Alec Baldwin talks 'essential' film, TCM special
By April MacIntyre Feb 19, 2009, 15:55 GMT
Emmy Award winner Tina Fey (NBC\'s "Saturday Night Live," "Mean Girls") writes, executive-produces and stars as Liz Lemon in NBC\'s "30 Rock," a workplace comedy where the workplace exists behind-the-scenes of a live variety show. The show is told through the comedic voice of Fey and features Alec Baldwin ("The Aviator," "The Cooler" ) as Jack Donaghy, the brash new network executive who has turned the show upside down with ...more
Beginning with the 1935 Marx Brothers classic "A Night at the Opera", airing Saturday, March 7, Alec Baldwin will join TCM host Robert Osborne in introducing “must see” movies each week, with an eye toward helping viewers better understand why these films are important and the impact they had on audiences and the culture at large.
(Baldwin has previously appeared on TCM as part of the network’s Guest Programmer series. In 2008, he hosted the TCM special Role Model: Gene Wilder, in which he sat down with the comic actor for an intimate conversation about Wilder’s life and career.)
Alec Baldwin is one of Hollywood’s most prolific actors. He is currently starring with Tina Fey in the NBC hit comedy series "30 Rock," which has earned him an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Television Critics Association Award.
In films, Baldwin has consistently won critical acclaim, whether it was his early work as Frank "The Cucumber" DeMarco in the 1988 Jonathan Demme film, "Married to the Mob", or the recent performance in Martin Scorsese’s" The Departed." It was his stunning performance as Shelley Kaplow in "The Cooler" that turned heads, earning him the 2004 Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
Other film credits include the newly dead newlywed in "Beetlejuice," "The Good Shepherd," "The Hunt for Red October", "Miami Blues," "Prelude to a Kiss", "Malice," "The Shadow", "Glengarry Glen Ross", "Ghosts of Mississippi", "The Edge," and "Pearl Harbor."
He will next star in "Lymelife," a bittersweet coming-of-age tale set in the seventies opposite Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton, Cynthia Nixon and Rory Culkin.
Among his many stage credits, Baldwin won acclaim and a Tony® nomination for his work opposite Jessica Lange in A Streetcar Named Desire, which also garnered him an Emmy nomination for the television adaptation. His other Broadway credits include Entertaining Mr. Sloane, The Twentieth Century and Serious Money. He won an Obie Award for his work in the off-Broadway production of Prelude to a Kiss and a Theatre World Award for his turn in Loot.
Baldwin’s production company, El Dorado Pictures, co-produced TNT’s Emmy-nominated miniseries "Nuremberg" and the feature film "State and Main." He has also just released a book, A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey through Fatherhood and Divorce.
Baldwin will serve as cohost of TCM’s "The Essentals" showcase, which have also included filmmakers Rob Reiner, Peter Bogdanovich and Sydney Pollack.
The Ninth Season of TCM'S "The Essentials" hosted by Alec Baldwin and Robert Osborne premieres Saturday March 7th AT 8PM, with "A Night at the Opera."
Robert Osborne took over hosting duties in 2005, paired with film critic and author Molly Haskell. He was joined by actress and bestselling author Carrie Fisher in 2007 and actress Rose McGowan in 2008.
Turner Classic Movies presents great films uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film library in the world.
Alec Baldwin answered some questions about filmmaking.
What makes a film essential?
Alec Baldwin: Essential films involve essential contributors on all levels ─ cinematographers, writers, directors and stars are important, but so are editors and set design. Great films are made by contributions from many hands.
Why should audiences watch classic films?
Alec Baldwin: I think it’s an act of self-robbery to watch a film without a sense of where it came from over the years. So much is derivative or based on what was done before. The more classic film you watch, the more you’ll appreciate all the films you watch.
How do your opinions of what’s essential differ from Robert Osborne’s?
Alec Baldwin: Feelings about films are born from where you were when you first saw a film. There are some films that are indelible to me because on a rainy, miserable afternoon sick with the flu in 7th grade, it brightened my day. Film, like music, has a tonic effect on you. He has films that he responds to in his own way, and I have mine. It’s just opinion; there are no facts.
What is one of your favorite childhood memories of watching movies?
Alec Baldwin: When I was a child, to go to the movies was a huge thing. We would sneak into The Godfather. The most essential part of childhood was having a friend as an usher at a movie theater that could pop the door open and let you in.
What do you love about TCM?
Alec Baldwin: TCM is the only [classic movie channel] that stayed true to its mission. They show such a wealth of films from so many decades. Sometimes I turn on TCM and say, “Where the heck did they find this movie?” There are some really obscure things; and then there are classic, great films, or essentials, if you will. And the other thing is Osborne. I’m an enormous fan of his.
