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Staph Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-07-09 09:22 PM
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TCM Schedule for Thursday, April 9 -- Eli Wallach
It's a baseball kind of day and an Eli Wallach evening, with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966), How The West Was Won (1962), and Lord Jim (1965). Enjoy!

5:30am -- Morris Engel The Indendent (2007)
This documentary explores the life and career of independent filmmaker Morris Engel.
Cast: Morris Engel
Dir: Mary Engel.
BW-28 mins, TV-14

Morris Engel was a combat cameraman with the US Army Signal Corps during World War II, and as such took part in the Normandy landings on D-Day, along with future director Russ Meyer. Much of the familiar combat footage that has appeared over the years in documentaries about the D-Day landings was shot by Engel and Meyer.

6:00am -- They Learned About Women (1930)
Professional baseball players win big with their vaudeville act until love gets in the way.
Cast: Joseph T. Schenck, Gus Van, Bessie Love, Mary Doran
Dir: Sam Wood
C-95 mins, TV-PG

The only starring role for vaudeville stars Van & Schenk.

7:45am -- Alibi Ike (1935)
A brash baseball star gets mixed up with gamblers and a pretty young girl.
Cast: Joe E. Brown, Olivia de Havilland, Ruth Donnelly, Roscoe Karns
Dir: Ray Enright
BW-72 mins, TV-G

Although this was the first film to be released of Olivia de Havilland, it was filmed after A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), the first film she had made.

9:00am -- The Stratton Story (1949)
True story of Monty Stratton, the baseball star who fought to continue his career after losing a leg.
Cast: James Stewart, June Allyson, Frank Morgan, Agnes Moorehead
Dir: Sam Wood
BW-107 mins, TV-G

Won an Oscar for Best Writing, Motion Picture Story -- Douglas Morrow

Although Monty Stratton was a real baseball player who continued to play baseball after having a right-leg, above-knee amputation, much of the story was fictionalized for Hollywood. For instance, in the hunting accident, the real Monty Stratton shot himself with a pistol, rather than with a rifle. Also, the game in which the real Monty Stratton returned to baseball after his amputation was not an All-Star game, as in the movie, but rather was a 1939 charity game between the White Sox and the Cubs (the proceeds of which went to Stratton).

10:48am -- Short Film: One Reel Wonders: Opening Day (1938)
City treasurer Robert Benchley attends the opening of a new baseball stadium to throw out the first pitch, but the crowd must endure Benchley's horrible, drawn-out monologue before they can finally start the game.
Cast: Robert Benchley
Dir: Roy Rowland
BW-9 mins

As a Harvard undergraduate, Benchley gave his first comic performance, impersonating a befuddled after-dinner speaker. The act made him a campus celebrity -- and remained in Benchley's repertoire for the rest of his life. (Landing the position of editor of the Harvard Lampoon was the other highlight of his college career.)

11:00am -- Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949)
A beautiful woman takes over a turn-of-the-century baseball team.
Cast: Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, Gene Kelly, Betty Garrett
Dir: Busby Berkeley
C-93 mins, TV-G

According to Esther Williams in her memoirs, Judy Garland was the original choice for K.C. Higgins but was replaced after she'd become undependable owing to her developing drug habit. June Allyson was also considered but had become pregnant and opted not to work during her pregnancy.

12:45pm -- Three Little Words (1950)
Musical biography of songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby, who surreptitiously helped each other out of jams.
Cast: Fred Astaire, Red Skelton, Vera-Ellen, Arlene Dahl
Dir: Richard Thorpe
C-102 mins, TV-G

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture -- Andr Previn

The real Harry Ruby appears in a bit part as one of the baseball players. He is the one who catches the ball thrown by Red Skelton (as Harry Ruby) and tells "Ruby" to take it easy.

2:30pm -- Kill the Umpire (1950)
To appease his family, a retired baseball player signs up for umpire school.
Cast: William Bendix, Una Merkel, Ray Collins, Gloria Henry
Dir: Lloyd Bacon
BW-78 mins, TV-G

William Bendix was a descendant of composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. This was revealed on TV show "This Is Your Life" (1952); host Ralph Edwards awarded Bendix with a framed document signed by Mendelssohn.

3:49pm -- Short Film: One Reel Wonders: Donkey Baseball (1935)
Pete Smith pays tribute to America's favorite pastime which requires not just speed, knowledge, and agility but donkeys too.
Cast: Pete Smith
Dir: John Waters
BW-8 mins

Donkey baseball was a gimmick used often by Iowa promoter Ray Doan. All players, except for pitcher and catcher, were required to ride donkeys during the course of the game. They fielded the ball while on the donkey, or as far as the reins would allow them. Hitters batted in the normal manner, but once the ball was hit, they had to mount a donkey and navigate their way around the bases.

4:00pm -- Safe at Home! (1962)
A little leaguer attends the Yankees' spring training camp to back up his lies about knowing the players.
Cast: Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, William Frawley, Patricia Barry
Dir: Walter Doniger
BW-84 mins, TV-G

Final film of William Frawley -- Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy and Bub O'Casey in My Three Sons.

