December 15–December 22


FANNY AND ALEXANDER (December 18, 3:45 am): This 1982 film was intended to be Ingmar Bergman's last – it wasn't – and was first made as a five-plus-hour miniseries for Swedish television. The three-plus-hour film, which is shown on TCM, was actually released before the longer miniseries. It's a touching tale about two children, Fanny and Alexander, and how their joyful life is turned upside down when their father suddenly dies and their mother marries the local bishop shortly after the turn of the 20th Century. It's classic Bergman meaning it's excellent, comes highly recommended, and is brilliantly insightful into life and humanity. Yeah, it's long, but not as long as the miniseries, and the quality of the story, dialogue, scenery and costumes, the cinematography and Bergman's amazing touch makes this a worthwhile film to see.

THE MORTAL STORM (December 20, 12:15 pm): It's quite surprising that this hard-hitting anti-Nazi film was made in 1940 and released about 18 months before the United States got involved in World War II. It's an extraordinarily powerful film about what happens to a group of friends in a small Bavarian town when the Nazis take over Germany and attempt to conquer Europe. Not only is the acting outstanding, particularly Jimmy Stewart as an anti-Nazi, and Robert Young, who become a Nazi zealot, but the story is uncompromising and tragic. It's one of Stewart's finest roles. It's still as relevant today as it was in 1940.

UMBERTO D (December 15, 7:30 am): Director Vittorio DeSica was known for his realistic portrayals of life in Postwar Italy. Next to The Bicycle Thieves, this is his most important – and best – film from that time. It takes a long, hard look at the problems of the unwanted elderly, the protagonist being a retired professor of linguistics at Bologna who can no longer survive on his meager pension. Thrown out of his apartment for back rent, he wanders the streets with his faithful terrier, Flike, Be warned, this is the saddest owner and pet drama since Old Yeller, and I'm not kidding when I say that this is a five hankie picture. The film was instrumental in helping to reform the Italian pension system into something more humane. Critically lauded in the '50s, it's almost forgotten today, much like it's protagonist.
SIDE STREET (December 17, 4:15 pm): Anthony Mann directed this rather novel noir about Joe Norson (Farley Granger), a postal worker with money worries who impulsively steals $30,000 from a shady lawyer (Edmon Ryan). But, unfortunately for him, though he though he got away with it, he’s in for much more than he bargained, as the money was blackmail from an innocent man framed in a sex scandal and whom the lawyer later murdered. Soon Norson finds himself caught in a web of deceit and murder, which will include his own if he doesn’t act and act fast.  Mann takes us through a labyrinth of cross and double-cross, leading to one of the great chase endings. He uses a great supporting cast, including Cathy O’Donnell, Paul Kelly, James Craig, Paul Harvey, Charles McGraw, Whit Bissell, and Jean Hagen (in an unforgettable performance) to bring the story to life. With the aid of superb cinematography of Joseph Ruttenberg, Mann has created one of the greatest noirs, and certainly one to catch.
WE DISAGREE ON . . . PARIS, TEXAS (December 17, 10:45 pm)
ED: C-.. When David and I do this part of the Alert, he’ll send me a film to disagree about. For this week he sent our subject. But in his e-mail announcing his choice of film, he says, “Man, you don’t like Wim Wenders, do you?” Well, David, you’re wrong in your assumption. It’s not that I dislike Wim Wenders. I don’t. It’s just that I don’t think he’s all that and a bag of chips. There are some Wenders films I really like, such as HammettKings of the Road, and The End of Violence, to name a few. And if I didn’t like Paris, Texas, I would have given it a “D” or an “F” as a grade. My take on this film is that it boasts a solid cast, great cinematography, but the direction is bland, a triumph of style over substance, as the rather thin, unrealistic plot isn’t nearly enough to support the move on its own, and Wenders does a piss-poor job of fleshing out the characters and their situations. It could have used a good paring down as it’s too long and waiting for anything to happen can be quite excruciating. It’s not a bad film – just one I can watch and could care less about.
DAVID: B+. A few weeks ago, Ed and I disagreed on Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire (1987). This week, it's Wenders' haunting and fascinating 1984 movie, Paris, Texas, starring Harry Dean Stanton as Travis, who mysteriously emerges from a Texas desert after being missing for years. The viewer is immediately drawn to the stranger, who doesn't want to stop walking, and is unable to communicate well or remember much about himself. It turns out Travis' family life fell apart making him incapable of functioning. He is reunited with his brother, Walt (Dean Stockwell), who, with his wife, has raised Travis' son, Hunter (Hunter Carson). Travis and Hunter hit the road looking for Travis' ex and Hunter's mother, Jane (Nastassja Kinski), who also disappeared years ago. Travis finds her at a peepshow in which she talks about sex and anything else with strangers who can see her, but she cannot see them. The two take turns delivering fascinating and insightful monologues. The film is unique, original and somewhat bizarre, but always interesting. Wenders does a fantastic job of storytelling with this film, which isn't easy as the story he is telling is complex yet compelling. While certainly different, Wenders and his acting cast are able to make the characters seem so real, exposing the viewers to their frailties, perspectives and personalities. It is both beautiful and tragic. While I haven't seen many of Wenders' films, the ones I've seen leaves me with the strong impression that he is all that and a bag of chips.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

