May Highlights on TCM
In partnership with The Film Foundation, Turner Classic Movies is proud to bring you this exclusive monthly column by iconic film director and classic movie lover Martin Scorsese.
ROBERT OSBORNE BIRTHDAY TRIBUTE (May 3, 8pm) Robert Osborne would have turned 86 on the 3rd of this month, and TCM is celebrating his memory with broadcasts of his Special Screening presentations of Dodsworth and Laura. We've discussed both of these pictures many times before in this column. They're both beloved classics. They were both particular favorites of Mr. Osborne, whose love for movies ran so deep. And both pictures are peaks in the history American cinema. This is a great opportunity to look at them again--to share them with Robert Osborne on the anniversary of his birth.
STARRING ROBERT DONAT (May 7, 8pm) This month also features a celebration of a great British actor. Robert Donat had the chance to be a Hollywood star, but he made just two pictures over here before he returned to England in the mid-30s (he was offered the lead in Captain Blood and turned it down). He had the chance to act in only 19 pictures before his death at the age of 53--he was physically fragile (he had debilitating asthma for many years, and he died of a brain tumor)--but onscreen it was a different story. King Vidor, who directed him in The Citadel (not being shown here), wrote that Donat had the ability to physically transform himself and create the illusion of being much more formidable than he actually was. Every one of his performances is very special, and that includes the five that make up this tribute. Hitchcock's The 39 Steps is one of his best-known pictures, and it's so good that it's possible to see it many times without realizing just how good Donat is, and how important he is to the feel of the movie--the energy, the mix of comedy and exhilaration and terror. I also want to say a word for The Winslow Boy, Anthony Asquith's 1948 adaptation of Terrence Rattigan's play, inspired by the true story of a young naval cadet in Edwardian England who was falsely accused of stealing a postal order. It's the story of a small incident that dramatizes the class divisions of a whole nation, and Donat is extraordinary as the barrister who defends the boy.
MEMORIAL DAY MARATHON (May 25-28) At the end of this month, TCM will be running another Memorial Day weekend marathon--37 pictures in four days, including Twelve O'Clock High, They Were Expendable, Pride of the Marines, The Bridge on the River Kwai and, of course, William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives, a picture that grows more eloquent and powerful with each passing year. We've covered all of these pictures in this column on earlier occasions. Each one is essential--as cinema, of course, and also as an embodiment of a time, now long gone, when the memory of WWII was a powerful force. Movies carry the DNA of their time, said the critic Manny Farber. These very different pictures each embody the tragedy of the war and the immensity of its role in our lives.
by Martin Scorsese