Reckless Review: UN FLIC

Every year, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) throws a few surprises into their Summer Under The Stars (SUTS) programming. As you may know, SUTS means each day in August is dedicated to the films of a single brilliant star. Along with actors you might expect, such as Humphrey Bogart (Aug. 1) and Bette Davis (Aug. 14), TCM always includes a few surprising choices. For instance, I don’t know of any other cable channel that would run nearly 24 hours of silent films, but that’s exactly what happened on Ramon Novarro‘s day (August 8). If you missed Ben-Hur (1925) starring Novarro and Francis X. Bushman, you really should check it out.

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The other somewhat unconventional and totally welcome choice in the SUTS mix this year is Catherine Deneuve (Monday, August 12). As I said on Jean Gabin day in 2011…big ups to TCM for running 24 hours of subtitles. (Actually, there is one English-language Deneuve film, The Hunger, showing at 4:15 a.m. on Tuesday, August 13. But still…it’s not something you see every day.)

Of Monday’s films, I highly recommend Un flic (1972). It’s showing at noon on Monday and stars Deneuve, Alain Delon and Richard Crenna, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.

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Un flic is French for “a cop;” the film’s American title is less ambiguous: Dirty Money. Delon plays the title role, a brutal, not-so-clean police commissioner, who suspects that his friend, a nightclub owner (Crenna), is behind a series of bank robberies and drug deals. Cathy (Deneuve) is caught between them, sleeping with both and keeping both their secrets. Her model beauty and perfectly coiffed hair belie the anxiety in her nervous gestures and darting eyes. It’s a small part but a memorable one.

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Melville is one of my favorite directors, he does crime pictures as well as anyone. His newsreel-style, on-location filmmaking was influential on Jean-Luc Godard (whose use of jump cuts was inspired by Melville). This was Melville’s last film, and like my favorite Le samouraï, Un flic may as well have been shot in the black and white of a film noir…cold desaturated colors, dark rooms, inky shadows. Thematically it’s as melancholy as any noir, and the line between the lawman and the criminal is as hazy as dusk in the Paris of Melville’s creation…this isn’t Woody Allen’s City of Lights. Part of it is unbelievable (you’ll know it when you see it), and I’m pretty sure Crenna was dubbed, but these are minor details in a suspenseful and enjoyable neo-noir.

UPDATE: No worries if you missed this on Deneuve day and you have Netflix. I searched the site on the off chance they would have Un flic on DVD, and lo and behold, not only do they have it, it’s also streaming. C’est super!

TCM Week – July 30-August 5

Interesting week on TCM. Leslie Howard month wraps up and Summer Under The Stars kicks off with two of my favorites, John Wayne and Myrna Loy. As always, all times are Eastern.

Monday, July 30
9:30 p.m. Island in the Sky (1953)
***TCM PARTY***
Captain Dooley (John Wayne) is the pilot of a plane that crashes “so far north that the area is barely on the map.” He’s in charge of the stranded crew, which has very limited provisions, only a wood fire for heat and barely any juice for the radio signal. Can the Duke keep everyone alive until they’re rescued? Look for us on Twitter with #TCMParty…watch and tweet along with our guest hosts @biscuitkitten and @ScribeHard.

Tuesday, July 31
Star of the Month: Leslie Howard
8:00 p.m. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1935)
This is one of my favorite Leslie Howard films ever. In the 1790s, an apparently shallow British nobleman, Sir Percy Blakeney (Howard), defies the evil French revolutionary Chauvelin (Raymond Massey) by spiriting his fellow aristocrats away from the guillotine and out of France. Also starring the beautiful Merle Oberon as Lady Marguerite Blakeney and luxuriously produced by Alexander Korda, this is perhaps not the most realistic film ever made about the French Revolution, but it may be the most fun.

Beginning early Wednesday at 1:30 a.m., TCM has booked three mystery films starring Joan Blondell: There’s Always a Woman (1938), co-starring Melvyn Douglas and Mary Astor; The Famous Ferguson Case (1932), directed by Lloyd Bacon; and Miss Pinkerton (1932), with George Brent. I haven’t seen any of these, but Blondell’s sassy presence is enough to get me to set the DVR.

Wednesday, August 1
John Wayne
Summer Under The Stars kicks off today. It’s difficult to go wrong with anything on the schedule…seriously…it’s John Wayne. If you need to start somewhere, and can only DVR one movie today, I recommend Stagecoach (1939), The Searchers (1956) or Rio Bravo (1959).

