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Janus Films

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When we were growing up, we watched a lot of Channel 13, aka WNET(Boomers may recall that proto-Boomer Billy Joel immortalized the Channel 13 generation in his song “Pressure”). WNET would often air the Janus Films Library, a collection of the essential art house films of Fellini, Kurosawa, Bergman, Renoir, Cocteau, Truffault and more. You see, we didn’t just spend all our time watching Godzilla and Planet of the Apes! These movies — Jules and Jim, La Strada, Grand Illusion, The Seventh Seal, Rashomon—are the essential films of the “cineaste” generation, a time before VHS and DVDs when foreign films were analyzed and admired and found their way to influence filmmakers like Woody Allen, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

This year is Janus Films’ 50th anniversary, and there will be all kinds of celebrations, including new prints of some of the greatest movies of all times and a $650 boxed dvd set of their most classic films (the money could not be better spent for a film lover.). Turner Classic Movies is celebrating Janus Films on Tuesdays in September, and last night we managed to catch Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, parts of Wild Strawberries and Fellini’s La Strada, which is perhaps our all-time favorite movie. (Of course, the fabulous Nino Rota score is part of the appeal.) Anyway, TCM is airing many more tremendous films this month, including Rashomon and Ivan the Terrible (which has a great score by Sergei Prokofiev.) If you’ve heard everyone going on about Eisenstein and Cocteau here’s a chance to see why. We particularly recommend Kurosawa’s YOJIMBO on September 19, the opening frame of which we just posted the other day, truly one of the greatest action films ever made, and as fresh today as ever.

9/12
8:00 PM Grand Illusion (1937)
French POWs fight to escape their German captors during World War I. Cast: Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim, Jean Gabin. Dir: Jean Renoir. BW-114 mins, TV-PG
10:00 PM Rules of the Game (1939)
A famed flier pursues a married woman during a weekend at her husband’s country estate. Cast: Nora Gregor, Jean Renoir, Marcel Dalio. Dir: Jean Renoir. BW-110 mins, TV-14
12:00 AM Ivan the Terrible (Part 2) (1946)
The Russian czar sinks to ever more bloodthirsty means of consolidating power. Cast: Nikolai Cherkasov, Serafima Birman, Pavel Kadochnikov. Dir: Sergei Eisenstein, M. Filimonova. BW-86 mins, TV-PG
1:30 AM Alexander Nevsky (1939)
A Russian prince leads his army against much stronger German invaders. Cast: Nikolai Cherkasov, Nikoli Okhlopkov, Andrei Abrikosov. Dir: Sergei Eisenstein, Dmitri Vasilyev. C-112 mins, TV-14

9/19

8:00 Rashomon (1950)
In medieval Japan, four people offer conflicting accounts of a rape and murder. Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-88 mins, TV-PG
9:30 PM Yojimbo (1961)
A samurai-for-hire sets the warring factions of a Japanese town against each other. Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Eijiro Tono, Seizaburo Kawazu. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. BW-110 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format
11:30 PM Ashes And Diamonds (1958)
On the last day of World War II, a Polish Resistance fighter is ordered to kill a Communist leader. Cast: Zbigniew Cybulski, Eva Krzyzewski, Waclaw Zastrzezynski. Dir: Andrzej Wajda. C-105 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format
1:30 AM Knife In The Water (1962)
A young businessman and a hitchhiker develop a deadly rivalry during a boating weekend. Cast: Leon Niemczyk, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz. Dir: Roman Polanski. BW-94 mins, TV-MA

9/26

Death of a Cyclist (1955)
C-0 mins, TV-PG
9:30 PM Viridiana (1961)
When she inherits a fortune, a young nun tries to help the poor. Cast: Silvia Pinal, Francisco Rabal, Fernando Rey. Dir: Luis Bunuel. BW-90 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format
11:15 PM Beauty And The Beast (1946)
A mysterious monster forces a young innocent to share his life in an enchanted castle. Cast: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Par?ly. Dir: Jean Cocteau. BW-93 mins, TV-G
1:00 AM Orpheus (1949)
A poet follows his dead wife into the underworld, only to fall in love with Death. Cast: Jean Marais, Francois Perier, Maria Casares. Dir: Jean Cocteau. BW-112 mins, TV-PG

  1. Is this happening on The Movie Channel (TMC) or on Turner Classic Movies (TCM)? You typed it both ways. I suppose if I wasn’t lazy I could go to the respective web sites and answer my own question ;)

  2. Wow, I’m so thrilled to hear others like La Strada as much as I do. Anytime you want to talk Italian films, then I’m your guy. I did a study abroad program for film in Italy last summer and worked with an Italian director that actually met Fellini before his passing. I still prefer La Dolce Vida, but to each his own.

  3. Please, please tell me the name of that haunting song playing in the background during the commercial for TCM’s celebration of Janus films 50th Anniversary!! The song was killer!!! I gotta know who did the song and how I can buy it! Please respond. My email is blusician1@gmail.com. Many thanks to anyone who replies! Blusician, Marshall Shain

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