Saturday, May 5, 2012

TCM TiVo Alert for May 8-14

May 8–May 14


AU REVOIR, LES ENFANTS: I love this film. It's directed by Louis Malle and is largely autobiographical about his life at a Catholic boarding school in occupied France in 1944 during World War II. Malle's character becomes friends with another boy at the school, who is actually Jewish and being hidden from the Nazis by the school's headmaster, a priest. It's a very moving coming-of-age film that stays with the viewer long after it ends.

AUTUMN SONATA: It's the only film (Ingmar) Bergman directed that starred (Ingrid) Bergman. It also stars the great Liv Ullmann, who is in many Ingmar Bergman films. Ingrid, in her last theatrical film, (she starred as Golda Meir in the TV film, A Woman Called Golda, four years later) is a famous (and now older) classical concert pianist who has a poor relationship with her children, including a daughter, played by Ullmann. Ingrid comes for a visit and things don't go well. It culminates with Ullmann's character telling her mother about how her upbringing has affected her life. Ingrid also has a lot to say. The dialogue is heavy and deep. It is an Ingmar Bergman-directed film after all. The acting is incredible. It's only 99 minutes long - and well worth seeing.


THE PHENIX CITY STORY – A wonderful docudrama about “the wickedest city in America” and how it came to be cleaned up. TCM shows the full version, which includes a prologue with noted correspondent Clete Roberts interviewing citizens of Phenix City after the National guard stepped in to restore order. If crime movies are your thing, this is one to see. And if crime movies aren’t exactly your thing, this well-made and well-acted movie is still worth your time.

DIABOLIQUE – This masterful psychological horror film will keep you on the edge of your seat. The twist ending murder plot has been done many times, but never better than in this film. It takes place at a school where Simone Signoret helps her friend Vera Clouzot (real life wife of the director) drown her ogre of a husband (Paul Meurisse), who “returns to life” in a really terrifying scene.


ED: ABringing Up Baby is a raucously funny screwball comedy featuring the many comedic talents of Cary Grant. Hepburn, in a role better suited for Carole Lombard, nevertheless acquits herself nicely as the scatterbrained heroine. With such great supporting actors as Fritz Feld, May Robson, Barry Fitzgerald, and Charlie Ruggles, it keeps its head of steam from opening reel to the end credits.

DAVID: D+. I dislike this film and consider it one of the most overrated of all time. I'm not a Hepburn fan. I've seen about 15 of her films and like two of them. While not as unbearable as The African Queen, this one is painful to watch. The gags fall flat, the storyline is predictable and simply not funny. There is zero chemistry between Hepburn and Cary Grant. Grant's career is better for that. Look what Hepburn did to Spencer Tracy's career because they supposedly had chemistry. It was rare for me to find any of the Hepburn-Tracy comedies enjoyable.

May 8

6:30 am -- RIGHT CROSS (MGM, 1950): June Allyson, Dick Powell, Ricardo Montalban. Sportswriter Powell and boxer Montalban are both in love with Allyson. Look for an unbilled Marilyn Monroe in an early role. C+

2:30 pm -- THE UNFINISHED DANCE (MGM, 1947): Margaret O’Brien, Cyd Charisse & Karin Booth. A young student’s fear that the ballet teacher she idolizes will be replaced leads to tragedy in this remake of Jean Benoit-Levy’s 1937 La mort du cygne (The Death of the Swan). C+

4:15 pm -- AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (MGM, 1951): Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, & Nina Foch. An American artist (Kelly) loves Caron, but loyalty to his patron, Foch, almost ruins it all. A+

8:00 pm -- THE ROARING TWENTIES (WB, 1939): James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, & Jeffrey Lynn. Cagney and Bogie are marvelous in this gangster opus about two former comrades in WWI that later become partners in a bootlegging empire. Nobody dies onscreen like Bogie. B

11:00 pm -- MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES (Universal-International, 1957): Jimmy Cagney, Dorothy Malone & Jane Greer. Cagney is terrific is this respectful, if not always accurate, biopic of the great Lon Chaney. Well worth watching. B+