1933: (Left to right) Hollywood stars Myrna Loy (1905 – 1993), Ramon Novarro (1899 – 1968) and Louise Closser Hale relax in the sun during takes for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production THE BARBARIAN. (Photo by Margaret Chute) via doctormacro.com

Thursday, August 2
Myrna Loy
Loy is another favorite of mine who is mostly known today as Nora Charles in The Thin Man series, but she made around 80 films before she became a star in 1934 with the first of those films. So the films she made before that are lesser-known. There’s five of them this morning beginning with The Great Divide (1929) at 6:00 a.m. and including The Naughty Flirt (1931), The Barbarian (1933), When Ladies Meet (1933), and The Prizefighter and the Lady (1933). Then tonight at 8:00 p.m., Loy has a supporting but pivotal role in William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives, one of the best movies ever made. It’s also our ***TCM PARTY*** for tonight. Look for us on Twitter with #TCMParty…watch and tweet along!

Friday, August 3
Johnny Weissmuller
What can I say, a lot of people dig Tarzan pictures. Maybe I’ll check some of them out.

Saturday, August 4
Marilyn Monroe
The film I haven’t seen today is Clash By Night (1952) and it’s got an interesting director and cast. Directed by Fritz Lang, it stars Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan and Monroe. I’m expecting something in noir, seeing as Lang directed M, The Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street, The Big Heat, etc.

Sunday, August 5
Claude Rains
You can’t really go wrong with anything today either. I say that a lot. If I’m forced to pick, I’ll go with The Invisible Man (1933) and Mr. Skeffington (1944). Did you know that in addition to being a great actor, Rains was an acting teacher? Two of his most famous students were Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud.

TCM Week – July 16-22

TCM has some really intriguing stuff scheduled for this week. Crank up the DVR and let’s go…as usual, all times are Eastern.

Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in GUNGA DIN

Monday, July 16
TCM’s Classic Adventure series continues with a full 24 hours of rip-roaring action. Must-sees include The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) with Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland at 2:00 Eastern; Gunga Din (1939) starring Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Victor McLaglen at 4:00 p.m.; and The Thief of Baghdad (1924) with Douglas Fairbanks and Anna May Wong at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Joan Crawford in OUR MODERN MAIDENS

Tuesday, July 17
Today kicks off with a couple of silents, The Sheik (1921) starring Rudolph Valentino, and Our Modern Maidens (1929) with soon-to-be newlyweds Joan Crawford and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. The latter is the first of a block of eight ’20s and ’30s films directed by Jack Conway. Conway began as an actor in D. W. Griffiths’ Westerns and moved into directing, first at Universal, then at MGM, where he proved to be adept and prolific. He worked cost-effectively in all genres, bringing pictures in on time and within budget, a capability that endeared him to studio honchos Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer. He is probably best known for A Tale of Two Cities (1935), starring Ronald Colman and Elizabeth Allan, and one of my all-time favorites, Libeled Lady (1936). Enjoy his work until George Cukor takes over at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

Star of the Month: Leslie Howard
I am a huge fan of Leslie Howard, but even I have to admit he was horribly miscast in Romeo and Juliet (1936), scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Though the film is gorgeous, Howard, in his forties, and his Juliet, Norma Shearer, in her mid-thirties, are both too old to portray a teenaged couple caught up in their first love. (Shakespearean scholars estimate that a real Romeo would have been 16 or 17 years of age and it’s directly mentioned in the text that Juliet has just turned 13.) But the rest of Howard’s films tonight — A Free Soul and Smilin’ Through, both also with Shearer, and Outward Bound (Howard’s Hollywood debut) and Captured! both with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. — look pretty interesting.

Wednesday, July 18
Tonight’s block of early Francis Ford Coppola work includes You’re A Big Boy Now at 8:00 p.m., The Rain People at 10:00 p.m., Dementia 13 at 12:00 a.m. Thursday, and Finian’s Rainbow at 1:30 a.m. I wouldn’t recommend Finian’s but I’m keeping an open mind about the rest.

Thursday, July 19
Apparently today’s films have a theme: jail. Whether it’s women behind bars (Caged, House of Women (1962)), escape (House of Numbers) or riot (Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison), TCM has every kind of filmic incarceration one could want during the daytime hours. I’ll be sure to record Ladies They Talk About, which stars Barbara Stanwyck as a gangster’s moll sent up for her role in a bank robbery.

At 8:00 p.m., TCM is featuring The Science of Movie Making, a block co-hosted by sound designer Ben Burtt and visual effects supervisor Craig Barron, both Oscar-winners in their fields, who have chosen films that have inspired them.