December 15
7:30 am – UMBERTO D (Janus Films, 1952): Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio. It’s Vittorio DeSica’s heartbreaking movie about a pensioner about to be evicted into the streets of Rome. He has only his faithful dog to comfort him. A++
9:00 am – MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (Universal, 1954): Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson. A playboy becomes a doctor to right to the wrong he did to a sightless widow. B-
11:00 am – LOVE AFFAIR (Columbia, 1939): Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer. Near-tragic misunderstandings threaten a shipboard romance. A-
4:00 pm – PENNY SERENADE (Columbia, 1941): Irene Dunne, Cary Grant. A woman on the verge of divorce recalls her heartbreaking attempts to adopt a child. A
6:15 pm – MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (Paramount, 1937): Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi. A devoted couple faces the grim realities of growing older and being shunted aside by their children. A+
8:00 pm – DESTINATION TOKYO (WB, 1943): Cary Grant, John Garfield. A U.S. submarine crew takes an assignment into Tokyo Bay to gather information for the first air raid over Tokyo. B+
10:30 pm – I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE (RKO, 1948): Cary Grant, Ann Sheridan. An Army woman stationed overseas tries to get her French-born husband back to the States. A
12:30 am – GUNGA DIN (RKO, 1939): Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, & Joan Fontaine. In 19th century India, three British soldiers and a native water bearer must stop a mass revival of the Thuggee cult. B-
2:45 am – ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (Columbia, 1939): Cary Grant, Jean Arthur. Howard Hawks directed this tale of a small freight airline risking the mountains of South America. B+
5:00 am – KISS THEM FOR ME (Fox, 1957): Cary Grant, Jayne Mansfield. Three Navy war heroes, booked on a “morale-building” vacation in San Francisco, plan to throw a wild party. C+
December 16

9:00 am – THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION (UA, 1957): Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, & Sophia Loren. A British naval officer helps Spanish peasants hauling a large cannon across country to use against Napoleon. D
1:00 pm – RAFTER ROMANCE (RKO, 1933): Ginger Rogers, Norman Foster. A couple fall in love, not realizing that they share the same apartment because they work different shifts. C
4:15 pm – THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY SOXER (RKO, 1947): Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, & Shirley Temple. A teenager’s crush on a playboy complicates matters because he loves her sister. A-
6:00 pm – CASS TIMBERLANE (MGM, 1947): Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner. An aging judge creates a scandal when he marries a woman from the wrong side of the tracks. B-
8:00 pm – THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (Fox, 1972): Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine. Passengers and crew struggle to escape an ocean liner turned upside down. B+
10:15 pm – A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (J. Arthur Rank, 1958): Kenneth More, Honor Blackman. This is a superb telling of the story of the Titanic and its ill-fated voyage. A
2:15 am – THE WRECK OF THE MARY DEARE (MGM, 1959): Gary Cooper, Charlton Heston. The skipper of a sunken ship stands trial for negligence. C+
4:15 am – THE SEA WOLF (WB, 1941): Edward G. Robinson, Ida Lupino, & John Garfield. A sadistic captain rescues the survivors of a shipwreck in this adaptation of Jack London’s story. A
December 17