May 9

6:45 am -- RED RIVER ROBIN HOOD (RKO, 1942): Tim Holt, Cliff “Ukulele” Ike” Edwards. Good Tim Holt B-Western about two ranchers that join forces to fend off a crooked land grabber. C

8:00 am -- THE ROBIN HOOD OF EL DORADO (MGM, 1936): Warner Baxter, Bruce Cabot. In the 1840’s California farmer Joaquin Murrieta (Baxter) revenges the death of his wife against the four Americans who killed her and is branded an outlaw. C

9:30 am -- ROBIN AND THE SEVEN HOODS (WB, 1964):  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. Rat Pack comedy with the boys as Chicago hoods that come to the aid of an orphanage. C-

11:45 am -- A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD (20th Century Fox/Hammer, 1968): Barrie Ingham, James Hayter. This is an English-produced retelling of the legend with Ingham in the title role. C

6:30 pm -- SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST (Hammer/Columbia, 1960): Richard Greene, Peter Cushing. Robin (Greene) infiltrates a gang of assassins to thwart the Sheriff of Nottingham’s (Cushing) latest plot. C

8:00 pm -- THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (RKO, 1932): Joel McCrea is a noted big game hunter shipwrecked on an island who is himself hunted by Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks). With Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong as a brother and sister also shipwrecked and held by the Count. Made by the producers of King KongA-

9:30 pm -- FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (UA, 1940): Joel McCrea, Laraine Day. On the eve of World War II a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London. A

May 10

8:30 am -- ADVENTURE IN MANHATTAN (Columbia, 1936): Joel McCrea, Jean Arthur, & Reginald Owen. McCrea shines in this as a hotshot crime reporter who clashes with temperamental actress Arthur when he investigates the backer of her latest show. A-

9:45 am -- THE ANIMAL KINGDOM (RKO, 1932): Ann Harding, Leslie Howard, & Myrna Loy. An intellectual publisher cannot choose between his society wife and his freethinking former love. A-

3:45 pm -- BATTLE CRY (WB, 1955): Van Heflin, Aldo Ray. Raoul Walsh directed this entertaining look at a group of Marines awaiting deployment in WWII. B+

8:00 pm -- THE PHENIX CITY STORY (Allied Artists, 1955): Richard Kiley, John McIntire, & Edward Andrews. Phil Karlson directed this fact-based story of “the wickedest city in America” and the events that finally forced authorities to take a stand. A

11:30 pm --  I WANT TO LIVE! (MGM, 1958): Susan Hayward, Theodore Bikel. Drama based on Barbara Graham (Hayward), a San Francisco hooker who went to the gas chamber in 1955, even though she insisted that she wasn’t guilty of murder. B

1:45 am -- MADELEINE (GFD, 1950): Ann Todd, Leslie Banks. Based on the true story of Madeleine Smith, a young Glasgow woman from a wealthy family who stood trial in 1857 for the murder of her lover.  Directed by David Lean. B

May 11

2:00 pm -- HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE (U.A., 1965): Jack Lemmon, Virna Lisi. After marrying while drunk, a successful cartoonist puts his murderous fantasies into his work in this often hysterical comedy. It’s one of Lemmon’s best. A-

4:00 pm -- THE HONEY POT (U.A., 1967): Rex Harrison, Susan Heyward, Capucine, & Edie Adams. Millionaire Harrison fakes a terminal illness to fool his three greedy mistresses that turns into a murder mystery when one of the mistresses overdoses on pills.

8:00 pm -- BEDAZZLED (Fox, 1967): Peter Cook, Dudley Moore & Eleanor Bron. One of the greatest comedies ever made. Moore is a short-order cook who just wants to date waitress Bron. Enter Cook as the Devil. He could make that happen and all it costs is Dudley’s soul. So Dudley signs the “seven-wishes” contract with hilarious results. Intelligently written and acted. AN ABSOLUTE MUST SEE!!  A++

10:00 pm -- THE WRONG BOX (Columbia, 1966): John Mills, Ralph Richardson, Michael Caine, & Peter Cook. Two elderly brothers plot to kill each other for a fortune. B+

May 12

9:15 am -- MINISTRY OF FEAR (Universal, 1949): Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds. Released from a mental asylum, Stephen Neale (Milland) runs across a Nazi spy ring and is not really sure of what he saw or who to turn to. Directed by Fritz Lang. A

10:45 am -- BOSTON BLACKIE AND THE LAW (Columbia, 1946): Chester Morris, George E. Stone. Blackie brings his magic show to a woman’s prison and gets mixed up in an escape. C+

1:15 pm -- BRINGING UP BABY (RKO, 1938): Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn. Howard Hawks directed this classic screwball comedy about a naïve professor (Grant) pursued by a dizzy heiress (Hepburn) with a pet leopard. Rating: See Above.