Friday, July 20
Stanwyck Pre-codes
***TCM PARTY***
Presumably in honor of Ms. Stanwyck’s 105th birthday (July 16), TCM has scheduled four films she made before enforcement of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Production Code (aka Hays Code) began in 1934. The pre-codes include Shopworn (1932), Ten Cents A Dance (1931), Illicit (1931) and Forbidden (1932). Look for us on Twitter…watch and tweet along with #TCMParty.

Saturday, July 21
To Have and Have Not (1944)
***TCM PARTY***
In Martinique during World War II, a fishing-boat captain (Humphrey Bogart) gets mixed up with the French Resistance and a beautiful saloon singer (Lauren Bacall). This was Bacall’s first film and she was such a natural that screenwriter William Faulkner started adding to her part. The critics said it had “much more character than story” and that it was “confusing and klutzy, the ending is weak, and the secondary characters are poor substitutes for Casablanca‘s (1942) memorable cast of heroes and villains” but I think it’s great. Look for us on Twitter…watch and tweet along with #TCMParty. Guest hosted by @joelrwilliams1.

http://youtu.be/90IxpYZjCOE

Sunday, July 22
If you haven’t seen Christmas in July (1940) at 10:30 a.m., Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) at 2:00 p.m., or The Great Escape (1963) at 8:00 p.m., definitely tune in for those. There’s a silent at 12:30 a.m. Monday, The Mating Call, and at 2:00 a.m. there’s The Leopard (Il gattopardo – 1963), starring Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon. Set in the early 1860s during the turmoil that preceded Italy’s unification, the film follows the slow fall of aristocratic Prince Fabrizio (Lancaster) and the parallel rise of upstart Tancredi (Delon). This film has lavish detail, gorgeously shot, and is unfortunately dubbed (you can’t have everything). It’s also a very poignant film, infused with a sense of nostalgia for a lost time and the inevitability of one generation letting another take over.

TCM Week – July 2-8

It’s always so weird when July 4 falls in the middle of the week and TCM runs some of the best movies in the middle of the night. I shouldn’t complain though, Leslie Howard is the Star of the Month. As always, all times are Eastern.

Tuesday, July 3
8:00 p.m. Gone the with Wind (1939)
***TCM PARTY***
During the daytime hours, TCM has 12 hours of Ann Rutherford’s movies scheduled. She very sadly passed away on June 11. Rutherford is probably best known as Carreen O’Hara, Scarlett’s nice sister, in GWTW but I also liked her as Lydia Bennett in Pride and Prejudice (1940), showing today at 10:45 a.m. I’m definitely going to record Two O’Clock Courage (1945), an early Anthony Mann film, starring Rutherford and Tom Conway (brother of today’s birthday boy George Sanders). Rutherford appeared at the TCM Classic Film Festival in 2011 Look for us on Twitter with #TCMParty…watch & tweet along.

Lester Plum (Joan Blondell) tries to educate Atterbury Dodd (Leslie Howard) about the picture business.

midnight Stand-In (1937)
Star of the Month Leslie Howard plays an uptight banker sent to overhaul a Hollywood studio; Joan Blondell is the title character, a sassy former child star, who decides to help him, if he’ll only let her; Humphrey Bogart is the beleaguered producer burdened with a dud film, a histrionic leading lady, and a drinking problem. This has been one of my favorite movies since I saw it last year and my friend Classic Film Freak was kind enough to post my review.

Wednesday, July 4
Patriotic movies are scheduled all day today and two of the most interesting are The Scarlet Coat (1955), about the beginnings of the U.S. Secret Service at 9:15 a.m. and The Devil’s Disciple (1959). You really can’t go wrong with Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) either.

Thursday, July 5
7:00 a.m. Evelyn Prentice (1934)
This is an interesting pairing of William Powell and Myrna Loy outside of the Thin Man series. He plays a lawyer whose wife (Loy) hasn’t really done anything to deserve being blackmailed. The film was rushed into production after the huge success of The Thin Man to capitalize on their chemistry. It’s so good you sort of won’t believe it when they’re supposed to not be getting along.

5:45 p.m. Penelope (1966)
I haven’t seen this movie. I recorded it last year before we changed cable companies, it was one of the movies that was on the DVR and there was no way to transfer it. But Natalie Wood and Peter Falk are in it, so I’m going to record it again.

This sounds a lot more foreboding in French.

