Another TCM Film Fest movie/moment problem solution

More complaining — but it’s about the good kind of “embarrassment of riches” problem here at TCM Fest. You see, because it’s on opposite Donald Bogle’s Out of Circulation Cartoons presentation, I’m going to have to miss a true bit of cinema comfort food for yours truly, 1938’s “The Adventures of Robin Hood.” Of course, especially considering the much higher than usual $20 ticket price, I’m lucky to be able to go to these on a press pass.

Still, if time simply won’t allow me to see the film version tonight, at least I have this five second version of the classic, which really does underline what’s to love about the Warner Brothers’ Technicolor classic.

Okay, so it’s more than five seconds. And (spoiler arlert), here’s the Lego version of the climactic sword fight between the heroic Robin (Errol Flynn) and the villainous Sir Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone). Even in Legos, it’s still apparent that Rathbone is actually the better swordsman.

  

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Traditional pirates

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Today is also the first full day of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). That can mean only thing — this weekend we’ll be pairing clips from classic pirate movies with scenes from 1971’s “Fiddler on the Roof,” Norman Jewison’s film version of the gigantically successful Broadway musical about ordinary Jews living in pre-revolutionary Czarist Russia. That makes sense, right?

So, we begin with with this clip from 1935’s “Captain Blood” starring Errol Flynn as a good guy doctor forced into the life of a buccaneer. In this scene, Flynn begins his habit of killing character acting great Basil Rathbone in swordfights. The irony was that Rathbone was actually an extraordinarily good fencer, far better than Flynn. Still, can’t let the hawk-nosed baddie kill the handsome hero, right?

This longish sequence features some really great pirate (over) acting from Rathbone, some nice moments between Flynn and gorgeous female lead Olivia de Haviland and stunning location photography (actually Laguna Beach in South Orange County). Still, if you want to cut straight to the sword fight — which is pretty cool — it starts at about 5:45.

And now, Tevye the Milkman (Israel’s Topol) explains it all for you.

  

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More remakes

* The word has arrived of Steven Spielberg‘s new project, it’s a remake of a particular favorite of mine, Mary Chase’s terrific play “Harvey,” best known for the solid 1950 film version starring Jimmy Stewart in one of his best roles. (He reprised the part for TV in 1972.) Nikki Finke mentions Tom Hanks‘ name for the plum lead role of Elwood P. Dowd, a grown man who believes his best buddy and constant companion is an invisible 6’6″ rabbit. I’ve also seen Will Smith‘s name floated for it (he’s maybe a bit young for the part, still), but any number of actors could take this one on in fine fashion. It’s also possible Hanks might be a bit leery about stepping into a role so closely associated with the actor he’s most often compared to, but therein may lie the challenge, too. Jeffrey Wells inveighs against the project, in the usual terms. I think it’s fine, as long as Spielberg and writer Jonathon Tropper bring something new and worthwhile of their own to this version.

One interesting aspect here is the way that our present age is in some respects more puritanical than America in 1950, particularly as it relates to drinking. Most modern viewers would likely regard Elwood Dowd as an alcoholic today. (In the old days, I remember that TV Guide referred to him as a “gentle tippler.”) Will Spielberg and Tropper try to send Elwood to rehab? I say, no, no, no. Also, I sure hope Wells is wrong about the CGI Harvey. That would pretty much eliminate the whole point of the tale. This is not “Roger Rabbit.”

* I’m a bit late on this, but the planned remake of the Michael Curtiz-directed Errol Flynn swashbuckler — or, to be more kind, the new adaptation of the 1922 Rafael Sabatini novel of derring-do on the high seas — should really be called “Captain Blood in Outer Space” now. By the way, the 1935 “Captain Blood” was actually the second version of the tale to be made in Hollywood. Damn remakes.

* One way to avoid the whole “remakes bad” thing is to use a movie that hardly anyone in your target audience has seen. The French spy thriller, “Anthony Zimmer,” may be available through Netflix, but it there are only three reviews posted of the 2005 film on Rotten Tomatoes, which means it likely only showed in the U.S. at festivals and the like. When the new version, renamed “The Tourist,” comes out with Charlize Theron and Sam Worthington, will anyone remember “Zimmer”?

* Anne Thompson has some thoughts on the general timidity of Hollywood. She’s not wrong, particularly when it comes to the endless recycling of once-hot properties, but — at the risk of repeating myself — I really do think that most of the complaining is off-base to the extent that there’s really nothing new under the sun and that even “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet” were essentially remakes the very first time they ever appeared on an Elizabethan stage. When remakes are good (say, “3:10 to Yuma“) no one complains, though too many forget the original. When remakes are bad (“The Wicker Man“, which was worse than bad, actually), well, the fault is not in the idea of remakes but in what the filmmaker decided to do with the material.

  

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