Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The latest example of why I love TCM

TCM is devoting an entire evening of films tonight to Lionel Rogosin. I have to admit that Rogosin is somebody I'd barely heard of before seeing him show up on tonight's schedule, so I don't know much about the moives in tonight's lineup.

Rogosin was an independent documentary filmmaker who decided to tackle social issues, such as poverty, racism, inequality, and the horror of war, things which we're presumably going to see in the movies airing tonight. On the Bowery, which kicks off the night at 8:00 AM and will be repeated at 2:45 AM, deals with the life, such as it is, facing the drunks who populated New York's Bowery district in the mid-1950s, while the second movie, Come Back, Africa (on at 9:15 PM and overnight at 4:00 AM), is about how South Africa's apartheid system as it existed in the late 1950s affected the Blacks of South Africa; by extension, Rogosin was apparently commenting upon the indignities suffered by Black people in the rest of colonial Africa. The movie was released in 1959, which was one year before the big decolonialization of 1960 when a large number of today's African countries were granted their independence from either France or the UK, depending upon which country had held their territory as a colony.

The night ends with what isn't a Rogosin movie: the 30-minute short 24 Hour Alert, just after the repeat showing of Come Back, Africa at around 5:27 AM. This one was made by Jack Webb in his inimitable style that you'd see in the 1960s Dragnet episodes: obvious, with a bang-bang-bang delivery to try to drum the point into the viewers' heads. The point, in this case, is the necessity of having air force bases all over the place, so that the pilots can fly surveillance missions to make certain those evil Commies aren't going to invade our air space. All this is necessary even if the folks living next to the bases whine and moan about a wee bit of noise. At least it's in color, and has some nice file footage of the sort of aircraft that was being used in the mid-1950s. Have a laugh or two at this piece that should be looked at more as a political document.

All of these are the sort of thing that wouldn't show up many other places than TCM.

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