TCM TiVo ALERT



TCM TiVo Alert
For
April 23-30

DAVID’S BEST BETS:

SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (April 26, 3:45 am): An unusual and very compelling British film from 1964 with Kim Stanley as a mentally unstable medium who convinces her weak-willed, hen-pecked husband (played by Richard Attenborough) to kidnap the young daughter of a rich man. She wants to help the police solve the kidnapping so she can become famous. Nothing goes right as Stanley's character gets more and more crazy, and has her husband kill the girl. Stanley and Attenborough are splendid in their roles in this outstanding psychological thriller.

THUNDER ROAD (April 28, 10:30 pm): There are few actors with greater screen presence than Robert Mitchum. In this 1958 film, he's a fearless Korean War vet who makes the high-speed and dangerous car deliveries for his family's moonshine business. His family and the other moonshiners with illegal distilleries in the mountains of Kentucky and Tennessee are feeling the heat from not only the feds, but from a big-shot, big-money gangster who wants to buy them out at a fraction of their business profits. Those who resist wind up either having their business destroyed or are murdered. Mitchum, who co-wrote the story and produced the film, is outstanding in one of his finest roles. He's got to make his last run even though he knows he's got little chance to succeed. It's an excellent film with tons of action. End notes: Mitchum wrote his son's character for Elvis Presley, who loved the script, but his manager, the infamous Colonel Tom Parker, killed the idea by asking for a ridiculous amount of money for Elvis to take the role. This was a common with Parker, who never wanted Elvis to act in serious films. Instead the role went to James Mitchum, Robert's son. Also of note, the title of one of Bruce Springsteen's best songs, Thunder Road, (originally called Wings for Wheels) came from this movie. Springsteen hadn't seen the film before writing the song, but saw a poster for the film in a theater lobby and thought it sounded cool. He's right. Imagine if he saw the movie. He probably would have also changed the name of the album from Born to Run.

ED’S BEST BETS:

RIO BRAVO (April 25, 5:15 pm): Howard Hawks produced and directed this wonderful Western with John Wayne as a sheriff who must prevent a killer with wealthy family connection from escaping his jail. Wayne can only enlist a drunken Dean Martin, gimpy Walter Brennan and tenderfoot Ricky Nelson to help him. Oh yeah, he also has the beautiful Angie Dickinson on his side. Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman wrote the script. The French critics fell over themselves praising this when it came out, but never mind, it’s a classic anyway.

MAN HUNT (April 30, 10:00 pm): A great thriller from director Fritz Lang has Walter Pidgeon as a big-game hunter who infiltrates Hitler’s Berghof in Berchtesgaden, has Der Fuehrer in his sights, but is interrupted and arrested by the Gestapo. They don’t buy his explanation that he wasn’t preparing to shoot Hitler, but offer him freedom if he signs a confession saying the British government put him up to it. When he refuses they torture him and shove him over a cliff to make his death appear “accidental.” He survives and makes it to England, but soon finds German spies are hot on his trail. Thus the hunter becomes the hunted. Besides Pidgeon and George Sanders as the Gestapo official, the film also boasts a breakthrough performance by Joan Bennett as a prostitute who becomes Pidgeon’s ally in his fight against Sanders and the Nazis. Don’t think through the logic of the plot; just go along for the ride. You won’t be disappointed.

WE DISAGREE ON ... THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (April 23, 8:00 pm)