The following is a complete schedule of the films Baldwin and Osborne will present for the showcase’s ninth season:
March 7 – A Night at the Opera (1935)
March 14 – Rocky (1976)
March 21 – Cat Ballou (1965)
March 28 – Ben-Hur (1959)
April 4 – Take the Money and Run (1969)
April 11 – Saboteur (1942)
April 18 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
April 25 – Funny Girl (1968)
May 2 – I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
May 9 – Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
May 16 – The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
May 23 – Battleground (1949)
May 30 – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
June 6 – The Letter (1940)
June 13 – The Fortune Cookie (1966)
June 20 – Random Harvest (1942)
June 27 – Notorious (1946)
July 4 – The Mouse that Roared (1959)
July 11 – Tom Jones (1963)
July 18 – A Night at the Opera (1935)
July 25 – Rocky (1976)
Aug. 1 – The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
Aug. 8 – An Affair to Remember (1957)
Aug. 15 – The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Aug. 22 – Lolita (1962)
Aug. 29 – The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Sept. 5 – The Long Hot Summer (1958)
Sept. 12 – Wuthering Heights (1939)
Sept. 19 – Ben-Hur (1959)
Sept. 26 – Saboteur (1942)
Oct. 3 – Funny Girl (1968)
Oct. 10 – I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
Oct. 17 – Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Oct. 24 – The Letter (1940)
Oct. 31 – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Nov. 7 – Take the Money and Run (1969)
Nov. 14 – The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Nov. 21 – Tom Jones (1963)
Nov. 28 – The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
Dec. 5 – Random Harvest (1942)
Dec. 12 – The Mouse that Roared (1959)
Dec. 19 – The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
Dec. 26 – The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Jan. 2 – Lolita (1962)
Jan. 9 – Notorious (1946)
Jan. 16 – Battleground (1949)
Jan. 23 – The Guns of Navarone (1961)
Jan. 30 – Wuthering Heights (1939)
From TCM: Fun Facts about the Movies
Saturdays at 8 p.m. (ET)
MARCH 7 A Night at the Opera (1935)
This was the first film that the Marx Bros. made without their brother Zeppo. In addition, this is the first time Harpo did not wear his trademark red wig on screen.
MARCH 14 Rocky (1976)
Inspired by the 1975 championship fight between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Weber, Sylvester Stallone wrote the Rocky screenplay. It was the second highest-grossing film of 1977, behind Star Wars. Robert Redford, James Caan and Burt Reynolds were considered for the role of “Rocky,” but Stallone refused to sell the rights to the film unless he was the lead. Bette Midler was offered the role of “Adrian” but turned it down.
MARCH 21 Cat Ballou (1965)
Based on the novel The Ballad of Cat Ballou by Roy Chanslor. Lee Marvin won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of “Shaleen,” a role turned down by Kirk Douglas.
MARCH 28 Ben-Hur (1959)
The chariot race took 10 weeks to shoot and runs just under 10 minutes in the final film.
APRIL 4 Take the Money and Run (1969)
Real prisoners were used during filming at San Quentin Prison in California.
APRIL 11 Saboteur (1942)
Alfred Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper for the role of “Barry Kane” and Harry Carey for the role of “Charles Tobin.” Cooper was unavailable and Carey turned down the role because his wife did not want him to play a Nazi.
APRIL 18 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The working title for this film was The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy. The name changes once Paul Newman was cast. A stuntman was hired to do bicycle tricks, but Newman did them himself. William Goldman’s main interest in writing the script was the fact that Butch Cassidy never used a gun or violence during his crimes until he lived in Bolivia, a fact mentioned within the film.
APRIL 25 Funny Girl (1968)
This was Barbra Streisand’s feature film debut, reprising her role as “Fanny Brice” from the Broadway play. She went on to win the Oscar for Best Actress.
MAY 2 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
The electricity went out immediately following Paul Muni saying his final line, “I steal.” It looked so good on film it was not reshot. The chain gang system was abolished in 1937.
MAY 9 Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
Clark Gable almost didn’t take the part because he did not want to shave his mustache.
MAY 16 The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
Thomas Mitchell was originally cast as Daniel Webster. He was thrown from a horse during production, resulting in a fractured skull, and was eventually replaced by Edward Arnold.
MAY 23 Battleground (1950)
Producer Dore Schary developed a system of dubbing and cutting during production, which allowed edited scenes to be viewed within 48 hours. As a result, he delivered the film 20 days early.
MAY 30 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
At the persuasion of Ingrid Bergman, originally cast as “Beatrix,” she and Lana Turner switched roles, allowing Bergman to play “Ivy” instead.
JUNE 6 The Letter (1940)
The film’s ending was changed from the original play because the Production Code refused to let the main character get away with murder.
JUNE 13 The Fortune Cookie (1966)
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are paired for the first time in this film.
JUNE 20 Random Harvest (1942)
Based on James Hilton’s novel, with a title based on a German Official Report that read “Bombs Fell at Random.” The film was originally set to film in England but, following U.S. involvement in World War II, the film was moved to the back lot of MGM in California.
JUNE 27 Notorious (1946)
Months before the atomic bomb was tested for the first time, the uranium plot was added to the story line. As a result, the FBI put director Alfred Hitchcock under surveillance.
