Friday, November 14, 2014

Several movies I should have blogged about in full

I've been mildly under the weather the past few days, and haven't felt quite as much like doing full-length blog posts on movies. That's a bit of a shame, since there are several interesting movies coming up in the next 24 hours that I probably should have said something about.

TCM is honoring birthday boy Dick Powell today with a bunch of his movies, mostly the older musicals. Among these is Hearts Divided at 2:15 PM. It's a fictionalization of the story of Napoleon Bonaparte's brother Jerome (Powell), who met a charming young American woman when he was visiting the country around the time Napoleon was selling the Louisiana territory to Thomas Jefferson. The problem is, Napoleon wants his brother to marry into royalty back in Europe. Marion Davies plays the American, and Claude Rains plays Napoleon.

The first two movies in tonight's Friday Night Spotlight marathon of road movies are definitely worth a mention. At 8:00 PM, you can watch Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries. Victor Sjöström, whose career dated back to the silent days and who even directed silents in Hollywood under an anglicization of his surname, Seastrom (see The Wind), stars as an elderly professor from Stockholm who has been invited by a university in the southern part of the country to receive a prestigious award. That requires a road trip, and it's on that road trip that our professor examines his childhood and how he wound up with the life he did.

That's followed at 10:00 PM by Five Easy Pieces, which reminds me in some ways of another of Bergman's movies, Autumn Sonata. Jack Nicholson plays the son in a family of classical musicians who turned his back on that life, going from job to job as he ekes out a decidedly lower-class existence. And then he hears that his father, living up on an island in Puget Sound, is dying, so it's off to Washington to visit Dad one last time and pay his respects. It's here that we learn why father and son have such a lousy relationship.

We move from talking about Swedes to talking about Norwegians for our final film, Edge of Darkness, tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM. Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan star as townsfolk in a Norwegina town that finds itself occupied by the Nazis when they take over the country. Needless to say, the Norwegians don't like this state of affairs, and some of them decide to resist. The movie was made in 1943 during the height of the war, and it is of course Hollywood's portrayal of a country that would by idyllic if it weren't for those damned Nazis, so the movie can be a bit heavy-handed at times. It's still entertaining enough, however.

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