations on a great honour.

Now I wish even more that the UK TCM had a tenth of the programming imagination that the original has.

blog said...

I never did get to see Song of Russia, which is the one film that I haven't seen that I wish was in your series and I agree, incidentally, that Days of Glory, which I have seen, would have been a nice addition. I can't think of a more concentrated collection of Hollywood cliches about Russia
Chiropractor in Boulder