5:30pm -- Bang The Drum Slowly (1973)
A baseball player faces terminal illness with the help of his closest teammate.
Cast: Michael Moriarty, Robert De Niro, Vincent Gardenia, Phil Foster
Dir: John D Hancock
C-98 mins, TV-14

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role -- Vincent Gardenia

To prepare for his role, Robert De Niro went to Florida to watch baseball teams in spring training, then traveled to Georgia and tape recorded conversations to study their accents.

7:15pm -- TCM Presents Elvis Mitchell Under the Influence: Bill Murray (2008)
Celebrities reveal the classic movies that influenced their lives in interviews with acclaimed film
critic/interviewer Elvis Mitchell.
Host: Elvis Mitchell
Dir: Robert Trachtenberg
C-29 mins, TV-PG

Bill Murray sits down with critic Elvis Mitchell and dives into various subjects ranging from the Marx Brothers to Hoosiers, which is a film that can make the comedian cry and laugh.


8:00pm -- The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (1966)
Three men seek hidden loot during the Civil War.
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef, Aldo Giuffr
Dir: Sergio Leone
C-163 mins, TV-14

Real name of the film -- Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo -- The Good, The Ugly, The Bad.

The three principal actors are the only ones who speak actual English in the film: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, with the exceptions of Al Mulock (the one-armed man) and John Bartha (the sheriff). Everyone else in the film is really speaking their native language, mostly Italian and Spanish, and was later dubbed into English.

11:00pm -- How the West Was Won (1962)
Three generations of pioneers take part in the forging of the American West.
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda
Dir: John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall.
C-165 mins, TV-G

Won Oscars for Best Film Editing -- Harold F. Kress, Best Sound -- Franklin Milton (M-G-M SSD), and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen -- James R. Webb

Nominated for Oscars for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color -- George W. Davis, William Ferrari, Addison Hehr, Henry Grace, Don Greenwood Jr. and Jack Mills, Best Cinematography, Color -- William H. Daniels, Milton R. Krasner, Charles Lang and Joseph LaShelle, Best Costume Design, Color -- Walter Plunkett, Best Music, Score - Substantially Original -- Alfred Newman and Ken Darby, and Best Picture

Since the three lenses of the Cinerama camera sat at angles to each other on the camera itself, it was very problematic for actors to film a scene as they would in front of a single-lensed camera. When their images were projected onto the three panels of the Cinerama screen, it would appear as though the actors were looking either slightly up-screen or slightly down-screen, and not directly at their fellow actors. This is very evident in a few scenes in the previous Cinerama film, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962). However, by the time this film went into production, this problem was solved somewhat. In order to compensate for the lens angles, actors would have to look one-third of the way in and toward the camera, and pretend that they were looking at their fellow actors. Hence, when their images were projected onto the Cinerama screen, it would appear as though they were looking at each other. It was a very difficult process for actors, which is one of the reasons that three-panel Cinerama was abandoned for narrative films after this film was released.

1:49am -- Short Film: One Reel Wonders: Through The Colorado Rockies (1943)
This Traveltalk entry on Colorado begins in Colorado Springs, then proceeds to Pike's Peak. We experience a train ride over Royal Gorge and the sights along the Gunnison River.
Narrator: Pete Smith
C-10 mins

In Palisade, Colorado, we see men on stilts picking the local peach crop in order to avoid ladder damage to the fragile fruit trees.

2:00am -- Lord Jim (1965)
After turning coward, a naval officer tries to redeem himself by helping Asian natives stage a revolution.
Cast: Peter O'Toole, James Mason, Curt Jurgens, Eli Wallach
Dir: Richard Brooks
C-154 mins, TV-PG

Dith Pran, the NY Times stringer who was the subject of the film The Killing Fields (1984), worked with the crew as a translator.

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Staph Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-07-09 09:28 PM
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1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) is one of those films everybody feels like they've seen even if they haven't. It's inspired numerous other movies, scenes from it have been parodied or re-created in several films and TV shows, and the theme song even went to #2 on the pop music charts. Proof of the film's power, though, is that it's survived all this activity and still seems fresh every time you see it.

Like so many spaghetti Westerns, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a tough-minded tale about changing loyalties and pure human greed. It follows the adventures of three men who are after hidden gold: a mysterious loner (Clint Eastwood), a bandit (Eli Wallach) and a bounty hunter (Lee Van Cleef). Of course it's not quite that simple. Neither of the men trust each other--with good reason--and there's a little matter of the Civil War raging around them. Leone stated, "What do 'good', 'bad' and 'ugly' really mean? We all have some bad in us, some ugliness, some good. And there are people who appear to be ugly, but when we get to know them better, we realise that they are more worthy."

