November 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.
PIONEERS: FIRST WOMEN FILMMAKERS, Part I (November 1, 8pm)--This month, TCM is presenting a tribute to early women filmmakers, and I'd like to draw your attention to the three pictures that were directed by Alice Guy-Blaché. These were the first three films featured in the program and that's appropriate, because Blaché was one of the very first filmmakers in the history of cinema. She began as Léon Gaumont's secretary, and she was present at the first presentation of Auguste and Louis Lumière's Workers Leaving The Factory. In 1896, she made her own film, The Cabbage Fairy, considered to be the very first fiction film. That same year, she was made head of production at Gaumont, where she stayed for ten years. In 1907, she married Herbert Blaché, and when he was appointed head of Gaumont's American operations in 1908 they moved to New York. Two years later, they opened their own studio, Solax, in Flushing, and in 1912 they moved to an even a bigger facility in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Blaché tried everything: comedies, vaudeville skits, trick photography, double exposures, color tinting, early experiments with synchronized sound. She was a master of visual storytelling and her films are unusually beautiful--for instance, the 1912 Falling Leaves, which is being shown as part of the tribute. In the early 20s, filmmaking shifted to the West coast and she had to sell off her studio to avoid bankruptcy. And, like Georges Méliès, Alice Guy Blaché was forgotten by the industry and the art form she had helped to create. In the '50s, she tried to find prints of the 1000 films she had directed, and at the time she could not locate one single title. Since then, 350 films have been found and preserved. There's actually a new documentary about this remarkable filmmaker, called Be Natural by Pamela Green. But first, make sure that you see some of Blaché's own pictures: Falling Leaves, The Ocean Waif and A House Divided, three of her very best.
TCM SPOTLIGHT: THE ART OF CASTING (Tuesdays in November, 8pm)--There's an interesting Spotlight program this month called "The Art of Casting." I should say that one of my own pictures, Mean Streets, is included in the program, but that's not why I wanted to focus on it. There are so many elements that make up the life of a movie, and casting is somewhat like the central building block, the cell from which everything grows. Try to picture any given movie with just one different actor--to take a few titles from this program, try Casablanca with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, or The Best Years of Our Lives with William Powell in the Fredric March role, to take just two easily imaginable alternate outcomes--and you're talking about a different movie. Thinking of a movie, plotting it out, visualizing and structuring it, is preparing the ground for the actor to bring life to their characters and to each other, and to witness it all happening and coming to life is no less miraculous to me now than it was when I made my very first pictures.
by Martin Scorsese