Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Movies on TV

It may be stating the bleedin' obvious but there really is no point now in seeing any large-scale movie being broadcast on television, at least not here in the UK. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO was on yesterday afternoon and its one I have never seen from start to finish (despite my decades long fascination with Julie Christie) so I tuned in and of course it was pan-and-scan. so I put on the dvd and saw it in the proper ratio, a better print and 35 minutes shorter than the tv screening with all those commercial breaks! Anyone watching for the first time seeing it cropped and broken up with advertisements just is not seeing what David Lean intended. Same the other week for QUENTIN DURWARD which also has marvellous widescreen vistas. I had not seen BARABBAS - an 'epic' from the early 60s I unaccountably missed - but liked the images and music from the panned and scanned tv version recently so I ordered the dvd so enjoyed it even more in the widescreen version.

TCM here in the UK though showed Anthony Mann's terrific widescreen western MAN OF THE WEST properly yesterday - so why can't they do it more often. Do they now think people won't watch widescreen movies on tv? TCM here also used to run the 1954 A STAR IS BORN in an unwatchable scanned form, and of course it is one of the great Cinemascope pictures...

At least TCM here have got a new raft of pictures to show endlessly over the coming months: looks like they got a batch of United Artists/Mirish titles, like a lot of Billy Wilders [hence THE APARTMENT and others] and Woody Allens, so I have recorded some choice ones I had not seen like SEPTEMBER, ALICE and ANOTHER WOMAN. They are now showing THE BIG COUNTRY quite regularly - just liked they used to do with BEN HUR, GONE WITH THE WIND, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, CASABLANCA, as here TCM mainly shows the MGM back catalogue with some main Warner titles - which gives a lopsided view of movie history. What we need is a channel showing Fox, Paramount, Columbia and British titles - but now in this age of reality tv, the main channels do not bother with old movies much any more .... TCM UK did though show a batch of unseen-for-decades Warner '50s programmers over the autumn here, like THE SILVER CHALICE, The STORY OF MANKIND, SERENADE, THE SINS OF RACHEL CADE, DRUM BEAT (a fond childhood memory of my father taking me to this, and not seen since) as well as AUNTIE MAME and GYPSY and that panned and scanned STAR IS BORN which they then of course proceeded to show and re-show endlessly!

One can only look at the schedule for TCM in the USA and feel envious of the great programming and titles they show. At least I got some choice items recorded from it by a friend in New York!

Great extras on the ZHIVAGO dvd by the way - including ten minutes of Julie Christie in close-up expertly handling press interviews in 1965 when she was (as she still is) mesmerisingly beautiful.

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