6:15 pm -- ADAM’S RIB (MGM, 1949): Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, David Wayne, & Judy Holliday. Tracy and Hepburn are husband and wife lawyers on opposite sides in a murder case. Written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin and directed by George Cukor. B

8:00 pm -- DIABOLIQUE (Seven Arts – France, 1955): Paul Meurisse, Vera Clouzot, & Simone Signoret. Forget the Sharon Stone remake; this is the one to watch. A cruel headmaster’s wife and mistress plot to kill him. Weldon: “The twist-ending murder plot has been done countless times, but never better.” A MUST SEE!  A++

12:00 am -- THE SANDPIPER (MGM, 1965): Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. An Episcopal priest falls for a married artist. Godawful. D+

2:15 am -- GOODBYE, MR. CHIPS (MGM, 1939): Robert Donat, Greer Garson. The evolution of a cold-hearted British schoolteacher from disliked to school favorite as his marriage brings out the best in him. A+

4:15 am -- AU REVOIR, LES ENFANTS (Marin Karmits Productions, 1987): Gaspard Manesse, Francine Racette. A French boarding school harbors Jewish children during the Nazi occupation. A

May 13

6:45 am -- THE CATERED AFFAIR (MGM, 1956): Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, & Debbie Reynolds. Gore Vidal adapted this Paddy Chayefsky play about a working-class couple determined to give their daughter a lavish wedding – whether she wants it or not. A-

10:30 am -- SO BIG (WB, 1953): Jane Wyman, Sterling Hayden. A schoolteacher-turned-farmer fights to save the land and her son. B+

3:00 pm -- MRS. MINIVER (MGM, 1942): Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon. Garson is a British housewife and Pidgeon her husband in the ultimate morale picture as she holds the family together during the blitz. C+

5:30 pm -- I REMEMBER MAMA (RKO, 1948): Irene Dunne, Philip Dorn. Excellent ensemble acting marks this heartwarming drama of the trials and tribulations of a Norwegian immigrant family in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. A-

10:00 pm -- MILDRED PIERCE (WB, 1945): Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, & Eve Arden. Crawford won an Oscar for her portrayal of a self-made woman whose spoiled rotten teenage daughter (Blyth) embroils her in murder. A

2:00 am -- AUTUMN SONATA (New World, 1978): Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullman. Ingmar Bergman directed this drama about a concert pianist who faces a tense reunion with the children she has neglected for many years. A+

4:00 am -- BERGMAN ISLAND (SVT Sales Release, 2006): This documentary about the life and career of the noted director uses behind-the-scenes material from Bergman’s private archive. B

May 14

7:30 am -- SARATOGA TRUNK (WB, 1945): Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman. A woman with a past returns to 19th century New Orleans for revenge. C

12:00 pm -- GIANT (WB, 1956): Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, & James Dean. George Stevens directed this sprawling saga about a Texas oil family struggling to adapt to changing times. B

6:00 pm -- STAGE DOOR (RKO, 1937): Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, & Lucille Ball. It’s nothing more than the old chestnut about aspiring actresses living in a boarding house while waiting for the big break. C+

8:00 pm -- STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER (20th Century Fox, 1952): Clifton Webb, Debra Paget. Biopic of composer John Philip Sousa, who wrote many of America’s most beloved marches. C+

11:30 pm -- ONE HUNDRED MEN AND A GIRL (Universal, 1937): Deanna Durbin, Adolphe Menjou. An unemployed musician’s daughter looks everywhere to find him as job. A-

4:45 am -- THE INSPECTOR GENERAL (WB, 1949): Danny Kaye, Walter Slezak. Perpetual student Kaye pretends to be a government official in a small Eastern European village. B+

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