As the title suggests, this dramatised documentary about the eccentric Canadian pianist Glenn Gould is broken up into thirty-two short films (mirroring the thirty-two part structure of Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’, the recording that Gould made famous), each giving us an insight into some aspect of Gould’s life and career. Out of respect for the music lead actor Colm Feore is never seen playing the piano, merely reacting to Gould’s own recordings, which are extensively featured.
The Five Pennies (1959) Melville Shavelson, Danny Kaye, Barbara Bel Geddes, Louis Armstrong, Biography, Drama, Music
Loring “Red” Nichols is a cornet-playing country boy who goes to New York in the 1920s full of musical ambition and principles. He gets a job playing in Wil Paradise’s band, but quits to pursue his dream of playing Dixieland jazz. He forms the “Five Pennies” which features his wife, Bobbie, as vocalist. At the peak of his fame, Red and Bobbie’s daughter, Dorothy, develops polio. Red quits the music business to move to Los Angeles where the climate is better for Dorothy. As Dorothy becomes a young teen, she learns of her father’s musical past, and he is persuaded to open a small nightclub which is failing until some noted names from his past come to help out.
Now old, ill, poor, and largely forgotten, William Freise-Greene was once very different. As young and handsome William Green he changed his name to include his first wife’s so that it sounded more impressive for the photographic portrait work he was so good at. But he was also an inventor and his search for a way to project moving pictures became an obsession that ultimately changed the life of all those he loved.
Napló apámnak, anyámnak / Diary for My Parents (1990) Márta Mészáros, Zsuzsa Czinkóczi, Jan Nowicki, Mari Töröcsik, Biography, Drama
The story follows a young student who is orphaned as it grows to adulthood, in the shadow of the Hungarian uprising of 1956. Coming from the communist intelligentsia, looks like your friends and family react differently. His lover, a married factory manager, supports the patriots and later attends striking colleagues. Meanwhile, her sister and others express their anger at being forced from their homes during the Revolution and continue expressing hatred of the rebels later. But in the end they realize the damage is for all, real life is not possible after revolt and brutal repression by the Soviets and colleagues.
The Seven Little Foys (1955) Melville Shavelson, Bob Hope, Milly Vitale, George Tobias, Biography, Comedy, Drama
Vaudeville entertainer Eddie Foy, who has vowed to forever keep his act a solo, falls in love with and marries Italian ballerina Madeleine. While they continue to tour the circuit, they begin a family and before long have seven little Foys to clutter the wings. After tragedy threatens to stall Eddie’s career, he comes to realize that his little terrors are worth their weight in gold.
One Foot in Heaven (1941) Irving Rapper, Fredric March, Martha Scott, Beulah Bondi, Biography, Drama
The James Dean Story (1957) Robert Altman, George W. George, Martin Gabel, James Dean, Lew Bracker, Documentary, Biography
This documentary, which was undertaken soon after James Dean’s death, looks at Dean’s life through the use of still photographs with narration, and interviews with many of the people involved in his short life. Interviewees include the aunt and uncle who raised him after his mother’s death (when James was 9), his fraternal grandparents, a cabdriver friend in New York City, and the owner of his favorite restaurant in Los Angeles. James’s father, who was alive when the film was made, does not get a single mention.
The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955) Richard Fleischer, Ray Milland, Joan Collins, Farley Granger, Biography, Crime, Drama
The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing is the true story of Evelyn Nesbit Shaw, a beautiful showgirl caught in a love triangle with elderly architect Stanford White and eccentric young millionaire Harry K. Thaw.
Million Dollar Mermaid (1952) Mervyn LeRoy, Esther Williams, Victor Mature, Walter Pidgeon, Biography, Drama, Musical
Million Dollar Mermaid tells the story of Australian swimming sensation Annette Kellerman, who overcame childhood polio to go on and achieve fame as a professional swimmer and film star in the early decades of the 20th century. At the same time, she scandalized the world by wearing a one-piece bathing suit on public beaches long before the style was accepted in polite company, and made waves in other ways as well. The story was a perfect vehicle decades later to showcase the star quality of Esther Williams in the 1950s, and Kellerman’s moniker was picked up by Life Magazine when it named Ms. Williams the “Million Dollar Mermaid” herself.
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985) Paul Schrader, Ken Ogata, Masayuki Shionoya, Hiroshi Mikami, Biography, Drama
A fictionalized account in four segments of the life of Japan’s celebrated twentieth-century author Yukio Mishima. Three of the segments parallel events in Mishima’s life with his novels (The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji), Kyoko’s House, and Runaway Horses), while the fourth depicts 25 November 1970, “The Last Day”…