Saturday, 24 January 2009


Elvis Extraordinaire

Thanks to a certain resident of the Land of Cerpts and Honey I have been able to sit down, put my feet up, and watch four back to back segments of TCM's interview programme UNDER THE INFLUENCE. The English TCM Channel is but a pale imitation of its American cousin. Over in Obamaland TCM takes its films as seriously as BBC2 used to before the rot set in - remember the glory days when Auntie Beeb's second channel did a season of no less than seventeen John Ford Films, including rarities like STEAMBOAT 'ROUND THE BEND ? TCM across the pond still treats movies with respect. UNDER THE INFLUENCE features film critic Elvis Mitchell in a series of interviews with film luminaries who are give the chance to talk about the films and film makers who have influenced them. The four episodes I watched featured the late lamented Sidney Pollack, Laurence Fishbourne, Quentin Tarantino and Bill Murray. While I quite enjoy Tarantino and, cinematically, know where he is coming from, his interviews hack me off - he's an undisciplined motor mouth who really ends up telling you nothing that he hasn't told you before. The other three interviewees inpressed me no end and all surprised me - Pollack relating the kindness shown to him by Burt Lancaster, Fishbourne citing Clark Gable as a major influence along with lavishing accolades on Mantan Moreland and Bill Murray picking Margaret Sullivan as one of the funniest screen actresses. These three came over as witty, intelligent and self effacing in the best possible way. Heaps of praise too for the erudite Mr.Mitchell who draws his subjets out in a chatty conversational manner and is not afraid to let his draw drop at some of the surprising answers. I want to see more of this guy. The final comment must be about Tarantino who lambasted an actor for not knowing who Leni Reifenstahl was and then proceeded to call her Lena!

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

I must say I was shocked to hear how utterly abyssmal your version of TCM (which I believe you said is known in England as "Total Crap Movies") compared to the American version which, as you say, has treated films with a great deal of respect and takes pride in its UNCUT AND COMMERCIAL FREE status. I can't imagine why the difference! But I'm very glad you enjoyed the UNDER THE INFLUENCE show. I quite enjoy the format in that we've seen actors and directors time and time again interviewed about their own work -- it's refreshing to hear actors and directors talk about the films THEY were influenced by instead.