Tag Archives: Mickey One

Film on TV: March 30-April 5

Sorry I didn’t get last week’s up AT ALL. Didn’t get it done on Sunday, and then wasn’t home for more than ten waking minutes on Monday or Tuesday, and then it just didn’t seem worth it anymore.

Monday, March 30

1:45am – IFC – The Royal Tenenbaums

4:30am (31st) – TCM – Mickey One
I wrote about this film a few months ago when I saw it play at the local repertory cinema as part of a Warren Beatty retrospective. It’s not available on DVD, and I’ve never seen TCM play it before, so you might want to catch it now if you’re at all interested in a pre-Bonnie & Clyde attempt to bring French New Wave styles to American film.

Tuesday, March 31

3:30pm – TCM – Sweet Smell of Success
Ah, the acerbic, cutthroat world of celebrity publicists, back in the days before Perez Hilton and TMZ…Tony Curtis is the hungry publicist trying to get hotshot columnist Burt Lancaster to print his gossip items. It all gets complicated with Lancaster’s sister and her fiance, who Lancaster doesn’t like, and there’s conniving and back-stabbing aplenty, all to the cynically witty dialogue of Clifford Odets.

9:30pm – TCM – Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Classic 1950s sci-fi paranoia, right here. They don’t make them like this anymore, even when they try (2007’s The Invasion).

12:00M – IFC – The Cooler

2:00am (1st) – TCM – Forbidden Planet
The Tempest. In outer space. What else do you need to know?

Wednesday, April 1

6:00am – TCM – The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
The silent version of Hugo’s classic, with Man of a Thousand Faces Lon Chaney.

8:00am – TCM – The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
And another Lon Chaney silent horror classic.

9:45pm – IFC – Trainspotting
(repeats 4:00am on the 2nd)

12:00M – IFC – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
(repeats 7:15am and 12:45pm on the 2nd)

3:45am (2nd) – TCM – Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Thursday, April 2

6:30am – TCM – The Bridge on the River Kwai

9:35am – IFC – A Hard Day’s Night

6:20pm – IFC – Mighty Aphrodite
Woody Allen’s good at directing women, and here he directs Mira Sorvino to a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

8:00pm – IFC – Chasing Amy
Kevin Smith’s third film, not as low-fi indie as Clerks, as goofy as Mallrats, as irreverently genius as Dogma, as self-referential as Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, or as racy as Zach and Miri Make a Porno, but perhaps sweeter than all of them – Ben Affleck falls for Joey Lauren Adams, with the only slight obstacle being that she’s gay.
(repeats 2:05am on the 3rd)

10:00pm – IFC – Garden State
(repeats 4:15am, 9:45am, and 4:15pm on the 3rd)

2:00am (3rd) – Sundance – Oldboy
Ultra-violent revenge films don’t get much better than this. Okay, maybe Kill Bill, but that’s a whole other thing. This Korean bloodfest is dark and unrelenting from start to finish. Hollywood’s about to remake it, but they’re gonna screw it up. Mark my words.

Friday, April 3

7:35am – IFC – Miller’s Crossing
The Coens do gangsters, 1930s-style.
(repeats at 2:15pm)

11:30am – TCM – On the Waterfront
Marlon Brando’s signature role, as a blue-collar dock worker caught in a labor dispute. He coulda been a contender, yo. Just sayin’. I need to stop writing these in the middle of the night. I get silly.

1:30pm – TCM – Sayonara
Not as well-known a Brando film as Waterfront or Streetcar, but it’s quite good from what I remember – a sobering post-WWII look at soldiers leaving Japan, including great supporting turns by Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umecki is an interracial couple (both of them won Oscars).

4:00pm – TCM – The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Not my fave Hitchcock film, but any Hitchcock film is better than most other films, right? Right.

6:00pm – IFC – The New World
(repeats 4:00am on the 4th)

8:15pm – IFC – Moulin Rouge!
(repeats 1:45am on the 4th)

2:30am (4th) – Sundance – 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days

Saturday, April 4

8:00am – IFC – The Seven Samurai

6:00pm – TCM – Shane
Alan Ladd plays the titular cowboy, idolized by the young son of the family he takes refuge with as he tries to escape Jack Palance.