ED: A+. This film was planned in 1942 as a morale booster and a plug for the PT Boat, but by the time he got around to shooting it in 1945, John Ford had experienced the war first-hand, which greatly affected his point-of-view. This was one of a group of war films made in 1945 that reflected the real war instead of the glory-winning heroics featured in earlier morale films. In addition, many of the men in the cast had also experienced the war first-hand, which lends an air of authenticity to the film. The star, Robert Montgomery, actually commanded a PT Boat during the war. (During filming, when Ford fell from a scaffold and broke his leg, Montgomery took over the directorial duties.) The film has the usual stirring action scenes, but it differs from earlier war film in its attitude. There are none of the usual patriotic speeches about fighting for God and Country, no maudlin references to the home front and those praying for the safe return of their loved ones, none of the usual monkeyshines between the boys, and most surprisingly, no depictions of the Japanese as robotic and sub-human. The best war films pull no punches. They do not wallow in jingoism; there is no over-the-top heroism designed to manipulate the audience into action. The dialogue is subdued. As the title suggests, this is a sober film about those left behind in the Philippines to fight the Japanese after MacArthur was evacuated to the safety of Australia. This film is so good that it manages to wring a decent performance out of John Wayne, the super patriot who served not a minute in the real war. As such, I regard it as one if the finest war films ever made.

DAVID: B-. This film is interesting and authentic, but it's not very entertaining. The movie tells the story of PT Boats and their usefulness during World War II. The film is fine and Robert Montgomery is very good, as usual. There are long drawn-out scenes that honestly bores me. That doesn't bode well for a movie that runs for two hours and 15 minutes. While I've grown to appreciate some of John Wayne's performances over the years, after unfairly dismissing his entire cinematic career, this is not one of his finest moments. He's not terrible, but Wayne is far from good in this particular movie. His acting is largely stiff and the lines he is given do not help. For example, he's in hospital for an infection in his arm and a nurse, trying to calm him down, suggests they'll eventually dance together. Wayne's response: "Listen, sister, I don't dance and I can't take the time out now to learn. All I want is to get out of here." It's one of the corny lines he delivers throughout the film. Don't get me started on his embarrassing effort to recite poetry in honor of a fallen soldier. Despite that, I admire director John Ford's effort to make an authentic film about World War II shortly after it ended. The film is good, but far from great.

April 23

6:45 am – 3 GODFATHERS (MGM, 1948): John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, Harry Carey, Jr. John Ford’s remake of the 1936 tale about three outlaws risking their freedom to return a baby to town. A+

8:45 am – SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (RKO, 1949): John Wayne, Joanne Dru. An aging Calvary officer tries to prevent an Indian war days before his retirement. A

10:45 am – RIO GRANDE (Republic, 1950): John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara. A cavalry unit located on the Mexican border must contend with Indian uprisings. A-

12:30 pm – THE QUIET MAN (Republic, 1952): John Wayne, Victor McLaglen, & Maureen O’Hara. Irish ex-boxer Wayne returns to Ireland and searches for a proper wife. B

2:45 pm – THE WINGS OF EAGLES (MGM, 1957): John Wayne, Dan Dailey. Wayne is Frank “Spig” Wead, a pioneer aviator who turned to writing after being grounded by an accident in this biopic. B-

4:45 pm – HOW THE WEST WAS WON (MGM, 1962): Henry Fonda, James Stewart & Gregory Peck. An all-star cast highlights this film about three generations of pioneers settling the West. A-

8:00 pm – THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (MGM, 1945): Robert Montgomery, John Wayne. A Navy commander fights to prove the seaworthiness of PT boats at the start of World War Two. Ratings: See above.

10:45 pm – OPERATION PACIFIC (WB, 1951): John Wayne, Patricia Neal, & Ward Bond. Dedicated submarine commander Wayne stops at nothing to defeat the enemy while girlfriend Neal waits for him to return. C+

1:00 am – THE FIGHTING SEABEES (Republic, 1944): John Wayne, Susan Hayward. Wayne stars in this rousing story of the Navy’s construction battalion and its part in fighting the Pacific War. B

3:00 am – BACK TO BATAAN (RKO, 1945): John Wayne, Anthony Quinn. The Duke liberates the Philippines from the Japanese. B

4:45 am – THE GREEN BERETS (WB, 1967): John Wayne, David Janssen. Wayne co-directed this story of the training and deployment of the elite unit in Vietnam. C-

