Tag Archives: KCET

Unforgiven on KCET

Tonight and tomorrow on KCET, they’ll be airing another western, Unforgiven (1992).

I hadn’t seen it in a long time. But it was the first of it’s genre that I recall watching. Of the first three DVDs I got to choose from, Unforgiven was one of them.

I wasn’t sure if it was what I remembered it to be. I’m one to reevaluate such things, put them in context. Did I recall it more fondly because I watched it with my whole family, who enjoyed it, including my parents, who didn’t often sit down in front of the TV. (Clint Eastwood was the draw there; my dad liked Dirty Harry, probably more because he was like that character, and well, my mom, the good Catholic girl, married him.) Did it make more of an impact because it was first? Or am I not giving its due because of the same reason.

What I recalled about it, was it was a revenge tale, or a series of tragic character flaws that build leave us ill at ease, cumulating in a cathartic act of revenge. I remember liking the acting, the cast, the story arc. I remembered William Munny sitting shivering in the bar, feverishly fighting with his conscience rearing up in the form of old ghosts a la Richard III, and getting the shit kicked out of him when he’s at his lowest. It’s textbook Aristotle plot structure. (And that’s a good thing. And not being fancy, I took some English Lit at community college while trying to get acting jobs.)

The screenplay, originally titled The Cut-Whore Killings, was written by David Peoples in 1976. I took a quick glance at it, the beginning, and I’m not sure what year the draft I saw was written, but it was early enough. Because there were changes from what we see on screen. The ages of William Munny, and Alice, both older in the film. Widens the divide between them and the youngsters in the movie. Interesting that I realize Ned is not specified as black. Funny that I thought nothing of that as a kid. That there didn’t need to be such segregation, that inclusion didn’t have to be mandated or a financial ploy, could just be a good actor.

It’s a great script. Wish I saw auditions like that come my way.

But one interesting change, that one would see right away, is the beginning. And the end.

I thought of it, as a tale of justice.

I didn’t remember the love story.

Instead of opening with a crude f***ing in a whorehouse. (Ah, if you object to such language, this movie is not for you!) It opens with a wide shot of a beautifully painted rural sunset. In silhouette, a man digs a grave under the canopy of a tree. And you see the crawl,

She was a comely young woman
and not without prospects. Therefore
it was at once heartbreaking and
astonishing to her mother that she
would enter into marriage with William
Munny, a known thief and murderer, a
man of notoriously vicious and
intemperate disposition.

In the script, it starts,

Of good family, albeit one of modest
means, she was a comely young woman
and not without prospects. Therefore
it was at once heartbreaking and
astonishing to her mother that she
would enter into marriage with William
Munny, a known thief and murderer, a
man of notoriously vicious and
intemperate disposition.

Good editing. Stronger beginning, because it starts with what is important. “She.” Claudia. Who is seen only once in the movie, in a photograph.

Now, a lot of stories will add love or some tragedy with a ham-fisted way of trying to illicit our own emotion.

But the way Mr. Eastwood delivers the film, she is the heart of the story. A personification of love, of forgiveness, of the good in him. Because there was good in him before her. It can’t be that she was a saint who managed to drag him from the myriad of sin in which he indulged. No. No man changes unless he wants to, unless he has the love and the good inside him to want to change.

Well. I could go on. I was going to talk about the use of tall-tale telling and silence. Or the use of sound. Or the gray line between good and bad, so very noir.

But I think you should just watch the movie yourself.

And, I should do something productive :)

KCET’s new classic movie series

Begins tonight, Friday, July 8th @ 9pm.

It’s funny. I was going to write to their publicity person that he should let me know if they did more with classic movies. I never sent off the email, but got a reply in a way anyway.

This summer, KCET will be airing timeless Hollywood movies in a new series of programming called KCET MUST SEE MOVIES. They’ll air on Friday evening @ 9pm, with an encore presentation Saturday afternoon @ 4pm. I think this is great news. While I’ve enjoyed some of their documentaries, 442nd: Live With Honor, Die With Dignity was particularly interesting, and will browse through their British mystery imports on my tablet, I’m glad to see classic movies being shown commercial free to a wide audience. The station should be available throughout Southern and Central California, and I believe it’s available on-line for others at KCET.org, though I don’t can’t be sure there aren’t location restrictions.

I must admit, I haven’t seen the first movie, Funny Girl in its entirety, but should be great, I did like Ms. Streisand’s performance in the clips I’ve seen; she and Omar Sharif play out their complicated relationship with nice push and pull. Hm, the to ear it sounds like it should be “her,” but grammar wise seems like it should be “she.”

Ah, Gilda. Although the story technically revolves around the relationship between the two men in the picture, they’re simply eclipsed by Rita Hayworth. Probably the role she’s most identified with—I’m not sure what the exact quote is, if there was one, but she’s often cited as saying, alluding to her rocky love life, something along the lines that men would go to bed with Gilda, and wake up with her. (I like that kind of self-awareness.) As troubled as she might have been, she still perfectly captivates seventy years later.

I don’t think I’ve seen more of Queen Christina than the infamous ending, which is often brought up in film textbooks and, by film students giving acting advice, the gist being that in film acting an actor often doesn’t have to do “as much” and can leave the audience to project their own interpretations to a blank slate. (There’s truth to this but I have heard it too many times and completely out of context that unless it’s coming with a paycheck, it’s annoying.) I did recently see Garbo in Ninotchka, a delightful Ernst Lubitsch comedy, so am interest in this one. As with the other two, it sounds like it’s about an unideal love affair.

Be sure to look for them on your schedule.

From the notice I received:

The July lineup for KCET MUST SEE MOVIES is as follows:

July 8 – “Funny Girl” Premieres Fri., July 8, 9 p.m.
In this bittersweet, classic musical drama, the vibrant and beautiful young Fanny Brice (Barbra Streisand) starts out as a bit player on the New York City vaudeville stage, but works her way up to stardom on Broadway. Valued for her vocal and comedic
talents by the renowned theater impresario Florenz Ziegfeld (Walter Pidgeon), Fanny thrives, but her relationship with her suave, imprisoned businessman husband, Nick Arnstein (Omar Sharif), is another story. (1968)

July 15 – “Gilda” Premieres Fri., July 15, 9 p.m.
An American black and white film noir directed by Charles Vidor and starring Rita Hayworth in her signature role as the ultimate femme fatale and Glenn Ford as a gambling cheat who turns straight in order to work for an unsettling casino owner. But
things take a turn as his alluring ex-lover appears
and turns out to be his new boss’ wife. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or
aesthetically significant.” (1946)

July 22 – “Queen Christina” Premieres Fri., July 22, 9 p.m.
Queen Christina of Sweden is a popular monarch who is loyal to her country. However, when she falls in love with a Spanish envoy, she must choose between the throne and the man she loves. This is one of Greta Garbo’s quintessential, most-remembered
screen portrayals with glowing scenes that reflect the mystique of the lovely, enigmatic actress. (1933)

An online hub will update the calendar for future KCET MUST SEE MOVIES while KCET’s Facebook and Twitter platforms will offer up various trivia questions around each of the films. For more information on the July lineup of KCET MUST SEE MOVIES, including
descriptions, images, and highlights please visit [ http://www.kcet.org/shows/link_voices/ ]kcet.org/MustSeeMovies.

Join the conversation on social media using #MustSeeMovies.