8:00 p.m. Ace in the Hole (1951)
***TCM PARTY***
In the first of guest programmer Spike Lee‘s picks for tonight, a reporter who’s been demoted to a small-town newspaper tries to leverage a catastrophe into a return to the big time. Watch and tweet alone with our special guest host @WillMcKinley.

Friday, July 6
Certainly if you haven’t seen The Manchurian Candidate (1962) at 3:45 p.m. or Bye Bye Birdie (1963) at 6:00 p.m., check those out. I’ll be trying to catch at least one Jimmy Stewart Western of the three that are scheduled: The Man from Laramie (1955) at 8 p.m., The Naked Spur (1953) at 10 p.m. and Two Rode Together (1961) at midnight.

Saturday, July 7
6:00 a.m. Seven Women (1966)
Anne Bancroft, Sue Lyon, Margaret Leighton, and Flora Robson play missionaries in John Ford’s final feature.

4:15 p.m. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the war room.”

Sunday, July 8
It’s really difficult to go wrong today. My favorite favorites:
2:15 p.m. The Thin Man (1934)
Sometimes well enough really should be left alone. See above. Celebrate that this isn’t going to be remade by watching the original and best.

6:00 p.m. My Favorite Year (1982)
A 1940s radio show writer (Mark Linn-Baker) struggles to keep playboy thespian Alan Swann (Peter O’Toole doing his best Errol Flynn) sober and upright, at least until the latter can guest star on that week’s show.

midnight Bande à part (1964)
Two thugs and a girl attempt to rob her aunt’s house with complications to be expected from a director, Jean-Luc Godard, whose biggest influences are the bright and dark sides of Hollywood — musicals and film noir.

 

TCM Week – June 4-10

Not that anyone noticed that I stopped doing my weekly TCM picks, but there’s a very simple reason. My subscription to Now Playing, the TCM monthly magazine, ran out and I forgot to renew. Evidently I’m quite reliant on it because I missed two months of it and it’s too difficult to do picks without it. Everything is back to normal this month. Just so you know 🙂

Apparently Bette Davis (as Queen Elizabeth I) slapped Errol Flynn (as the Earl of Essex) so hard during the filming of Elizabeth and Essex that he saw stars.

Monday, June 4
8:00 p.m. The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)
***TCM PARTY***
Possibly in honor of Elizabeth II’s real-life Diamond Jubilee, TCM has two Elizabeth I-related films tonight, the #TCMParty Private Lives at 8:00 and The Virgin Queen (1955) following at 10:00, both with Bette Davis as Britain’s best-loved monarch. (I just conducted a scientific poll via Google search and she is the one royal about whom people have the least bad things to say.) Watching her run a country while trying to keep the Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn) and Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd) in line is quite a treat. Apparently Davis and Flynn were no more well-matched than their characters and feuded during filming to the point of physically injuring each other. Despite this, or because of it, this is a great period drama, with beautiful costumes, sets and lighting. Watch for Herbert Marshall and Joan Collins in Virgin Queen. Watch and tweet along with #TCMParty.

There’s a couple other people in the picture but whatever.

Tuesday, June 5
12:45 a.m. (Weds) Union Depot (1932)
A rather racy-sounding pre-code picture chosen for the presence of Joan Blondell and the fact that it takes place in real time, 20+ years before High Noon.

Looks like Orson Welles borrowed heavily from Peter Lorre’s look in Mad Love for the older Charles Foster Kane.

Wednesday, June 6
TCM has scheduled a bunch of 1930s horror films for daytime, several of which —Island of Lost Souls, Mark of the Vampire, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) — have the gorgeous Expressionistic cinematography I love so. I’ve chosen two I’ve not yet seen. Doctor X (1932) at 7:45 a.m. was directed by the versatile Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) and is sung about in “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” the first number in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Mad Love (1935) at 3:30 p.m. shares a cinematographer, Gregg Toland, and some details with Citizen Kane. This film is one of several based on the novel Les Mains d’Orlac and it will be interesting to compare to The Hands of Orlac (1924), which starred Conrad Veidt as the recipient of the titular evil hands.