April 24

7:15 am – REUNION IN FRANCE (MGM, 1942): Parisian socialite Joan Crawford helps downed pilot John Wayne evade the Gestapo and escape back to England. Better than you’d think. B-

9:15 am – FLYING TIGERS (Republic, 1942): John Wayne, Paul Kelly. American flyers help the Chinese fight off Japanese invaders. C

11:15 am – FLYING LEATHERNECKS (RKO, 1951): John Wayne, Robert Ryan. World War II Marine officer Wayne drives his men hard during the battle for Guadalcanal.  Directed by Nicholas Ray. B

1:15 pm – THE SEA CHASE (WB, 1955): John Wayne, Lana Turner. A German freighter captain tries to elude British warships in the early days of World War Two. B-

3:15 pm – CAST A GIANT SHADOW (U.A., 1966): Kirk Douglas, Senta Berger & Yul Brenner. Col. Mickey Marcus (Douglas) joins the Israeli fight against the Arabs in 1948. A- 

6:00 pm – BLOOD ALLEY (WB, 1955): John Wayne, Lauren BacallWayne is an American sailor who breaks out of a Chinese jail and dodges Communist agents on his way to Hong Kong. C+

8:00 pm – RED RIVER (UA, 1948): John Wayne, Montgomery Clift. Young cowhand Clift turns against his tyrannical adoptive father (Wayne) during a big cattle drive. A++

10:45 pm – THE SHEPHERD OF THE HILLS (Paramount, 1941): John Wayne, Betty Field. A young man, seeking to murder his father for abandoning his mother, sees things change when a stranger arrives. B+

12:45 am – REAP THE WILD WIND (Paramount, 2942): Ray Milland, John Wayne. & Paulette Goddard. Two sailors compete for the affection of a southern temptress while fighting off pirates. B-

3:15 am – THE SPOILERS (Universal, 1942): Marlene Dietrich, Randolph Scott, & John Wayne. An Alaskan prospect and a crooked federal agent battle over a beautiful saloon singer. B-

4:45 am – I MARRIED A WOMAN (Universal, 1958): George Gobel, Diana Dors. A neglected wife sets out to make her ad man husband jealous. C

April 25

6:15 am – TALL IN THE SADDLE (RKO, 1944): John Wayne, Ella Raines, & Gabby Hayes. A woman-hating cowboy signs on to work for a lady rancher. B+

7:45 am – WITHOUT RESERVATIONS (RKO, 1946): Claudette Colbert, John Wayne. Writer Colbert falls for a war hero that’s a perfect match to the hero in her novel. A-

9:45 am – TYCOON (RKO, 1947): John Wayne, Laraine Day. While building a tunnel through the Andes, an engineer falls for his possessive boss’ daughter. B-

12:00 pm – ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (Republic, 1947): John Wayne, Gail Russell. Nursed back to health by a Quaker, a gunman tries to adopt her peaceful ways. B-

1:45 pm – TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY (WB, 1953): John Wayne, Donna Reed. Wayne stars as a football coach who uses underhanded methods to turn his team into a winner. C+

3:45 pm – BIG JIM MCCLAIN (WB, 1952): John Wayne, James Arness. The Duke takes on Commie agents in Hawaii. C+

5:15 pm – RIO BRAVO (WB, 1959): John Wayne, Dean Martin, & Angie Dickinson. A great film from Howard Hawks: Sheriff Wayne enlists a drunk, a kid and an old man to help him fight off a ruthless cattle baron. A

8:00 pm – NORTH TO ALASKA (WB, 1951): John Wayne, Stewart Granger. It ‘s a fast-moving comedy-adventure of two prospectors fighting off both con men and women after their claim. B

10:15 pm – McLINTOCK (U.A., 1963): John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara. Wayne is a cattle baron and O’Hara his wife in this version The Taming of the ShrewA-

12:45 am – THE SHOOTIST (Universal, 1976): John Wayne, Lauren Bacall & James Stewart. Dying gunfighter Wayne tries to set his affairs in order.  A

