Friday, January 31, 2014

Science movies repeating in February

Tonight on TCM is the final night of January's Friday Night Spotlight on science in the movies. There are several movies coming up that I surprisingly haven't written a full-length post about. However, three of them are also going to be airing on TCM during 31 Days of Oscar, so with any luck I'll be getting around to at least two of them in February.

The first of them is The Story of Louis Pasteur, at midnight tonight, and repeating on Feburary 10 early in the morning. Paul Muni plays the title role, of the French scientist who discovers what's causing mothers to die in childbirth at an alarming rate, before using his revolutionary for the times methods to find treatments for rabies and anthrax.

I mentioned Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1:45 AM, with an overnight repeat in the wee hours of February 11) several times before, with the best synopsis in a post I did back in February 2012:

Edward G. Robinson stars as Ehrlich, the man who comes up with a treatment for syphilis, only for his work to cause controversy that lands him in court in a libel trial. The movie itself would have been controversial back in the day, if only for the use of the word "syphilis", which would shock the people enforcing the Production Code. Yes, people had sex back then, and people got venereal diseases.

Charly finishes tonight at 3:45 AM, and gets a repeat on February 28 at a more civilized time. This one sees Cliff Robertson playing a mentally retarded man who is given a treatment that has the potential to turn him into a genius. Robertson won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance.

Amazingly, the TCM schedule lists only Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet as being available on DVD from the TCM Shop. The Story of Louis Pasteur is apparently available on an import, while Charly is listed at Amazon as being on some out-of-print releases.

Unrelated to the science, TCM is showing the short Song of Revolt following Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet, a little after 3:30 AM. This is a dramatization of the creation of the French national anthem La Marseillaise, made with everything MGM could give it, with the exception of color. Which is probably a shame, since Warner Bros. was spending the late 1930s making Technicolor two-reelers about American history and doing a very interesting job of it. MGM's attempts at history tend to be less interesting than the Traveltalks or Crime Does Not Pay shorts. They made an entire series of in the late "Hitorical Mystyeries" of which Song of Revolt is not one. These are narrated by Carey Wilson, who also gave us the Nostradamus shorts that I mentioned earlier this month; Wilson's narration is one of the things that in my opinion makes these shorts inferior to what Warner Bros. was doing.

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