Thursday, June 7
8:00 p.m. Jailhouse Rock (1957)
***TCM PARTY***
This is one of the best Elvis Presley movies, along with Loving You and Viva Las Vegas. Unfortunately, it’s also his only his third movie, and he made quite a few more. However, nobody delivers a classic line such as “That ain’t cheap tactics, honey. That’s just the beast in me” better than Elvis. With special #TCMParty guest host @CitizenScreen.Watch and tweet along

Friday, June 8
TCM has scheduled an unofficial block to honor Alexis Smith on her birthday. Born in 1921, this Canadian actress, though not as well-known today as some of her contemporaries, had a career in movies, stage and TV for more than 50 years.
7:45 a.m. Dive Bomber (1941)
Smith had uncredited roles in 12 films before landing this, her first credited role, opposite Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray as the girl who comes between them in a WWII drama made just before the U.S. entered the war. (Her last film role was in Age of Innocence (1993)).

9:30 a.m. The Constant Nymph (1943)
I won’t even front like I like this movie. I find it very odd and at times ridiculous. Joan Fontaine is supposed to be a teenager who separates her composer cousin (Charles Boyer) from his wife (Smith). (Seriously, am I the only one who thinks this is weird?) By the end of the film, I felt they deserved each other. But I’m going to watch it again just for Smith, as I’ve read this was her breakthrough role which led to her parts in Night and Day (1946) and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947).

There’s a great summary of today’s TCM Gothic offerings here, courtesy of Classic Movies Examiner Jennifer Garlen.

Saturday, June 9
5:30 p.m. The Train (1965)
***TCM PARTY***
In the waning days of World War II, a French railway inspector who is also a member of the Resistance (Burt Lancaster…just go with it) is ordered by the Nazi-in-charge (Paul Scofield) to get a train through to Germany no matter what. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, except that nearly every important piece of art left in France is on that train. Directed by John Frankenheimer, this excellent film is an unpredictable chess match that’s as near to an anti-war statement as you’ll get in a WWII picture. Look for us on Twitter with #TCMParty.

Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck, and someone in a sombrero

midnight The Mad Miss Manton (1938)
The Lady Eve co-stars Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda made this lesser-known comedy three years before Eve. Let’s see…great chemistry in a comedy/mystery with Hattie McDaniel…i’m so there.

Sunday, June 10
JUDY GARLAND’S 90th BIRTHDAY
You can’t really go wrong with anything today.

TCM Week – April 23-29

Monday, April 23
There seems to be a lot of good ’20s-’30s stuff on this morning and into the afternoon that I have never seen before, including most of the all-silent Laurel & Hardy block:
6:30 a.m. Putting Pants on Phillip (1927)
7:00 a.m. You’re Darn Tootin’ (1928)
8:00 a.m. Habeas Corpus (1928)
8:30 a.m. Big Business (1929)
9:00 a.m. Double Whoopee (1929)
9:30 a.m. Angora Love (1929)

1:15 p.m. It Happened In Hollywood (1937)
“A silent Western star has trouble adjusting to the coming of sound.” With Richard Dix, Fay Wray and Franklin Pangborn, who also has a role in Living on Love (1937) at 2:30 p.m.

There’s a Western block beginning at 8:00 p.m., including Ambush, Ride Lonesome with Randolph Scott, and Geronimo. One of my few favorites, Stagecoach, is on at 1:00 a.m. (Tues.). I don’t think anybody needs to see this quite as many times as Orson Welles, who reportedly watched it 70 times while he was making Citizen Kane, but I’m still going to DVR it.

Tuesday, April 24
8:00 p.m. The Way We Were (1973)
***TCM PARTY***
This day is singer/actress/director/Taurus Barbra Streisand’s 70th birthday and TCM is celebrating with a bunch of her movies beginning at 8 p.m. and going on into Wednesday morning. Our TCM Party, guest hosted by @CitizenScreen, is probably one of the best of Streisand’s films and certainly one of the most referenced in TV and movies. Complicated and serious Katie (Streisand) is in love with her total opposite, easygoing Hubbell (Robert Redford). Their different approaches to life drive them apart against the scary backdrop of the McCarthyist witch hunts of the 1940s.  Join us by tweeting with #TCMParty…my late mother would be proud.

Wednesday, April 25
3:00 p.m. Crossplot (1969)
In the 1960s, an adman woos women at all hours and, with his loyal secretary’s help, manages to successfully deal with clients as well. Not Don Draper…Roger Moore, apparently as an art director, with his future M, Bernard Lee, in a supporting role. Yeah, I’ll be setting the DVR.

Thursday, April 26
Directed by John Cromwell
8:00 p.m. Sweepings (1933)
Of Human Bondage (1934) director John Cromwell’s first film at RKO is a comedy about a department store founder (Lionel Barrymore) who works his fingers to the bone to build a legacy for his underwhelmed children.

