Emmy winner Alec Baldwin only wishes he could be Matt Pylant. What the member of the Turner Classic Movies digital activation team lacks in acting trophies on his mantle, he surely makes up for in bragging rights.
Pylant is part of the month-long TCM employee guest programmer series featuring host Robert Osborne and 32 Turner staffers who each introduce a favorite influential film to viewers. On Monday night’s edition, Pylant selected the TCM premiere of Louis Malle‘s feature debut, 1958’s “Elevator to the Gallows.” Osborne openly admitted on camera he had never heard of the film (we can almost visualize Baldwin tuning in and going slack jawed, especially since he flies to Atlanta each year to host “The Essentials” with a filing cabinet full of notes designed to dazzle his co-host). To be fair, the Oscars historian knew the French film under its original English title, “Frantic,” but told us he never caught it during its very limited art house run more than half a century ago.
When the film noir/cusp of French New Wave cinematic concoction was given a theatrical re-release and a lavish DVD boxed set treatment in 2006, first-time viewer Pylant says he was mesmerized.
“To think this was Malle’s feature debut is amazing,” Pylant told us. “He captures a 1950s France that is just gorgeous. You want to move there. You also get to see a very young, beautiful Jeanne Moreau. And with that haunting, innovative Miles Davis score that Davis composed on the spot as Malle showed him reels of the film? The artistry leaps off the screen.”
For Osborne, the TCM employee guest programmer series that concludes tonight beginning at 8 with “All About Eve,” “Splendor in the Grass,” “The Story of GI Joe” and the TCM premiere of “The Last of Sheila,” is a great vehicle to show off the network’s cinema-loving staff to viewers.
“The viewers get to see how passionate these people are about classic film,” Osborne explains. “I used to work for The Movie Channel and to be perfectly honest, nobody there liked movies. Even the woman who ran the network knew so little about movies that when she saw a promo that had been made for an airing of “An American in Paris,” she said, ‘I like it but shouldn’t we use the scene where he’s got the umbrella and he’s singing in the rain?’ So it’s a real pleasure to work with people who know movies so well and know what they’re talking about.”