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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Let's go to the movies

I had never heard of the 1971 film "The Mephisto Waltz" until I read a review of it online and then I watched it on HBO 91 or some other three-digit movie channel and BOY HOWDY is it something. Alan Alda (at the time a working actor and not yet sanctified as St. Hawkeye of the 4077th) is a music journalist who interviews way-creepy classical pianist Curt Jurgens who we can all see (except Alda, of course) has made a Dracula-style deal with The Bad Guy to live forever and be a world class pianist and Alda follows him down the twisted path BUT Alda's wife Jacqueline Bisset, who really loves the guy, sees what's happening and takes some steps of her own.

It has the brightly-lit ambience of a TV movie (it was the only theatrical film produced by TV producer Quinn Martin) and the production values, frankly, suck because if you ask me movies in the '70s were more about the ideas than the special effects but "The Mephisto Waltz" will haunt you long after you've forgotten the summer blockbuster with perfect special effects you saw last week at the 26-screen megaplex.

"The Mephisto Waltz" is playing at the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood on Wednesday as a tribute to director Paul Wendkos, who died last year, made more than 150 movies and TV shows and I never heard of him and maybe you haven't either.

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