6:00 am – DESTINATION MURDER (RKO, 1950): Joyce MacKensie, Albert Dekker. MacKensie infiltrates the Mob to find her father’s killer. Dekker is the leader of the Mob. C-
11:45 am – MRS. O’MALLEY AND MR. MALONE (MGM, 1950: Marjorie Main, James Whitmore. A lawyer and a widow involved with murder aboard a moving train. C
4:15 pm – SIDE STREET (MGM, 1950): Farley Granger, Cathy O’Donnell. A mailman, whose wife is going to have a baby, steals $30,000 belonging to a pair of blackmailers. A
5:45 pm – THE TATTOOED STRANGER (RKO, 1950): John Miles, Patricia White. Detectives investigate the Central Park murder of a young woman with a Marine Corps tattoo. C+
8:00 pm – THE KID (First National, 1921): Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan. Charlie Chaplin’s classic about the Tramp finding an abandoned child (Coogan). Silent. A+
9:00 pm – CITY LIGHTS (UA, 1931): Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill. The Little Tramp tries to help a blind girl to see again. Silent. A+
10:45 pm – PARIS, TEXAS (Fox, 1984): Harry Dean Stanton, Nastassja Kinski. An amnesiac tries to find the family he lost. Directed by Wim Wenders. Ratings: See above.
1:15 am – TESS (Sony Pictures, 1980): John Collin, Nastassja Kinski. Director Roman Polanski’s take on Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’UrbervillesA
4:15 am – TO THE DEVIL, A DAUGHTER (Hammer, 1976): Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, & Honor Blackman. An occult writer fights to save a friend’s daughter from Satanists. C-
December 18
6:30 am – THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA (MGM, 1942): Marsha Hunt, Richard Carlson.  A servant’s scandalous novel lands her employers in hot water. B
8:00 am – NAZI AGENT (MGM, 1942): Conrad Veidt, Ann Ayars. Great fun as Veidt plays identical twins: one a loyal German-American, and the other a Nazi official. Directed by Jules Dassin. B+
9:30 am – A LETTER FOR EVIE (MGM, 1946): Marsha Hunt, John Carroll. A timid soldier sends his buddy's picture to a romantic pen pal. C
11:15 am – NEVER ON SUNDAY (Lopert, 1960): Melina Mercouri, Jules Dassin. An American professor (Dassin) tries to reform a happy prostitute (Mercouri) in Greece. A
1:00 pm – PHAEDRA (Lopert, 1962): Melina Mercouri, Anthony Perkins & Raf Vallone. A tycoon's restless wife seduces her stepson. B
3:00 pm – THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (Columbia, 1961): Gregory Peck, David Niven, & Anthony Quinn. A team of Allied saboteurs slips behind enemy lines to take out a pair of big Nazi cannon. A-
5:45 pm – ALEXANDER THE GREAT (U.A., 1956): Richard Burton, Frederic March, & Barry Jones. It’s an epic biopic with Burton as Alexander, March as Philip of Macedonia, and Jones as Aristotle. B
8:00 pm – A CHRISTMAS CAROL (MGM, 1938): Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart. MGM’s version of the Dickens story and highly recommended. Look for June Lockhart as one of the children. A-
9:15 pm – SCROOGE (Nat’l Gen. Pictures Corp., 1970): Albert Finney, Alec Guinness. Finney is Scrooge in the film musical of the classic Dickens story. B
3:45 am – FANNY AND ALEXANDER (Sveriges Tv1, 1982): Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve. Ingmar Bergman directed this character study of two children growing up in early 20th century Sweden. A+
December 19
9:00 am – DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES (WB, 1962): Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick. Both stars received Oscar nominations in this overly dramatic tale of a husband and wife who both fight the bottle. C+
11:00 am – MISTER ROBERTS (WB, 1955): Henry Fonda, James Cagney, & Jack Lemmon. An officer aboard a supply ship tries to transfer to a fighting ship. B+
5:45 pm – THE APARTMENT (UA, 1960): Jack Lemmon, Fred MacMurray, & Shirley MacLaine. An aspiring executive lets his boss use his apartment for trysts, only to fall for the big chief's mistress. A
8:00 pm – HIGH SOCIETY (MGM, 1956): Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby & Grace Kelly.  Sinatra and Crosby shine in this musical remake of The Philadelphia StoryA-
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+
11:45 pm – THE TENDER TRAP (MGM, 1955): Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds. Sinatra is a hip bachelor who meets his match in the feisty Reynolds. C
1:45 am – EASY TO LOVE (MGM, 1953): Esther Williams, Van Johnson, & Tony Martin. Two men compete for the heart of a Cypress Gardens swimming star. C+
December 20
7:15 am – ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN HOLLYWOOD (MGM, 1945): Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Frances Rafferty. Two bumbling barbers act as agents for a talented but unknown singer. C
8:45 am – HER HIGHNESS AND THE BELLBOY (MGM, 1945): Hedy Lamarr, Robert Walker. A hotel bellboy is the unlikely choice to escort a visiting princess, over the protests of his invalid girlfriend. C+
10:45 am – CARRY ON NURSE (Anglo-Amalgamated, 1960): Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor. Patients in a surgical ward rebel against a tyrannical nurse. C+
12:15 pm – THE MORTAL STORM (MGM, 1940): James Stewart, Frank Morgan & Margaret Sullavan. An uncompromising look at what occurs in a small town in Germany when the Nazis come to power. A
2:15 pm – THE GUNFIGHTER (Fox, 1950): Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott. The fastest gun in the West tries to escape his reputation. A
3:45 pm – THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (WB, 1948): Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt. A classic about three ordinary men and what gold does to ordinary men. A+
6:00 pm – 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
8:00 pm – THE THIN MAN (MGM, 1934): William Powell, Myrna Loy. Powell and Loy as filmdom’s most celebrated couple: Nick and Nora Charles. A+
9:45 pm – AUNTIE MAME (WB, 1958): Rosalind Russell, Forrest Tucker, & Coral Browne. An orphaned young boy goes to live with his free-spirited aunt (Russell). A-
12:15 pm – FATHER OF THE BRIDE (MGM, 1950): Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor. Sweet family comedy about a doting father and the endless trials he endures when his daughter marries. B+
2:00 am – SANTA CLAUS (Cinematográfica Calderón S.A., 1959): Jose Elias Moreno, Cesareo Quezadas. With the aid of Merlin, Santa Claus must defeat the evil machinations of the devil Pitch to ruin Xmas. D+
4:00 am – NEW YEAR’S EVIL (Cannon, 1981): Roz Kelly, Kip Niven. A ridiculous slasher movie about a host of a New Year’s Eve party also attended by a maniac who kills one person every hour. D

