DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

MONIQUE NAZARETH

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
 
 
 
FLICK PICKS: Epic films festival
December 17, 2009  | By Diane Werts
 
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Big movies deserve a big documentary salute. Instead, they get one that's been compressed and contorted like a piece of origami. Disappointing -- but at least we have the blockbusters themselves to look forward on Turner Classic Movies this Sunday.

That's when TCM premieres not only its monthly genre clipfest -- A Night at the Movies: The Gigantic World of Epics (Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, TCM) -- but also 24 hours of the big-bigger-biggest movies that made Hollywood a global name. Westerns, easterns, ancients and sacreds -- they're all here.

TCM's Sunday night festival includes two versions of the Jesus biopic The King of Kings -- both sound (9 p.m. ET, from 1961, starring Jeffrey Hunter, later known as the guy William Shatner replaced on Star Trek) and silent (midnight ET, 1927, with H.B. Warner). There's also Charlton Heston in the 1959 spectacle Ben-Hur (Sunday at 4 p.m. ET). Hope you caught 1925's silent version last Sunday night, featuring the original (and, some argue, ultimate) version of the classic chariot race.king of kings hunter.jpg

Earlier in the day, How the West Was Won (Sunday at 9:30 a.m. ET) can only approximate its 1962 theatrical impact in widescreen Cinerama, but it's still a sweeping panorama following four generations on the American frontier. Doctor Zhivago (Sunday at 12:30 p.m. ET) takes the action to Russia for revolutionary fervor in the snow (and Julie Christie). Raintree County (Sunday at 6 a.m. ET) is 1957's 70mm Civil War saga with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift (during the filming of which Clift suffered his fateful, disfiguring car wreck).

children of paradise.jpg

TCM even throws in its weekly-showcased foreign film. Marcel Carne's 1943 Children of Paradise (Sunday night at 2:45 a.m. ET) is a backstage theater tale of 19th century romance and intrigue -- or is it a metaphorical portrayal of the then-current French resistance to Nazi occupiers?

Too bad that the festival's Night at the Movies hour tracing the history of epics feels so condensed, disjointed and, well, small. It's about big canvas films with sweep, yet uses more stills than clips in attempting to convey that. Crammed with talking heads offering choppy observations, the whole thing plays like it's on fast-forward. (At least there's no Martin Scorsese.) With a century of grandeur to encompass, this low-budget hour is far too tiny to do the job.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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