Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Briefs for August 13, 2014

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago regarding the short Capriccio Italien that I didn't quite understand the point of classical orchestra shorts by the 1950s. A similar type of short whose popularity I also don't understand -- and there were a lot more of these -- are the big band shorts. A lot of these showed up in the 1930s and 1940s, and two more of them are showing up on TCM today: one with bandleader Henry Busse a little after 11:00 AM, or just after His Girl Friday which starts at 9:30; the other being called Yacht Party and set on a set designed to look like a yacht, a little aftre 9:15 PM, following Hot Saturday. In the pre-TV days I can kind of understand showing classical music, since it had ben more the province of the wealthy. All those gazebos and bandstands you see in the park in old movies are because band music with loud brasses that carried were the music for the middle and lower classes. So the studios were bringing culture to the masses, I'd think, by making classical music shorts. And classical music is about the dead guy who wrote the music, not the performers. This is a contrast with the big band stuff, which is about the bandleader and the singer if there is one. And heaven knows the studios brought us enough obscure bandleaders like Jan Savitt. And with the bands that showed up in musical numbers in lots of Hollywood movies of the day, I can't help but wonder how popular those big band shorts would have been. Of course, they were probably sheaper to produce; there's a lot less blocking necessary.

Tuesday, September 16 would have been Lauren Bacall's 90th birthday. TCM already had a morning and afternoon of movies scheduled for that day, although not prime time because Tuesdays in September are devoted to a showcase of cinematic looks at Judaism. The Israeli movies that night are something I can't imagine TCM wanting to preempt. So even though Bacall would merit a 24-hour programming salute, she might not get one. The night before, though, is a night of Bob's picks, so preempting those and having an 8:00 PM to 8:00 PM salute wouldn't be bad.

Tomorrow's star for Summer Under the Stars is Charlie Chaplin. His day is kicking off with what is generally considered the first feature-length comedy, Tillie's Punctured Romance, at 6:00 AM. It also stars Marie Dressler a decade and a half before talking pictures made Dressler a big star. Having been made in 1914, it's in the public domain and the quality of the surviving prints isn't the greatest. But it is available on Youtube. I didn't watch any of the Youtube prints, so I can't vouch for the quality of them.

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