Monday, September 29, 2008

Walter Mirisch

Robert Osborne sat down with producer Walter Mirisch for a Private Screenings episode that will be airing tonight at 8:00 PM, with a repeat at 11:00 PM. I really enjoy the Private Screenings series, and am looking forward to another one with somebody who wasn't an actor. Norman Jewison was interviewed last summer, and it was quite the treat.

TCM are also showing three Best Picture Oscar winners produced by the Mirisch brothers as part of the night of movies, and each of them is highly worth watching:

In the Heat of the Night at 9:00 PM, which won the Best Picture in 1967. Sidney Poitier is excellent at Virgil Tibbs, the Philadelphia homicide detective who gets roped into helping a racist white cop solve a murder case that occurs when he's passing through Sparta, Mississippi. As good as Poitier is, though, Rod Steiger is even better as Police Chief Gillespie.

West Side Story at midnight, the Best Picture winner for 1961. Sure, the story is nothing more than a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but that's a timeless story, and there's a reason why it's still famous four hundred years on. At any rate, West Side Story is a movie that should be watched for the dancing, if not the acting. (It's much like The Young Girls of Rochefort in that regard.)

The Apartment, at 2:45 AM, 1960's Best Picture. Jack Lemmon is fine as the man who wants to climb the corporate ladder, and is willing to lend out his apartment to do so, until he finds that it hurts elevator girl Shirley MacLaine. However, the most fun to watch is Fred MacMurray, who plays Lemmon's evil boss, and is the most evil he'd been since Double Indemnity. It's sad that MacMurray was soon to go on to TV and My Three Sons. Being in sitcoms gave him a reputation that MacMurray didn't want to harm, and so he spent the rest of his career sticking to light comedy, and movies that were "easy" to do during the times the TV show was on break between seasons.

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