Guest Programmer: Matthew Modine - 11/24
Producer/director/writer/actor Matthew Modine, TCM Guest Programmer for November, developed his love of movies while growing up in California and Utah, where his father, Mark Alexander Modine, managed drive-in movies. After studying theatre and art in New York City, Matthew made his film-acting debut in Baby It's You (1983) and rose to movie stardom in Streamers (1983), Birdy (1984) and Vision Quest (1985). Other notable films in his prolific career have included Full Metal Jacket (1987), Married to the Mob (1988), Memphis Belle (1990), and Equinox (1992).
Modine's television credits include And the Band Played On (1993), Weeds (2007), Proof (2015) and the current hit series Stranger Things, for which he recently shared a Best Ensemble Performance award from the Screen Actors Guild. He has produced and/or directed a number of distinguished short films including When I Was a Boy (1993), Smoking (1994), and To Kill an American (2008). The busy Modine, who also lends his voice to animated films, has a full list of projects due in 2018.
Modine tells TCM host Ben Mankiewicz that, as a youth, he saw hundreds of movies sitting on the ground at one of his dad's drive-ins, with a speaker and a box of popcorn nearby. Three out of four of his programming picks were viewed that way, including The Dirty Dozen (1967). Because it was so popular an attraction, his dad frequently booked the film as a second feature, and Modine estimates that he saw it a total of 50 times! He admires the fact that, along with being a stirring war film, The Dirty Dozen is a "dark comedy" with an "amazing ensemble of actors" headed by Lee Marvin.
As his primary reason for choosing Cool Hand Luke (1967), Modine declares that "I love Paul Newman." From his very first scene in the film, he says, Newman "just tells you everything you need to know" about his character, and becomes "who we want to be as human beings, as men, to have his kind of strength and humor and unbreakability." A solid group of supporting actors includes Oscar-winner George Kennedy.
Modine considers Network (1976) to be "just one of the most perfect and best movies of all time, right at the top of my list." Again he cites an outstanding acting ensemble including Academy Award winners Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, and Beatrice Straight. Modine has particular praise for an actor who did not win an Oscar for his role - William Holden, who shows such "maturity and understanding of life, you can see it in his eyes."
Modine's final choice, the French drama Grand Illusion (1937), was a film he saw in an art house in New York City during his days there as an acting student. Jean Renoir's film focuses on a group of French officers taken prisoner by Germans during World War I, with Modine finding "so much beauty" in their relationships. Yet another strong group of actors is featured, leading Modine to realize that this sense of ensemble acting was a unifying quality in his choice of movies.
By Roger Fristoe