Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I know nothing about Pierre Étaix

Tonight's prime time lineup on TCM is dedicated to Pierre Étaix. I had hever heard of him before, although I'll admit that I'm not as knowledgeable about non-Hollywood movies as some other movie buffs, and certainly not as much as the critics are. But TCM is running four of Étaix' shortish features (only one of them runs longer than 90 minutes) and a couple of his shorts, so I figured I'd look him up.

Étaix, who is still alive at the age of 84, started his career as a clown, and got into the movies in the early 1960s. He made several over a period of about a decade before going back to the circus. Somewhere along the way, the movies entered rights hell, at least if Wikipedia is to be believed. That would certainly help explain why I'd never heard of the movies of Étaix. I learned about Jacques Tati, for example, at some point in my adolescence, I think from Siskel and Ebert when they used one of their end-of-show segments to talk about a Tati movie (I'd assume it was M. Hulot's Holiday, but don't remember) was being released to VHS -- this was long before DVDs were ever invented. (Siskel and Ebert were also where I first learned about Leave Her to Heaven, when that got its VHS release, and I remember for years wanting to see it.) But if Étaix' movies were tied up in rights issues, then I can imagine critics not being so well-versed in them.

At any rate, TCM is finally showing these movies, which is nice. Even if they turn out to be no great shakes, they're still worth seeing at least once just so people can come to that conclusion for themselves. And TCM is one of the only cable channels here in the States that would bring these movies to a broader audience. So bravo to them for getting the rights to show these movies!

Actually, there is one thing in the prime time lineup that I've seen: another airing of the short All Eyes on Sharon Tate, which shows up about 1:15 AM.

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