August Highlights on TCM
WILLIAM HOLDEN (August 21)--William Holden meant something very special to those of us who went to the movies regularly in the '50s and '60s. He began as a handsome juvenile but by the early '50s he already seemed older than his years. Maybe it wasn't his appearance as much as his manner--intelligent, charming, terminally disenchanted and (this was the key) privately experiencing a sea of emotion beneath the surface. It was often exciting to watch him playing a role--sometimes it was like a movie within the movie. He sounded notes that no other actor could sound, in comedies and romantic melodramas, war pictures and westerns, no matter what the setting or the situation. He was "hard-bitten," as people used to say, and urbane, and his elegant, ironic dialogue readings often had a musical lilt. He was, in all ways, a remarkable star and actor, right up to the end. Some of my very favorite Holden pictures are not included in TCM's tribute, including Sunset Blvd. and The Bridges at Toko-Ri, but they are showing quite a few of his signature films, including Force of Arms, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Picnic (which contains one of the most romantic scenes in American cinema of the period, Holden's dance with Kim Novak to "Moonglow") and an underrated horse-racing picture called Boots Malone. The tribute also includes Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, one of the greatest pictures of the '60s and one of the peaks of Holden's career. He and Robert Ryan, another great actor from the same period who was just as temperamentally complex, both give performances in that movie that rise to tragic dimensions.
CATHERINE DENEUVE (August 12)--Catherine Deneuve has made over 100 pictures between 1957 and today, with some of the greatest directors who ever worked in cinema including Jacques Demy, Roman Polanski, Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Melville, Robert Aldrich and Leos Carax. She has always been one of the most beautiful women in movies, but she is also one of the greatest and most surprising actresses. It's astonishing to look at the range of her work, to see her shifting between the psychological complexities of Buñuel's Belle de Jour and Tristana or Polanski's Repulsion, the tensions of Truffaut's The Last Metro (where her character has to keep her attention balanced between the theater she manages in occupied Paris, her work as an actress, her Jewish husband hiding in the basement, the Nazis and French collaborators who keep her under close watch, and her infatuation with her co-star, a resistance fighter played by Gérard Depardieu) and the stylized, operatic world of Demy's Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Deneuve is herself a genuine movie lover, and she is a real artist of the cinema: she has a filmmaker's awareness of herself in the frame--the light, the color and the dynamics of her interactions with her fellow actors. TCM's tribute includes all the pictures I've mentioned, and three other overlooked films that I'd like to note. Melville's Un Flic is the director's last picture, and it's still quite underrated. She co-stars with Alain Delon and Richard Crenna, and when you're watching the film it feels like she's always been a part of Melville's special universe. Mississippi Mermaid by Truffaut is also underrated, a picture that becomes darker and more surprising as it proceeds. André Téchiné's 1993 film My Favorite Season is an emotionally powerful family melodrama and Deneuve is extremely moving, particularly in the scenes with her co-star Daniel Auteuil.
by Martin Scorsese