JULY 4 The Mouse that Roared (1959)
The film opens with Columbia’s trademark of their version of the Statue of Liberty jumping off her pedestal when she gets scared by a mouse. At the end of the film, she climbs back onto her pedestal with the words “The End. We Hope.”
JULY 11 Tom Jones (1963)
This is the only film in history to have three Oscar nominees up for Best Supporting Actress.
JULY 18 A Night at the Opera (1935)
This was the first of the Marx Bros. films made at MGM.
JULY 25 Rocky (1976)
Garrett Brown, special effects specialist for Rocky, was one of the first to use the Steadicam on a feature-length film. Brown was later granted a patent for the process.
AUG.1 The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
Rumors are the character of “Sheridan Whiteside” was based on writer Alexander Woollcott; “Banjo” was based on actor Harpo Marx; “Beverly” on playwright Noel Coward; and “Lorraine” on Broadway actress Gertrude Lawrence.
AUG. 8 An Affair to Remember (1957)
This film is a remake of the 1939 film Love Affair, starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. Writer Donald Odgen Stewart worked on both the 1939 original and An Affair to Remember, though he was blacklisted at the time of the remake and did not receive credit.
AUG. 15 The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
This film was the first motion picture to realistically show the crime world through the eyes of the criminal.
AUG. 22 Lolita (1962)
Sue Lyon, who starred as 14-year old “Lolita,” was not allowed to see the final film because she was under age.
AUG. 29 The Guns of Navarone (1961)
This is the only David Niven film in which he is seen smoking on screen.
SEPT. 5 The Long, Hot Summer (1958)
Orson Welles’s makeup took three hours to apply each day. This is also the first film that paired Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward together. They were married just after the film wrapped.
SEPT. 12 Wuthering Heights (1939)
Laurence Olivier, who was going through a divorce at the time, wanted his girlfriend to be cast in the role of “Cathy.” The studio refused. She was eventually cast in Gone With the Wind, and thus the career of Vivien Leigh was launched.
SEPT. 19 Ben-Hur (1959)
Producer Sam Zimbalist died during production from a heart attack. Contrary to rumors, this was the only death during filming.
SEPT. 26 Saboteur (1942)
Alfred Hitchcock makes his trademark cameo in the film as a man standing in front of a drugstore.
OCT. 3 Funny Girl (1968)
Frank Sinatra was up for the role of Nicky Arnstein but lost the part because Barbra Streisand did not approve him.
OCT. 10 I Am a fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
Many believe the story takes place in Georgia, but the actual location goes unnamed in the film.
OCT. 17 Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
The real Captain Bligh was eventually exonerated.
OCT. 24 The Letter (1940)
William Wyler made his TV directing debut with a live production broadcast of The Letter in 1956, 16 years after directing Bette Davis in this film version.
OCT. 31 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
The film is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The characters “Ivy” and “Beatrix” were created for the film and do not exist in the book.
NOV. 7 Take the Money and Run (1969)
This is the first Woody Allen film in which he served as writer, director and star.
NOV. 14 The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Based on John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, the film stayed true to the book, with the exception of the ending. The speech of “Ma Joad” ends the film on a lighter note but, in the book, the speech occurs earlier.
NOV. 21 Tom Jones (1963)
This movie marks Lynn Redgrave’s feature film debut.
NOV. 28 The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
The blizzard scene was comprised of shredded onions, mothballs and uncooked tapioca.
DEC. 5 Random Harvest (1942)
Susan Peters was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as “Kitty,” a character not found in the novel. This film was one of MGM’s biggest grossing hits of the decade.
DEC. 12 The Mouse that Roared (1959)
Life magazine called the unknown Peter Sellers “the funniest actor England has sent to America since Alec Guinness.”
DEC. 19 The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)
Charles Coburn was wanted for the part, but he refused to do a screen test. Mary Wickes and Russell Arms make their feature film debuts in this movie.
DEC. 26 The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
MGM was made to rewrite the suicide scene of “Emmerich” from an intentional act to one of indecision.
JAN. 2 Lolita (1962)
This was Stanley Kubrick’s first independently produced film in England.
JAN. 9 Notorious (1946)
This was the first American film where Alfred Hitchcock served as both producer and director. Although not credited, Hitchcock also co-wrote the screenplay with Ben Hecht. Hitchcock appears in the final scene drinking a glass of champagne at Alicia’s party.
JAN. 16 Battleground (1950)
The film is loosely based on actual events that happened during World War II’s Battle of The Bulge. The technical advisor, Lt. Col Harry W. O. Kinnard, was an intelligence officer during the battle.
JAN. 23 The Guns of Navarone (1961)
William Holden asked for a percentage of the film in order to play the role of “Capt. Keith Mallory.” As a result, the studio cast Gregory Peck.
JAN. 30 Wuthering Heights (1939)
Producer Samuel Goldwyn and director William Wyler clashed on the movie’s ending. Not liking that the characters “Heathcliff” and “Cathy” die in the end, Goldwyn made Wyler add the final scene of their spirits’ rise towards heaven.