2:30 am – THE SONS OF KATIE ELDER (Paramount, 1965): John Wayne, Dean Martin. A rancher’s four sones vow to avenge his death. B

4:45 am – THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (UA, 1965): Max Von Sydow, Charlton Heston. Von Sydow is Jesus and Heston plays John the Baptist in this all-star epic about the life of Christ. B

April 26

8:15 am – BIG JAKE (Nat’l General, 1971): John Wayne, Richard Boone, & Patrick Wayne. A rancher leads the posse out to bring back his kidnapped grandson. B-

10:30 am – MEXICAN SPITFIRE SEES A GHOST (RKO, 1942): Lupe Velez, Leon Errol & Charles “Buddy”Rogers. An ad executive and his temperamental wife investigate a haunted house. C

11:45 pm – THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (MGM, 1951): Audie Murphy, Andy Devine. John Huston directed this version of the Stephen Crane’s story about a young Union soldier who fights to atone for a moment of cowardice. A-

1:00 pm – A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (WB, 1951): Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh. Fading southern belle Leigh tries to build a new life when she moves in with her sister and brutish brother-in-law. A+

3:15 pm – THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS (WB, 1958): Jimmy Stewart, Murray Hamilton. Stewart has the title role in the story of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight to Paris. A

5:45 pm – GUNGA DIN (RKO, 1939): Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, & Joan Fontaine. In 19th century India, three British soldiers and a native waterbearer must stop a mass revival of the Thuggee cult. B

8:00 pm – BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (DisCina, 1946): Jean Marais, Josette Day. Jean Cocteau directed this unique and beautiful version of the classic fairy tale. A++

10:00 pm – THE GLASS SLIPPER (MGM, 1955): Leslie Caron, Michael Wilding. Caron stars in this musical adaptation of Cinderella and her magical trip to the prince’s ball. C+

12:00 am – HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (RKO, 1952): Danny Kaye, Farley Granger. The famed storyteller falls for a married ballerina who stars in one of his stories. B-

2:00 am – THE CANDY SNATCHERS (Gfc, 1973): Tiffany Bolling, Ben Piazza. A 16-year old schoolgirl is kidnapped and buried alive until her father comes up with the ransom. C

3:45 am – SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (Artixo Productions, 1964): Kim Stanley, Richard Attenborough. A medium kidnaps a child so she can help the police solve the crime. B+

April 27

6:00 am – ROMEO AND JULIET (MGM, 1936): Leslie Howard, Norma Shearer. It’s a decent adaptation of Shakespeare’s play, but the leads are too old to play teenagers. B- 

8:30 am – THE 39 STEPS (Gaumont, 1939): Robert Donat, Madeline Carroll. Hitchcock directed this tale of a man falsely suspected of killing a spy that travels across Scotland handcuffed to the wrist of the woman who turned him in. A

10:00 am – LONELYHEARTS (UA, 1958): Montgomery Clift, Robert Ryan, & Myrna Loy. A sensitive young reporter assigned to write an advice column gets caught up in his readers' lives. B-

12:00 pm – IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR (MGM, 1963): Elvis Presley, Joan O’Brien. Elvis helps a lost young girl at the Seattle World’s Fair and falls in love with social worker Joan. C

6:15 pm – ROYAL WEDDING (MGM, 1951): Fred Astaire, Jane Powell. A brother-and -sister musical team finds romance when they tour London for Elizabeth II’s wedding. A-

8:00 pm – TOO MANY HUSBANDS (Columbia, 1940): Jean Arthur, Fred MacMurray. When her long lost husband returns after her re-marriage a woman decides to try life with two spouses. C

9:30 pm – MY FAVORITE WIFE (RKO, 1940): Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, & Randolph Scott. Dunne is excellent as a shipwrecked woman rescued in time for her husband’s re-marriage in this screwball comedy. A

