It’s been a while since I’ve sung the praises of Turner Classic Movies, but their May schedule is worthy of some praise-singing. The TCM Star of the Month is Orson Welles, which means every Wednesday (starting today) you’ll see a month-long, 20-film festival of Welles’ work, including five films new to the TCM rotation. Today’s schedule includes Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Lady from Shanghai and Touch of Evil— but it’s the following Wednesdays that reveal some relatively rare treats for Welles fans and neophytes alike.
May 11 highlights Welles the actor with Tomorrow is Forever (Irving Pichel, 1946), Man in the Shadow (Jack Arnold, 1957), The Tartars (Richard Thorpe, 1961) and Is Paris Burning? (1966, Rene Clement), as well as the 2004 documentary Shadowing The Third Man."
Come May 18, it’s Welles the director in the spotlight again, with his provocative take on Othello (1952), Mr. Arkadin (1955), The Immortal Story (1968), The Trial (1963) and, most notably, F for Fake (1976), which was recently released on DVD from Criterion.
And on May 25 TCM’s Welles menu begins with Norman Foster’s Journey Into Fear (1942) starring Welles, Joseph Cotten and Dolores Del Rio, followed by Welles’ The Stranger (1946), the bloated Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967), The V.I.P.s (Anthony Asquith, 1963), and two which offer only Welles’ mellifluous vocal talents, Duel in the Sun (King Vidor, 1946) and King of Kings (Nicholas Ray, 1961). Too bad they forgot his wonderful narration bits in Bud Yorkin’s Start the Revolution Without Me and Mel Brooks’ History of the World Part I...
But even more of a treat than the Welles collection is TCM’s Cine Mexicano: The Golden Age, a 17-film salute to the rich heritage of Mexican cinema, which starts out on May 5 with a day-long tribute to Luis Bunuel, featuring Los Olvidados (1950), Nazarin (1959), Viridiana (1961), The Exterminating Angel (1962) and Simon of the Desert(1965). Also, on May 12, is a program of films directed by Emilio Fernandez, a reputable director who is probably more well known to Americans from his role as General Mapache in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. Fernandez’s adaptation of John Steinbeck's The Pearl (La Perla) (1947) is the standout here, with two others, Maria Candelaria (1944) and Enamorada (1946) also featured.
Stock up on the blank DVDs or videotapes and enjoy!