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FLICK PICKS: Akira Kurosawa (& Ginger Rogers)
March 10, 2010  | By Diane Werts
Kurosawa Yojimbo TCM.jpg


Film school is free this Tuesday (March 23) as Turner Classic Movies celebrates the films that vaulted director Akira Kurosawa to international fame. Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo -- these three titles made this Japanese filmmaker a global cinema god.

Rashomon has become a word of its own, signifying the viewing of a single event from different perspectives. The Seven Samurai would be morphed into The Magnificent Seven for American audiences, but it would also introduce samurai culture to the masses. And Yojimbo sealed the fame of Toshiro Mifune [photo above], a Kurosawa favorite who dominates the screen here as a reluctant warrior-for-hire with a wicked sense of humor, playing both sides against each other for his own feudal amusement. Made between 1950 and 1961 (and shown on TCM starting at 8 p.m. ET March 23), they were Kurosawa's crowning achievements until his late-career resurgence with the '80s epics Kagemusha and Ran. (TCM unreels those March 30.)

Read the original post below for more on this week's Ginger Rogers slate in TCM's Wednesday star of the month slot.



Ginger Rogers is in the money for St. Patrick's Day. Turner Classic Movies' salute to this versatile actress continues with a double feature of her snappy Warner Bros. Depression musicals 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 (Wednesday at 8 and 10 p.m. ET, TCM), made before her RKO pairing with Fred Astaire. After shuffling off to Buffalo in Busby Berkeley's geometric choreography, Rogers shows her acting range in four pre-code flicks spanning comedy, drama and war.

But first, on Tuesday night, TCM's March salute to Akira Kurosawa spotlights his crime thrillers -- a side of the director little known to Americans who think first of his period samurai epics. Kurosawa could get down and gritty, too, in contemporary dramas of post-war Japan like The Bad Sleep Well and High and Low (Tuesday, March 16 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET, TCM).

Read the original post below for further details on these two essential March collections.



Tonight's marathon of all 10 musicals pairing Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire is just the beginning of a monthlong salute to Rogers on Turner Classic Movies. The channel's March lineup also boasts a celebration of Japanese master Akira Kurosawa, making this another bang-up month demonstrating why the commercial-free channel remains movie lovers' favorite.

Wednesday nights are devoted to Rogers, and though it's natural to start with those legendary Fred-and-Ginger musicals, the rest of the 43-film slate illustrates Rogers' decades of Hollywood versatility through comedy, drama and even westerns. TCM runs the F&G musicals in order tonight, except for holding until last their initial pairing as supporting players in 1933's Flying Down to Rio.

Ginger Rogers Gold Diggers 1933.jpg

Here's the March 10-11 running order, all times ET -- The Gay Divorcee (Wednesday at 8 p.m.), Top Hat (10 p.m.), Swing Time (midnight), Roberta (2 a.m., with Irene Dunne), Follow the Fleet (4 a.m., with a young Lucille Ball), Shall We Dance (Thursday at 6 a.m.), Carefree (8 a.m.), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (9:30 a.m.), 1949's The Barkleys of Broadway (11:15 a.m.), and finally Flying Down to Rio (Thursday at 1:15 p.m., all on TCM).

Next Wednesday (March 17), TCM covers Rogers' early '30s career, starting with the classic Busby Berkeley musicals 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1933 [photo at left], and also including rarities like 1931's Coney Island/U-boats early talkie Suicide Fleet.

On March 24, it's later '30s treats like Bachelor Mother and Stage Door (opposite Katharine Hepburn), while March 31 wraps things up with 11 films of wide range, from her Oscar-winning turn in 1940 drama Kitty Foyle to the 1943 war story Tender Comrade and her 1956 comedy western The First Traveling Saleslady.

Kurosawa gets his due Tuesdays on TCM, with 26 films this March honoring the 100th anniversary of the influential director's birth. Next Tuesday (March 16) features his contemporary dramas of '50s-'60s Japan, including the crime thrillers The Bad Sleep Well and High and Low.

Global-breakthrough period films like Rashomon, The Seven Samurai and Yojimbo [above] highlight a 13-film around-the clock marathonMarch 23-24.

kurosawa ran.jpgLate-career epics Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha and Ran [at left] conclude the Kurosawa salute March 30.

TCM even throws in a bonus March 21 double feature of American films inspired by Kurosawa's -- The Outrage (based on Rashomon) and The Magnificent Seven (The Seven Samurai).

Click here for the complete lineups honoring Ginger Rogers and Akira Kurosawa.

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