News Column

TV and art films

July 28, 2013


July 28--For the week of Sunday, July 28, through Saturday, Aug. 3.

Reviewed by Tony Lucia.

Beware of Mr. Baker (2012). Readers of a certain age may recall with awe the name of Ginger Baker, best known as the drummer for the so-called supergroups Cream and Blind Faith, and wonder whatever happened to him following his stint as a rock god. This documentary is the answer, tracking Baker's various musical relationships; years in Europe and Africa, including time spent with the legendary Fela Kuti; and self-destructive behavior, through interviews with the man himself as well as the likes of Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Lydon, Carlos Santana, Lars Ulrich, Steve Winwood and Marky Ramone. Director Jay Bulger learns the truth of the title, which appears on a sign at Baker's South African compound, the hard way when Baker breaks his nose with his walking stick. 12:30 a.m. Tuesday on Showtime, and 8:10 p.m. today and 3:25 p.m. Wednesday on Showtime Showcase.

Five by Sirk. The great German-born director Douglas Sirk may have been underappreciated during his own lifetime, but in the decades since his death his stock has risen precipitously among the critical cognoscenti. And though he directed everything from comedies to Westerns, mysteries to propaganda films, he is remembered predominantly for the glossy, multilayered melodramas he made at Universal-International at the tail-end of his career. Those films make up the bulk of Turner Classic Movies' tribute Wednesday and early Thursday.

Two of these are remakes of a pair of well-regarded John M. Stahl pictures from the 1930s: "Magnificent Obsession" (1954; 8 p.m.) casts Rock Hudson as a playboy who changes his life after his actions bring tragedy to a local woman (Jane Wyman); and "Imitation of Life" (1959; 10 p.m.), which centers on a selfish actress (Lana Turner) and her black maid (Juanita Moore) and their relationships with their daughters. Some may find Sirk's treatment over the top, and indeed he does allow unfettered expression of the stories' emotional content; yet the corrosive subtext, often delineated through lighting and design, reveals deep compassion and psychological acuity. Questions of family also are central to "There's Always Tomorrow" (1956; 12:15 a.m. Thursday), with Fred MacMurray as a married manufacturer who runs into old flame Barbara Stanwyck, as well as his lost youth; and "Written on the Wind" (1957; 2 a.m. Thursday) a sweeping saga of unrequited desire, with Hudson starring alongside Robert Stack, Lauren Bacall and Oscar-winner Dorothy Malone. Finally there's "Shockproof" (1949; 4 a.m. Thursday), a film noir, from a script co-written by Samuel Fuller, about an illicit affair between an ex-con (Patricia Knight) and her parole officer (Cornel Wilde).

Contact Tony Lucia: 610-371-5046 or And visit his blog, "Tony Lucia's Movie House," at


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