8:00pm – TCM – Take the Money and Run
A very early Woody Allen movie, when he was mostly focused on being funny and absurd, and this film is both. It’s actually my favorite of the pre-Annie Hall Allen films.

9:45pm – IFC – Fargo
(repeats 3:00am on the 5th)

11:15pm – TCM – Best in Show
Christopher Guest brings his patented mockumentary touch to the world of dog shows, and while I can’t really say I’m that interested in dog shows (and would never have thought of them for spoofing), Best in Show is hilarious.

1:00am (5th) – TCM – This is Spinal Tap
The mockumentary that started it all goes to eleven. Tell you what, I can’t stand eighties hair bands, but I love this film to pieces. Should tell you something about how awesome it is.

Sunday, April 5

Nothing!

Film Classics: Mickey One

Mickey One

directed by Arthur Penn
starring: Warren Beatty, Alexandra Stewart, Hurt Hatfield, Franchot Tone
USA 1965; screened 19 September 2008 at the Silent Movie Theatre, Los Angeles

In the mid-1960s, Warren Beatty worked to push the envelope of possible leading man roles in Hollywood. Influenced by the anti-heroes and non-commital style of the French New Wave, he sought as actor and producer to move away from the typical pretty boy roles in bland films that other Hollywood actors were performing.

In the rarely-screened Mickey One, he plays a stand-up comic on the run from the mobsters who gave him his start and now own him. Such a plot sounds like the set-up for a farce along the lines of Some Like It Hot, but in the hands of Beatty and director Arthur Penn, it becomes instead a dark, paranoia-filled trip through the underbelly of the nightclub industry. It’s never entirely clear whether the mob is still after Mickey as he slowly returns to the stage, supported by Jenny, the girl who urges him that his fears are unfounded. The hints that they are may merely be in his head, transferred to the audience through our identification with him.

Unfortunately, Beatty and Penn don’t always get the tonal balance between American crime film and New Wave drama quite right. New Wave heroes project a devil-may-care bravado even over their inner fears – a confidence Mickey can’t even believably feign most of the time. He desperately wants to know who exactly is after him, why, and what he can do to either confront and eliminate them or escape them permanently; but he is too afraid to actually try to find out – until the end when recklessness overcomes even his paranoia. The only times the awkward tension between deterministic apathy and paranoid truth-seeking seems to work unequivocally are during Mickey’s comedy routines (including his impromptu goofing when he first meets Jenny). When he’s performing, his forced bravado and tormented anguish merge uncomfortably, yes, but believably, turning him into the chatty version of Truffaut and Godard’s quietly desperate characters – he just wears his desperation on the outside instead.

The difficulty of melding New Wave styles into American film stems, to some degree, from the philosophical differences between France and the United States in the early to mid 1960s. France had lost two World Wars (or won only with foreign aid after surrendering), undergone a painful conflict with Algeria, and was nearing the political upheavals of the late 1960s – combined with the influence of existentialism, the fatalism of New Wave heroes is not wholly unexpected. The United States was still riding the tail end of the post-war boom, and though American noir of the 1940s and 50s had its share of existential heroes, American films tend to be more optimistic. (And the 1960s mainstream Hollywood that Beatty was reacting against could be almost sickeningly optimistic.) Yet, it’s not an impossible feat – Beatty and Penn would incorporate New Wave style into a quintessentially American story perfectly only two years later in Bonnie & Clyde. So count Mickey One as a not wholly successful but still extremely interesting and worthwhile experiment on the way to the heights of Bonnie & Clyde.

*note: I’m sure there are other influences on Mickey One; Cassavetes seems probable. I use the New Wave because I’m more familiar with it, and sort of in love with it right now. Plus the programmer at the Silent Movie Theatre mentioned the New Wave in relation to Mickey One and Bonnie & Clyde, so I had it in my head while I was watching the film.

Above Average