Thursday, March 12, 2009

I wanna watch Rembrandt sketch

TCM are putting a spotlight on the Korda brothers this month, which means that we get a lot of British movies every Thursday evening in prime time. Tonight kicks off with the 1936 biopic Rembrandt, at 8:00 PM ET.

Charles Laughton stars as the Dutch master, who has his own way of looking at the world. As such, he's constantly at odds with his patrons, and also in constant financial turmoil -- it seems you needed those consarned patrons to pay the bills for you. Meanwhile, Rembrandt has a nagging wife, but a new model, and finds her almost irresistible....

Laughton's perfomance is excellent in a movie that has a few problems. Rembrandt, despite having been made in Britain, fits in very well with the Hollywood studio system. It comes across as being as lavish as a British production could be in the day, but very clearly studio-bound. Compare this to a movie like Girl With a Pearl Earring which has gorgeous location shooting and color cinematography. Also, the plot is one that would have been in place in a Hollywood movie, where faux romantic tension was added to spice up otherwise boring biopics (notably Rhapsody in Blue).

Still, Rembrandt is worth watching, and not just for Laughton's performance. Sure, it's his movie all the way, but Elsa Lanchester also does a good job, as do the rest of the members of the British cast. In short, Rembrandt is a fun and worthwhile way to spend an hour and a half. The movie is currently out of print, but is scheduled for a DVD re-release in May.

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