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was the third film director/writer Sergio Leone made with Clint Eastwood, a cinematic trilogy of sorts that established the actor as a major star and put Leone on the international map. In fact, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly originally was intended to have the word "dollars" in the title to capitalize on the previous two films (A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More). They made a great impact in the U.S. because even though made over a space of several years the three films were released here in barely a single year (January to December 1967). Unfortunately, conflicts between Eastwood and Leone came to a head during the dubbing sessions for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and the two never worked together again, though Eastwood has always been quick to point out his debt to Leone.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly had a budget of $1.2 million (more than the previous two films combined) with $250,000 and a percentage of some profits going to Eastwood. (Shortly before filming, Eastwood worked with the great director Vittorio De Sica for a segment of the anthology film The Witches, 1966.) Leone was always a history student and did extensive research into the period, using some of Matthew Brady's famous photographs among other documents in the Library of Congress. Leone claimed with some truth that his films were more accurate than most American-made Westerns (even if they were filmed in Spain). They aren't documentary re-creations, though, since you can find a few anachronisms like dynamite a few years before it was invented.

When shooting started, the film's working title was The Magnificent Rogues which didn't quite fit the three gritty, sometimes ruthless characters; screenwriter Luciano Vincenzoni eventually came up with the famous final title (which is the same in Italian with only the order changed). Though Leone usually followed scripts very closely, Wallach's character was given more and more space as production progressed, something that couldn't have pleased Eastwood. In fact some of this uncertainty lasted into the final editing and dubbing stages when parts of the story were still being reworked by Leone. (Several filmed scenes, including a love scene with Eastwood's character and a local woman, were eliminated entirely.)

The mix of acting styles and Leone's epic visual sense are perfectly complemented by the music of Ennio Morricone. The composer worked on all but one of Leone's films (his first, The Colossus of Rhodes, 1961) and stamped his unique style so thoroughly on the genre that spaghetti Western parodies always try to mimic him. For the final shoot-out of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Leone filmed to Morricone's pre-recorded music, a technique he would take much further in the next film, Once Upon a Time in the West. (Leone reportedly didn't like to be in the screening room with Morricone because the composer would laugh at everything, intentionally funny or not.)

In an interview with Gregory J. M. Catsos for Filmfax Magazine, Eli Wallach recalls the making of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: "It was a dirty, hot location. We filmed in Rome, Italy, and Almera, Spain. That was the most exhausting film I ever did. The studio had no concept of time. You'd go to work when the sun came up, and worked until the sun went down. We worked this way, six days a week, for four months. The living conditions weren't that good, either. They didn't have any trailers or air conditioning and didn't provide for the social amenities. One day, we were shooting out in the hot desert in southern Spain. After one scene, I said to the director, Sergio Leone, "I have to go to the bathroom, Where is it?" Leone pointed to the desert sand and shouted, "There!"

"Leone was very particular about how to make this film. He wanted it to have strong visual moments, and it did, like me about to be hanged, or the closeups on the eyes. He used a lot of close-ups instead of dialogue....When I met Leone, he was wearing a belt and suspenders. I thought, "How unusual that is!" So I told him I wanted my character 'Tuco' to dress that way. Leone's answer was that he wanted me to play this scummy outlaw with "no holster for his gun!" I asked, "Where do I carry the gun, then?" He explained, "You'll have a concealed gun tied to a rope; a lanyard, around your neck." "So," I asked, "the gun dangles between my legs, right?" He said, "Yes. When you want the gun you twist your shoulders and then the gun will be in your hands." I asked him to show me how I could shoot a gun this way. He said "Like this!" He put the lanyard on, twisted his shoulder, and the gun hit him right in the groin! Undaunted, he said, "On second thought, just put the gun in your pocket." (Oddly enough, Wallach wasn't even the first choice for the role: Leone had wanted Charles Bronson who was already committed to The Dirty Dozen but would later appear in Once Upon a Time in the West.)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly confused most critics when it first appeared, getting mostly negative reviews ("dramatically feeble and offensively sadistic" according to Variety). There were even concerns about its length - whether audiences would sit through the whole thing and whether theatres could schedule enough showings in a day to turn a profit. But The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was a popular success and its true value as a modern classic became recognized with such folk as Leonard Maltin rightly proclaiming it the "quintessential spaghetti Western."

Producer: Carlo Bartolini (assistant producer), Alberto Grimaldi (producer), Federico Tofi (assistant producer)
Director: Sergio Leone
Screenplay: Sergio Donati (uncredited), Agenore Incrocci, Sergio Leone (also story), Furio Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni (also story)
Production Design: Carlo Simi
Cinematography: Tonino Delli Colli
Costume Design: Carlo Simi
Film Editing: Eugenio Alabiso, Nino Baragli
Original Music: Ennio Morricone
Principal Cast: Clint Eastwood (The Man With No Name), Lee Van Cleef (Angel Eyes Sentenza), Aldo Giuffr (Northern officer), Eli Wallach (Tuco Benedito Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez), Luigi Pistilli (Padre Ramirez), Rada Rassimov (Maria).
C-163m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Lang Thompson & Jeff Stafford

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