12:00 am – THE VIKING (MGM, 1929): Donald Crisp, Pauline Starke. This silent two-stripTechnicolor opus concerns two Norse brothers who vie for the throne and the same woman. B-

2:00 am – THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL (Swedish Film Institute, 1990): Kato Outinen, Elina Salo. An unskilled worker at a factory faces both parental and boy problems. B

3:15 am – ARIEL (Villealfa, 1989): Turo Pajala, Susanna Haavisto. A series of comic events befall an unfortunate coal miner. B

4:45 am – GUN CRAZY (UA, 1949): John Dall, Peggy Cummins. This ahead-of-its-time sex and guns cult classic about a loosely based on Bonnie and Clyde helped inspire the French New Wave. A+

April 28

6:15 am – WEST OF ZANZIBAR (MGM, 1928): Lon Chaney, Lionel Barrymore. A mad African dictator plots revenge on the trader who stole his wife. Silent. A

7:45 am – THE UNHOLY NIGHT (MGM, 1929): Ernest Torrence, Roland Young. A mad strangler lurks in the London fog in this early talkie. C

9:30 am – FREE AND EASY (MGM, 1930): Buster Keaton, Anita Page. A bumbling manager turns a beauty queen into a Hollywood star. C+

11:15 am – GUILTY HANDS (MGM, 1931): Lionel Barrymore, Kay Francis. D.A. Barrymore tries to frame the innocent Francis for a murder he committed. C-

12:30 pm – ARSENE LUPIN (MGM, 1932): John Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore. The notorious jewel thief tries to top himself by stealing the Mona Lisa with a police detective pursuing him. A-

2:00 pm – LOOKING FORWARD (MGM, 1933): Lionel Barrymore, Lewis Stone. A man fights to keep the family department store open during the Depression.B

3:30 pm – NIGHT FLIGHT (MGM, 1933): John Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Clark Gable, & Lionel Barrymore. This is an absorbing tale of an airline executive who throws caution to the wind to deliver serum to a Brazil hospital. A

5:00 pm – SHOULD LADIES BEHAVE? (MGM, 1933): Lionel Barrymore, Alice Brady. A young girl falls for her aunt’s lover and endures the consequences in this light comedy. C+

6:30 pm – SWEEPINGS (RKO, 1933): Lionel Barrymore, Eric Linden. Barrymore is a man who has spent his life building his business only to discover that his sons are not interested in taking it over. A-

8:00 pm – THE SUNDOWNERS (WB, 1960): Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr. An Australian sheepherder and his wife clash over their nomadic existence and their son’s future. A+

10:30 pm – THUNDER ROAD (UA, 1958): Robert Mitchum, Gene Barry  & Jacques Aubochon. Mitchum is a moonshine runner fighting a Chicago gangster trying to muscle in on his territory. B+

12:15 am – THE WONDERFUL COUNTRY (UA, 1959): Robert Mitchum, Julie London. Hired gun Mitchum, running guns between Texas and Mexico, falls for Texas Ranger wife London. B-

2:00 am – RYAN’S DAUGHTER (MGM, 1970): Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard. An Irish lass is branded a traitor when she falls for a British soldier. B+

5:30 am – ANGEL FACE (RKO, 1953): Jean Simmons, Robert Mitchum. Simmons is the evil stepdaughter who recruits Mitchum to kill off her stepmother so she can inherit the old bag’s money. C

April 29

7:15 am – I SHOT JESSE JAMES (Lippert, 1949): Preston Foster, Barbara Britton. Samuel Fuller’s take on the murder of Jesse James by his best friend Bob Ford. B

8:45 am – THE BARON OF ARIZONA (Lippert, 1950): Vincent Price, Ellen Drew. Swindler Price forges documents to make himself Baron of Arizona in this slow-moving, but interesting, tale from director Samuel Fuller. B-

10:30 am – THE STEEL HELMET (Lippert, 1951): Robert Hutton, Steve Brodie. American trapped behind North Korean lines must fight their way back. Directed by Samuel Fuller. A