December 21
6:00 am – THE WOMEN (MGM, 1939): Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, & Paulette Goddard. A happily married woman (Shearer) lets her catty friends talk her into divorce when her husband straysA-
8:15 am – MR. SKEFFINGTON (WB, 1944): Bette Davis, Claude Rains. A flighty beauty Davis marries stockbroker Rains for convenience and almost ruins both of their lives. A
5:45 pm – GIGI (MGM, 1958): Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier. A Parisian girl raised to be a kept woman has dreams of love and marriage. B
8:00 pm – Three cartoons: Santa’s Workshop (1932), On Ice (1935), & Chip an’ Dale (1947).
8:30 pm THE DISNEYLAND STORY (1954): The pilot episode for the long-running anthology series, Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. It presents a preview of the not-opened-at-the-time Disneyland Park and a peek at things to come on the series.
9:30 pm – THE RELUCTANT DRAGON (1941): Cartoon about a gentle dragon who would rather recite poetry than be ferocious. A
11:00 pm DAVY CROCKETT, KING OF WILD FRONTIER (1955): Legends (and myths) from the life of famed American frontiersman Davey Crockett are depicted in this feature film edited from television episodes. B
12:45 am – THE VANISHING PRAIRIE (1954): A documentary about the American Prairie as it was when vast herds of bison and elk grazed. A
2:00 am – THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN (1959): Michael Rennie, James MacArthur, & Janet Munro. A boy attempts to realize his father's dream of climbing an alpine peak known as the Citadel. A-
4:00 am – PERILOUS ASSIGNMENT (1959): An episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color looks at many of the far-off locations where Disney's crew has gone.
December 22
7:15 am – COLT .45 (WB, 1950): Randolph Scott, Ruth Roman.  A gun salesman tracks down the outlaws that stole his sample case. C+
8:30 am – DALLAS (WB, 1950): Gary Cooper, Ruth Roman. A renegade Confederate officer tries to hide his identity while tracking down those who destroyed his family home. C+
11:45 am – STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (WB, 1951): Robert Walker, Farley Granger. Hitchcock’s classic about a psycho socialite determined to drag a pro tennis player into his web of murder. A+
1:30 pm – TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY (WB, 1951): Ruth Roman, Steve Cochran. A man who spent his formative years in prison for murder is released and struggles to adjust to the outside world. C+
3:15 pm – YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (WB, 1950): Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, & Doris Day. Young trumpeter Douglas is torn between Bacall and Day. We should all have such problems. B+
8:00 pm – HIS GIRL FRIDAY (Columbia, 1940): Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell. It’s Howard Hawks’ hilarious remake of The Front Page with star reporter Russell as editor Grant’s ex-wife. A+
9:45 pm – THE AWFUL TRUTH (Columbia, 1937): Cary Grant, Irene Dunne. A divorcing couple can’t help but sabotage each other’s new romances in this fine screwball comedy. A
11:30 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
1:15 am – BRINGING UP BABY (RKO, 1938): Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn. Howard Hawks directed this great screwball comedy about a naïve professor who is pursued by a dizzy heiress with a pet leopard. B-
3:15 am – THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (MGM, 1940): Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn & James Stewart. Society lady Hepburn finds herself being wooed by ex-husband Grant and tabloid reporter Stewart. A-
5:15 am – HOLIDAY (Columbia, 1938): Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Doris Nolan, & Lew Ayers. An unhappy heiress (Hepburn) falls in love with her stodgy sister’s freethinking fiancé (Grant). C+

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  1. Village of the damned sounds like an interesting story

    1. It's definitely worth your time to watch it. It's a great film.