Friday, April 27
8:00 p.m. Stage Door (1937)
***TCM PARTY***
Chosen by the TCM Party people (or those who voted anyway), tonight’s film follows the girls who stay at the Footlights Club, a boarding house for struggling New York actresses. It’s fun and snappy, with much of the dialogue improvised or taken from the stars’ actual conversations and re-written by the director, Gregory La Cava (My Man Godfrey). The cast includes Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Ann Miller, and Lucille Ball. Tweet along with #TCMParty.

Saturday, April 28
Trevor Howard Block
Almost always described as a scene-stealer, Howard was never a big Hollywood star but he worked steadily for five decades. TCM’s got five of his films, beginning with The Third Man at 8 p.m. and continuing with the heartbreaking Brief Encounter (which basically established British film in the US), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), and The Golden Salamander. His performance in Third Man is so appropriate to the character…quiet, understated, but so persuasive.

Sunday, April 29
7:00 a.m. The Falcon Takes Over (1942)
Yes, this is a poorly disguised version of the novel Farewell, My Lovely, which the producers bought from Raymond Chandler for a measly $2000 and bizarrely grafted onto another writer’s detective character. The title was even pinched from another film, The Saint Takes Over. But George Sanders is in it, so it’s here.

12:45 a.m. (Mon.) A Modern Musketeer (1917)
***TCM PARTY***
Our resident silent film expert @tpjost is hosting this TCMP, in which Douglas Fairbanks plays both D’Artagnan of The Three Musketeers and a contemporary version thereof, a guy whose gallantry and daring can match any 17th century swashbuckler. Look for us on Twitter with #TCMParty.

 

 

 

TCM Week: April 16-22

When I was younger, my aunt, who is the person most responsible for my classic movie addiction, had a book, Halliwell’s Film Guide, by British film critic and TV producer Leslie Halliwell. There are cast and crew lists, production info, and short reviews of probably thousands of movies in the book; I can’t imagine that Halliwell went even one day without watching a movie. Despite the fact that he watched movies for a living, he seems to have been kind of a cranky guy, and he didn’t have too much of a sense of humor. But he had a unique voice, was a master of the backhanded compliment, and you can learn a lot reading his Guide. So I thought I would see what he wrote about the movies I think look interesting this week. Everything in quotes is from Halliwell’s Film Guide, fifth edition. Charles Scribners’ Sons, New York: 1986.

Charlie Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill in City Lights

Monday, April 16
Early Morning Charlie Chaplin Block
6:00 a.m. Pay Day (1922) [Halliwell didn’t review this one]
6:30 a.m. The Kid (1921) “The comedy is very sparingly laid on…the film contains much of the quintessential Chaplin.”
7:30 a.m. A Woman of Paris (1923) “Remarkably simply-handed ‘road to ruin’ melodrama; its subleties of treatment make it still very watchable for those so inclined.”
9:00 a.m. City Lights (1931) “Sentimental comedy with several delightful sequences in Chaplin’s best manner.”

Paul Newman plays Armand, the bomb throwing anarchist, and Sophia Lauren is the laundress who loves him in Lady L

Tuesday, April 17
2:45 p.m. Lady L (1965)
Peter Ustinov directs Sophia Loren, Paul Newman and David Niven in this fictional biography of a laundress who became a duchess through marriage. Tell us how you really feel, Halliwell: “Unhappy, lumbering, styleless attempt to recapture several old forms, indifferently though expensively made and acted.”

6:30 p.m. She Couldn’t Say No (1954)
The casting sounds good, I loved these two together in the very different Angel Face: Jean Simmons as a wealthy young lady who wants to give away loads of money to the citizens of a small town and Robert Mitchum as the small town’s doctor.  Halliwell’s verdict? “Moderate Capraesque comedy which doesn’t quite come off.”

Wednesday, April 18
11:00 p.m. The Endless Summer (1966)
I don’t need Halliwell for this one. This low-fi documentary about a couple of surfers following sick waves around the world is fascinating, beautiful and best watched in the dead of winter. Without director Bruce Brown, I don’t think there would have been a Warren Miller.

Thursday, April 19
Beach Party (1963)
***TCM PARTY***
Frankie (Frankie Avalon) just wants to be alone at the beach with his girlfriend Dolores (Annette Funicello). She just wants to have a party with tons of friends. Unbeknownst to them, they’re all being observed in minute detail by an anthropologist (Robert Cummings). Complications and hilarity ensue. Laugh and tweet along with #TCMParty…our special guest host is @ChicagoBernie. Halliwell would sort of approve: “Vaguely satirical pop musical with relaxed performances; quite tolerable in itself, it started an excruciating trend.”

