TCM TiVo ALERT
July 15–July 22
DAVID’S BEST BETS:
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (July 19, 8:00 pm): The first of the fantastic "Spaghetti Westerns" trilogy films starring Clint Eastwood as "The Man With No Name" (an undertaker calls him Joe, but his real name is never revealed) and directed by Sergio Leone. It's a rip-off of Akiro Kurosawa's Yojimbo, but what a great rip-off! Eastwood is a stranger and an excellent gunslinger who comes to a small Mexican town in the middle of a long and bloody feud between the Rojo brothers and the Baxter family. Eastwood's character sees an opportunity for money by "working" as a gun-for-hire for both. The 1964 film is funny, clever, and action-packed. TCM is showing all three films in the trilogy in a row, starting with this one.
RED RIVER (July 20, 8:00 pm): I'm not a John Wayne fan, but this film – with Montgomery Clift in a brilliant turn as his adopted son – is outstanding. Wayne is excellent as a "bad guy" whose tyrannical ways cause a mutiny among those working for him on the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. Director Howard Hawks brings out the best in Wayne, who should get credit for not only agreeing to take on the role of the "heavy," but for doing it so well. Clift was one of Hollywood's brightest stars and was already an elite actor in this, only his second movie.
ED’S BEST BETS:
THE SNAKE PIT (July 15, 8:00 pm): One of the first films to intelligently look at the problem of mental illness. It's a harrowing look at mental breakdowns and the resulting slow recovery process. Olivia de Havilland is magnificent in this film about one woman’s fight to regain her mental balance.
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (July 21, 7:15 am): Rene Clair directs this great adaptation of the Agatha Christie story about 10 people invited to a lonely island where they’re murdered one by one. Dudley Nichols’ wonderful script goes perfectly with director Clair’s visual deftness; together they bring the novel to a vibrant life. There have been seven adaptation of this over the years. This is the best.
WE DISAGREE ON ... HARUM SCARUM (July 15, 12:00 pm):
ED: C-. Elvis comes close to rock bottom in this lifeless comedy. He’s an American singer-film star invited to a desert kingdom of Babelstan where he’s kidnapped by assassins out to get the king. He escapes and foils the plot while falling in love with the king’s daughter. With films such as this, is it any wonder that Frankie and Annette dominated the teen market?
DAVID: D-. This is a disagreement about how bad this film is because we both agree it's horrible. I love Elvis films for the most part, even ones that most sane people think are awful. But even I have to draw the line somewhere and that line is Stay Away, Joe and Harum Scarum. Actually, both are miles past that line. Presley plays an action-film star kidnapped by Middle Eastern assassins who want him to kill an Arabian king. Who better to kill a king than The King? Mary Ann Mobley plays a slave girl who is actually an Arabian princess in an absolutely unconvincing role. You can actually see defeat on Elvis’ face during this movie. He looks like he knows the film is awful and he’s embarrassed to be in it – and he should. It’s a comedy, but there’s absolutely nothing funny about this film. The reasons it escapes an F are there's a lot of women in skimpy outfits and it's the only time I've seen Elvis wearing green genie/M.C. Hammer pants.
For the complete list of films on the TCM TiVo Alert, click here.