TCM TiVo ALERT
June 15–June 22
DAVID’S BEST BETS:
ALL THE KING'S MEN (June 16, 2:00 pm): I've recommended this 1949 film once before - and it's in regular rotation on TCM - but I can't stress how outstanding it is and how those who've never seen it, must do so. It's one of the 10 greatest films ever made. Broderick Crawford is brilliant as Willie Stark, a do-gooder who fails as a politician until he works the system, gets dirt on friends and foes, and becomes a beloved populist governor. There are other incredible performances, particularly John Ireland as Jack Burden, a journalist who "discovers" Stark and helps him climb the political ladder, stepping over anyone in the way; and Raymond Greenleaf as Judge Monte Stanton, Burden's mentor and role model. As I had previously written, if you love politics, this is the best movie on the subject ever made. If you hate politics, you'll love this film as it gives you plenty of reasons to confirm your belief on the subject.
12 ANGRY MEN (June 16, 4:00 am): This is another quality film that I've recommended one other time. It's a movie that really stays with you for its quality, intensity and outstanding performances by an all-star cast that includes Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Jack Warden, E.G. Marshall and Jack Klugman. The film takes place almost entirely inside a hot jury room that gets even hotter as the debate over the guilt or innocence of the man on trial escalates. Director Sidney Lumet and the cast make the viewer feel like he/she is a voyeur sitting in the room with the jurors. It's one of the greatest courtroom dramas made, quite a feat for a movie that skips over the case and gets right to the jury deliberations.
ED’S BEST BETS:
PICTURE SNATCHER (June 17, 9:45 am): Jimmy Cagney is at his best as an ex-con who finds a new line of work as a reporter/photographer for a struggling tabloid. Bringing his somewhat unethical ways to the job, he nails prize photo after photo until his questionable ethics cost the father of his girlfriend his job. Can Cagney make everything right again? Do we have to ask?
THE SEARCHERS (June 22, 8:00 pm): It’s an old axiom among serious film buffs that John Wayne was a most limited actor. While that’s true, just give him a good script and a director like John Ford or Howard Hawks to keep him in line and milk a good performance out of him and he’s not only good – he’s compelling to watch. Wayne is a Civil War veteran obsessed with tracking down the Comanches that killed his family and slaughtered his niece. He also hates Indians with a passion, and Ford paints an interesting character study as Wayne pursues the kidnappers. Not to be missed, even for those that aren’t exactly crazy about Westerns.
WE DISAGREE ON ... FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON (June 22, 6:15 pm)
ED: D. I’m a big fan of both Joseph Cotten and George Sanders. The film also boasts a good supporting cast, including Debra Paget, Patric Knowles, Henry Daniell, Ludwig Stossel, and that Grand Old Man of Sci-fi, Morris Ankrum. So why don’t I like this movie? Simple – it’s mind-numbingly dull, plodding along for what seems like hours with only minimal cuts to action. It’s nothing but talk, talk, and more talk, and the talk is dull at that. And check out the cheesy special effects: we can clearly see the bar holding up the model spaceship. It’s almost worthy of Ed Wood, Jr. And while Cotten and Sanders star in this clunker, it’s obvious to see they just doing this for the paycheck. They look and act bored, especially Sanders. This is something that belongs not on TCM, but on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
DAVID: C+. Is this a sci-fi classic? Certainly not. Are the special effects not so special? Yes. But any movie starring Joseph Cotten and George Sanders starts with a grade of C just for the casting. The storyline, based on a Jules Verne book of the same title, has its moments. The bitter rivalry between greedy munitions maker Victor Barbicane (Cotten) and holier-than-thou metallurgist Stuyvesant Nicholl (Sanders) provides a nice give-and-take for the two screen legends. Barbicane's latest explosive, the ominous-sounding Power X, is met with skepticism from Nicholl, who bets it can't destroy his invention, the world's hardest metal. The metal gets blown up, but it's also converted into a super-strong and super-lightweight ceramic. So what's next? A trip to the moon, of course, with the spaceship made of the ceramic. It has some silly scenes and lacks consistently strong dialogue, but Cotten and Sanders worked well together and turned a weak script with bad special effects into a decent film.
For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.