Friday, April 20
6:45 a.m. Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966)
This one sounds like it may have been the inspiration for the fembots in the Austin Powers movies. A mad (is there any other kind?) scientist (Vincent Price) creates a bunch of, um, bombshells, which are supposed to destroy the top military brass in every country in the world. Halliwell didn’t hold back: “Inane teenage nonsense, almost enough to make one swear off movies.”

Saturday, April 21
7:30 a.m. Nothing Sacred (1937)
Carole Lombard plays a woman whose misdiagnosed illness has made her a celebrity; Fredric March is the newspaperman who hyped the story. What happens when the mistake is discovered? I love this still-timely comedy and Halliwell did too: “Hollywood’s most bitter and hilarious satire, with crazy comedy elements and superb wisecracks; a joy.”

TCM Week spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan viewing, DVR scheduling, and/or #TCMParty attendance. All times are EST.

TCM Week – April 2-8

Monday, April 2
6:45 a.m. Born to Dance (1936)
Eleanor Powell and James Stewart in a good old-fashioned (by that I mean, sorta corny) musical full of mistaken identity and misunderstandings.

8 p.m. Doris Day Block
TCM salutes the Star of the Month Doris Day with 28 movies beginning tonight at 8 p.m. with her musicals. I never knew that Day idolized Ginger Rogers and wanted to become a dancer. She thought her dream was lost when she was injured in a car wreck as a teenager. She learned to sing while recovering and was soon a huge recording star, but she was quite nervous about dancing in Tea for Two because she hadn’t danced in years.
8:00 p.m. The Lullaby of Broadway (1951)
9:45 p.m. By The Light of the Silvery Moon  (1953)
11:30 p.m. My Dream Is Yours (1949)
1:15 a.m. (Tues.) On Moonlight Bay (1951)
3:00 a.m. (Tues.) Romance on the High Seas (1948)
4:45 a.m. (Tues.) Tea for Two (1950)

Tuesday, April 3
9:45 a.m. The Fugitive Kind (1960)
Film version of Tennessee Williams’ play Orpheus Descending, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani and Joanne Woodward. A really weird movie.

8:00 p.m. Lover Come Back (1961)
***TCM PARTY***
Tonight’s Doris Day block begins with this ad-biz comedy in which Day and Rock Hudson play account execs for rival agencies. Their work philosophies and client relations skills are drastically, hilariously different (to say the least). Guest hosted by @mercurie80. Find us on Twitter with #TCMParty.

Wednesday, April 4
Doris Day Block
Tonight TCM spotlights Doris Day’s dramatic talents in four films: Midnight Lace (1960), Storm Warning (1951), The Winning Team (1952), and Julie (1956). Disturbingly she is beset by creepers in two of them.

Thursday, April 5
8:00 p.m. Please Don’t Eat the Daisies (1960)
***TCM PARTY***
A drama critic and his wife have a difficult period of adjustment when they decide to move from New York City into the suburbs. Find us on Twitter with #TCMParty.

Friday, April 6
9:45 a.m. Jewel Robbery (1932)
Don’t miss William Powell as a well-mannered jewel thief who’s fallen in love with his mark (Kay Francis). Their chemistry is pretty close to what he had going with Carole Lombard and Myrna Loy. Did I mention it’s a pre-Code?

12:45 p.m. The Man with Two Faces (1934)
This sounds really interesting. Edward G. Robinson plays an actor trying to shield his sister from her murderous husband, who seems to have her under some kind of hypnotic spell.

Saturday, April 7
3:00 p.m. The Great Escape (1963)
***TCM PARTY***
It is well-known to you all that I have a thing for World War II movies; not all of them are good, but this one is. A bunch of Allied soldiers try to dig their way out of a German POW camp — it’s the sworn duty of every British officer to attempt to escape! Based on a true story, it stars Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. Find us on Twitter with #TCMParty.

6:00 p.m. 4 for Texas (1963)
Rat Pack Western.

Rita Hayworth Block
I’ve seen the first two of these and not the others but I doubt you can really go wrong.
8:00 p.m. Gilda (1946)
10:00 p.m. The Lady From Shanghai (1948)
11:45 p.m. Fire Down Below (1957) With Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon. Personally I’d tune in just for that.
2:00 a.m. (Sun.) The Happy Thieves (1961)

Sunday, April 8
TCM features mostly Christian-themed films today. One that caught my eye airs at midnight, Leaves from Satan’s Book (1919), a Danish silent film directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. It depicts various historical events from the point of view of the “disheartened” Satan.

