Summers are wonderful times to enjoy pictures – some of which I enjoyed during the TCM SUMMER OF DARKNESS festival on Film Noir. The rain felt warm, the dark was comforting, and dialogue was so sharp you could shave with it. There is morning even in a noir picture -however desolate.
I recently took a spin through the Michael Curtiz 1958 directed picture THE PROUD REBEL with Alan Ladd and Olivia de Havilland, who were ably supported by Dean Jagger, Cecil Kellaway, Henry Hull and a young Harry Dean Stanton among others. I missed seeing it at the 2015 TCM festival. If you wait, the film you want to see will come around to the network. It has been called an unremarkable film, also “Saturday afternoon light fare,” which really doesn’t bother me. The formula driven story of a former Confederate soldier (Alan Ladd), who is searching for a doctor to cure his son David (David Ladd), who in the course of this meets a woman farmer Linnett Moore (de Havilland). She takes them in as a result of brushes with the law and aggressive neighbors. What struck me after the end credits had rolled by was the simplicity of the story. The warm feeling that it evoked came through its use of that tried and true ‘boy and his dog’ motif.
One does not need gritty drama, creatures rising from the dead, or gangsters shooting it out for a roll of money to enjoy classic film. A steady diet of the same style is like eating the same meal every day, and can leave you desensitized; inattentive to nuances of your favorite style of picture as it all blends into one. Variety is a brilliant way to appreciate what you enjoy even more.
I am not employed by TCM so I get nothing in boosting their network. TCM On air host Robert Osbourne articulated some reasons why people watch classic film at a press conference I attended that never occurred to me. Amazingly these experiences were part of me which I did not take into account. It was mentioned that the TCM network could be classed as a caregiver of sorts. Countless letters are received saying that the network gets people through periods of personal loneliness, periods of unemployment, loss of a loved one, or any number of life transitions.I for one have gone through a medical convalescence a few years ago of six weeks. I would watch one film, sometimes two, beginning very early in the morning as it was my habit to get up at that time. It was pretty cool to be able to catchup on many of the pictures I had stored on PVR. My medical troubles were short as l was fortunate to heal quickly. It is insular of me to not think of this for a person with a long term predicament.
Robert Osbourne spoke to this when he said that with our current world situation, why would people not want to see something uplifting? The network has a tremendous loyal following that is like a family that no other network can boast. You don’t see conventions, festivals or cruises for other networks. Some would say that networks such as this are selling your past back to you which is fine since that was what the studio system did. Movies eased people though the Depression, wars, societial transitions with larger then life faces. Momentary escape from what was going on was pretty good for a dime.
Today some people want realism or the opposite through effects. There will always be two ‘ camps’ for this debate which is quite alright. A strong example of new film making with an interesting, if not violant theme is the current MAD MAX… FURY ROAD which should still be in theatres. It would be tough to tell this story without the mayhem that goes with it yet is handled very well in terms of “implied” action. One does not need to see the the carnage to know that it is there.
Movies have always been a product of their time as audience change. Sometimes ‘simple’ is good.