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FLICK PICKS: TCM's Great Directors festival runs all through June
May 31, 2009  | By Diane Werts
goodfellas cast.jpg

Slide into summer with a cool cinema treat -- June's Great Directors festival on Turner Classic Movies. In fact, most days are a double, spotlighting two men who made the movies. (But no women, sorry to say. Even June 5's Carol Reed is male.)

Along with big-name helmers like first-nighter John Ford, and later honorees Federico Fellini and Steven Spielberg, TCM is also loading the lineup with films from golden-era guys whose names only big-time buffs are likely to recognize (Sam Wood, W.S. Van Dyke, Robert Z. Leonard).

Ford would be a fine way to kick things off on Monday, if he weren't actually second on the schedule. June 1's daytime hours are devoted to Leo McCarey light-touch gems like the Marx Brothers' delirious Duck Soup (2:30 p.m. ET) and the Cary Grant-Irene Dunne sparkler The Awful Truth (6:15 p.m. ET, both Monday on TCM). Ford's June 1 nighttime salute starts at 8 p.m. ET Monday with Directed by John Ford, the 1971 documentary narrated by Orson Welles and updated in 2006 by original director Peter Bogdanovich. Then come four of Ford's macho films with John Wayne, beginning with Stagecoach (10 p.m. ET, TCM).

The month's movie choices are quirky like that. June 2's daytime salute to Victor Fleming does not include either of Fleming's most famous (though co-directed) titles, not Gone With the Wind nor The Wizard of Oz. That night's collection of Frank Capra classics starts with It Happened One Night and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Tuesday at 8 and 10 p.m. ET, TCM) -- but wouldn't it have been great to include one of Capra's silent comedies with "fourth clown" Harry Langdon?

the crowd.jpgNot that TCM is slighting the silents. Getting primetime play June 3 is King Vidor's still-potent 1928 everyman portrait The Crowd (Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET), right after his 1973 interview in Richard Schickel's priceless profile series The Men Who Made the Movies (8 p.m. ET, both on TCM). But there's also camp -- Vidor's luridly sexed-up, crawl-across-the-rocks 1946 Technicolor western-potboiler Duel in the Sun(Wednesday night at 12:15 a.m. ET, TCM), with "Mexican" Jennifer Jones and depraved Gregory Peck chewing everything in sight. Not even Joseph Cotten and Lillian Gish come out unscathed. This one wasn't called "Lust in the Dust" for nothing.

Contemporary films are also on tap, when Great Directors moves beyond old-time Hollywood to encompass current kings on Friday nights -- Steven Spielberg (this Friday, June 5, Duel steven spielberg.jpgclimaxing with his death-race TV movie Duel); Woody Allen (June 12); and Martin Scorsese (June 19, including Goodfellas). Foreign filmmakers, too, get their due -- Sweden's Ingmar Bergman (this Thursday night, June 4, starting with his 1971 Dick Cavett Show interview and The Seventh Seal); Britain's Michael Powell (June 9; no Peeping Tom, though) and Tony Richardson (June 17); France's Francois Truffaut (June 18), and Italy's Federico Fellini (June 25).

You can print out TCM's entire June lineup here, but I've got some personal picks:

Musicals from Stanley Donen on June 8 -- On the Town, Royal Wedding, Singin' in the Rain, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Preston Sturges' pointed comedy on June 10 -- The Lady Eve, Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story, and Betty Hutton and Eddie Bracken's breathless tour de force in Sturges' long-shelved controversy magnet The Miracle of Morgan's Creek.

Biting wit from Billy Wilder on June 13 -- The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, The Fortune Cookie, Double Indemnity, Sunset Blvd. And more!

Orson Welles on June 16 -- Citizen Kane, The Lady From Shanghai, The Magnificent Ambersons, Macbeth.

Alfred Hitchcock's great James Stewart trilogy on June 27 -- The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rear Window, Vertigo.

This month on TCM, you really can't go wrong.


1 Comment


Tom said:

You finally have returned, and with a super-useful column to make the entrance even more grand. Missed your writing. Now, PLEASE don't sign a book deal. The first team is best when not distracted.


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