12:00 pm – RUN OF THE ARROW (Universal, 1957): Rod Steiger, Ralph Meeker. Samuel Fuller directed this film about an embittered Confederate soldier (Steiger) who heads west and joins the Sioux in their fight to keep their lands. C+

1:30 pm – VERBOTEN! (Columbia, 1959): James Best, Susan Cummings. An American soldier in Postwar Germany tries to get his girlfriend’s brother out of an underground Neo-Nazi group. B-

3:00 pm – MERRILL’S MARAUDERS (WB, 1962): Jeff Chandler, Ty Hardin. Sam Fuller directed this film about the general who led his troops against the Japanese in the jungles of Burma. B

4:45 pm – SHOCK CORRIDOR (Allied Artists, 1963): Peter Breck, Constance Towers. Samuel Fuller directed this tale of a reporter who is committed to a lunatic asylum so to investigate the murder of a patient. B-

6:30 pm – THE NAKED KISS (Allied Artists, 1964): Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley. After killing her pimp, a prostitute flees to a small town in a futile search for normalcy. A-

8:00 pm – THE YOUNG LIONS (Fox, 1958): Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, & Dean Martin. A Jewish soldier faces anti-Semitism after he enlists to fight in World War II. A

11:00 pm – TIP ON A DEAD JOCKEY (MGM, 1957): Robert Taylor, Dorothy Malone. A grounded flyer gets involved with smugglers in Madrid. A-

1:00 am – THREE (UA, 1969): Antonio Fargas, Joseph Sirola. A pretty female hitchiker creates tensions for two friends touring France. C

April 30

6:00 am – ZIEGFELD GIRL (MGM, 1941): Judy Garland, Hedy Lamarr & Lana Turner It’s a tale of three girls in the Ziegfeld Follies and their romantic trials on the way to the top. B-

10:00 am – THE SECRET HEART (MGM, 1946): Claudette Colbert, Walter Pidgeon & June Allyson. Recently widowed Colbert tries to help emotionally disturbed daughter Allyson. C+

11:45 am – THE DUCHESS OF IDAHO (MGM, 1950): Esther Williams, Van Johnson. During a vacation at Sun Valley a woman tries to solve her roommate’s romantic problems and gets caught up in her own. C+

1:30 pm – GROUNDS FOR MARRIAGE (MGM, 1950): Van Johnson, Kathryn Grayson. A opera singer and her ex-husband find their romance refuses to die with their marriage. C+

3:15 pm – NANCY GOES TO RIO (MGM, 12950): Ann Sothern, Jane Powell. Mother and daughter singers compete for the same role and the same man. C+

5:00 pm – THE GREAT DIAMOND ROBBERY (MGM, 1953): Red Skelton, Cara Williams. A diamond cutter unwittingly helps a jewel thief. C

6:15 pm – HER TWELVE MEN (MGM 1954): Greer Garson, Robert Ryan. A dedicated teacher turns things around at a troubled school. C

8:00 pm – THE LETTER (WB, 1940): Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall. Bette shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense until a blackmailer comes up with incriminating evidence. A+

10:00 pm – MAN HUNT (20th Fox, 1941): Walter Pidgeon, George Sanders. A big game hunter, caught by the Nazis as he has Hitler in his sights, escapes back to England but the Nazis are following. Fritz Lang directed. A

12:00 am – HOLIDAY IN MEXICO (MGM, 1946): Walter Pidgeon, Jose Iturbi, & Jane Powell. Ambassador Pidgeon’s daughter Powell falls for famous musician Iturbi with the usual musical consequences. A-

2:15 am – IT’S A DATE (Universal, 1940): Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, & Walter Pidgeon. Mother and daughter singers compete for the same stage part and the same man. B-

4:15 am – MANDALAY (WB, 1934): Kay Francis, Ricardo Cortez, & Warner Oland. Abandoned by her boyfriend in Burma, a Russian woman (Francis) becomes a notorious café hostess. C-

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