TCM Week spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan movie viewing, DVR scheduling or TCM Party attendance. All times are EST.

 

TCM Week: March 26-April 1

Monday, March 26
2:45 p.m. Zero Hour! (1957)
I’ll be tuning into this for two reasons, one being Dana Andrews, and and the other this oddly Airplane!-like synopsis: “When a flight crew falls ill, the only man who can land the plane is afraid of flying.”

8:00 p.m. Kes (1970)
10:00 p.m. Darling (1965)
***TCM PARTY***
The last Monday of British New Wave Month kicks off with Kes, about a teenager whose only escape from the chaos around him is a falcon, and Darling, about a model in the Swinging ’60s. It continues with The Pumpkin Eater (1964) at 12:15 a.m., and The Knack…and How To Get It (1965) at 2:30 a.m. Guest hosted by @mercurie80.

Tuesday, March 27
Robert Mitchum Block
Beginning at 8 p.m. with Cape Fear (1962), TCM features 5 films starring one of the toughest dudes around, Robert Mitchum. He is truly psychopathic in Cape Fear and The Night of the Hunter (1955), both of which are difficult for me to watch, but I still recommend them.

Wednesday, March 28
British actor Dirk Bogarde is featured in a block beginning at noon: The Spanish Gardener (1956), Libel (1959), The Password Is Courage (1962) and Damn the Defiant (1962).

Thursday, March 29
3:00 p.m. The King’s Thief (1955)
George Sanders Alert
As he did in Forever Amber, Sanders plays Charles II in a swashbuckler that doesn’t require much thought. I mean that in the best way.

6:15 p.m. The Man Who Laughs [L’uomo che ride] (1966)
Remake of the 1928 silent which starred Conrad Veidt.

10:00 p.m. Dirigible (1931)
Very early Frank Capra work in which two pilots try to take a dirigible to the South Pole. Sounds really odd but it’s Capra.

Friday, March 30
8:30 a.m. Random Harvest (1942)
Paula (Greer Garson) is a nice showgirl who takes in a “John Smith” from the local asylum (Ronald Colman) only to lose him when he recovers his memory, discovers that he is really a rich guy and forgets all about her. Such a romantic film. No, really. Trust me.

6:30 p.m. Beware, My Lovely (1952)
I bet you thought I was going to pick The Seven Year Itch or Lost Weekend? Both are pretty good, especially Lost Weekend. Instead, I’ve got to shill for Beware, My Lovely, sort of a film noir/thriller hybrid that stars tough cookie Ida Lupino as a widow who discovers her handyman (Robert Ryan) is really a ticking time bomb of homicidal paranoia. Some really interesting angles make it a class on subjective camera.

Saturday, March 31
1:30 p.m. Stagecoach (1939)
Orson Welles allegedly watched this 70 times while making Citizen Kane, you might want to check it out at least once.

8:00 p.m. Sunrise (1927)
***TCM PARTY***
I really want see this one because it was directed by F.W. Murnau of Nosferatu fame. That film is one of the few silents I’ve seen on a big screen (OK, it’s also one of the few silents I’ve seen anywhere) and it really scares me, so I’m interested to see what he does with this story of major drama brought on an innocent married couple through the corrupting influence of a woman from the city. Guest hosted by @tpjost.

Sunday, April 1
So many good films today…wow. One crazy-sounding one is scheduled for 6:00 a.m., Hips, Hips, Hooray (1934), the plot of which is described as “the pretext for some delightfully anarchic gags.” Otherwise, you can tune pretty much any time today and not go too far wrong.

TCM Week spotlights a highly subjective selection of the week’s essential or undiscovered films on the Turner Classic Movies channel to help plan movie viewing, DVR scheduling or TCM Party attendance. All times are EST.

 

TCM Tonight: Brute Force '47

Just wanted to spotlight a great and very thorough review of the film noir Brute Force (1947) by my friend Kevin, a.k.a. Jack Deth. Directed by noir legend Jules Dassin, Burt Lancaster stars as Joe Collins, an unruly prisoner in an overcrowded penitentiary, who constantly clashes with the brutal, tyrannical guards and warden.

Gritty prison life in Brute Force (1947)

When he and his pals are assigned to drain pipe duty, they work out a scheme to escape that is very likely doomed from the beginning. Or is it? Find out tonight at 10:00 EST on TCM.