February 23–February 28


SEVEN DAYS IN MAY (February 26, 9:00 am): In a three-year span, director John Frankenheimer was on an incredible role: The Birdman of AlcatrazThe Manchurian Candidate both in 1962, Seven Days in May in 1964, and The Train in 1965. Burt Lancaster stars in all except The Manchurian Candidate, and is great in the three films. In Seven Days in May, he teams up with Kirk Douglas (the two co-starred in seven movies during their cinematic careers) to make a memorable and outstanding film. Lancaster is the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is leading several of its members in a conspiracy to remove the president (Fredric March) from office because he signed a nuclear disarmament treaty with the Soviet Union. Douglas is a Marine Corps colonel and military adviser who finds out about the proposed military coup and tells the president. It's among the best political thrillers ever made. An interesting end note: the shots taken outside the White House were done with the permission of President John F. Kennedy (those scenes were done in 1963 before his assassination on Nov. 22 of that year), but Pentagon officials weren't cooperative, refusing to permit Douglas to be filmed walking into that building. The movie premiered  in Washington, D.C., on February 12, 1964, less than three months after JFK's murder.

THE FISHER KING (February 28, 4:00 am): This is an excellent film that masterfully blends comedy and tragedy thanks to superb acting from Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams, a creative screenplay by Richard LaGravenese, and Terry Gillam, who doesn't get the praise he deserves for his talents, as its director. Bridges is a former shock jock whose on-air comments leads a listener to commit a mass murder at a restaurant. Unable to get over the tragedy, he attempts suicide only to be mistaken for a homeless guy by a group of thugs who assault him. He's saved by Robin Williams, who is homeless and apparently deranged. Bridges finds out that Williams' condition was caused by the death of his wife at the hands of the guy who opened fire at the restaurant years earlier. Williams is so lost and shaken by his wife's death that his life's mission find the Holy Grail and in his mind he is tormented by a red knight trying to stop his quest. It's a beautiful film with a great ending.


BEING THERE (February 24, 10:00 pm): It’s one of the great political satires with Peter Sellers as Chance, an illiterate gardener who knows nothing except what he sees on television. Dispossessed when the master of the house dies he wanders the streets until picked up by Eve Rand (Shirley MacLaine), who is the wife of influential industrialist Benjamin Rand (Melvyn Douglas). Ben Rand and his circle take Chance’s simple utterances as profound wisdom, and he rises to become an influential pundit in Washington. Sellers is brilliant as Chance and it is sort of refreshing to see him assay only one role at a time. But the real bravura performance comes from MacLaine, who plays the sex-starved wife. She excels in several difficult scenes that, if not handled right, would bring the film down. That she wasn’t nominated for an Academy is surprising, and yet expected.

THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (February 25, 2:00 pm): An excellent black comedy from writer Paddy Chayefsky and director Arthur Hiller starring James Garner as Charlie Madison, a WWII “dog robber,” one who procures various goodies for his superiors in the Navy. Part personal assistant and part black marketeer, he procures whatever scatterbrained Admiral William Jessup (Melvyn Douglas) desires, from restocks of his liquor cabinet to personal massages. When he runs into prim and proper war widow Emily Barham (Julie Andrews), his life changes - and hers as well. She is totally entranced by Charlie, whose proclamation of cowardice appeals to a woman who lost a husband, father, and brother in the war. Just when things couldn’t be better, Charlie and “love ‘em and leave ‘em” roommate “Bus” Cummings (James Coburn) are assigned to land at Omaha Beach on D-Day to film the landing for public relations purposes. A great plot and a great cast makes this film one to catch.

WE DISAGREE ON . . . THE ENGLISH PATIENT (February 28, 1:00 am)

ED: C. The English Patient is a long (though it seems even longer), intensely involving, but rather emotionally shallow movie. It is the perfect example of what happens when filmmakers attempt to adapt an extremely dense and layered novel: they can only capture the superficial, intellectual aspects of the plot while the inner life of the book remains beyond their reach. I’ve read the novel by Michael Ondaatje’s Booker Prize-winning novel. It is a wonderful story about how the pressures of war shake up conventional notions of personal betrayal, loyalty, integrity, and even identity, none of which is adequately captured in the film to the depth required in the novel. Instead, we get a fairly conventional romantic melodrama spiced up with adultery that was filmed amidst the sumptuous backgrounds of pre-war North Africa and the end of the war in Italy. Ralph Finnes is the title character, the survivor of a fiery plane crash, who is being attended to by nurse Juliette Binoche, who lost her closest friends in the war and is concentrating on Fiennes, possibly as a way to some sort of solace. It later turns out that “the English patient” is really a Hungarian count and mapmaker who fell in love with a married woman. There sub-plots concerning Willem Dafoe, a wounded Canadian who may have been sold out to the Nazis by Finnes, and two British bomb-disposal experts, one of whom has a fling with Binoche. Even at 162 minutes, there’s not enough time to fully elaborate the plot and the film seems rushed as a result, and some of the secondary characters do not get the attention they need to get the movie over. This, combined with the fact that much of the novel takes place within the characters allows for only a superficial reading. This is the sort of novel that demands the multi-part mini-series approach Masterpiece Theater is famous for bringing forth. As for the movie, sit back and enjoy the scenery.

DAVID: A-. For years I avoided seeing this 1996 film. While it won nine Oscars, including Best Picture, I was apprehensive to watch as it's 162 minutes long and people I know who saw it, not just limited to Ed, didn't think that highly of the movie. But I had a free month of Amazon Prime in December and noticed it was available at no cost so I took the plunge. Yes, it's really long – like many epic movies – so I saw it over two viewings. Unlike Ed, I've never read the book so I don't know what I missed. You have to pay close attention to the film or you could get confused at times. But overall, I found The English Patient to be an exceptional film for the storyline, the acting and the amazing cinematography. It's told in a series of flashbacks that are flawlessly linked together. I can't stress how exceptional the actors are in this film. Ralph Finnes as the title character, who's actually a Hungarian count, is great and is able to tell a lot just by the expression on his face; a face that is scarred from burns he suffered in a plane crash. Juliette Binoche as his loyal nurse, who latches onto the dying patient, is fantastic as is Kristin Scott Thomas as the married woman who falls in love with Finnes' character. Perhaps the best performance comes from Naveen Andrews, who plays a Sikh who is a bomb diffusing expert and Binoche's love interest. The desperate attempt by Finnes to get back to the dying Thomas is absolutely heartbreaking and extraordinary moving. The length of the film kept me from watching it for 18 years, but I was very pleased that I gave it a chance as it's a memorable movie.

Schedule Subject to Change (All times Eastern)

February 23

8:00 am – A PATCH OF BLUE (MGM, 1965): Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters & Elizabeth Hartman. A blind white girl falls in love with a black man. A

10:00 am – KING’S ROW (WB, 1941): Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings and Ronald Reagan. The dark side and hypocrisy of turn-of-the-century American life is seen through the eyes of five children. C+

12:15 am – OF MICE AND MEN (U.A., 1940): Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney, Jr. Lewis Milestone directed this top-notch adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel about a drifter and the dim-witted pal he tries to protect. A

2:15 pm – EAST OF EDEN (WB, 1955): James Dean, Richard Davalos. Elia Kazan directed this story of two brothers, Caleb (Dean) and Aron (Davalos), their lives, and their loves. B

8:00 pm – ANNIE HALL (U.A., 1977): Woody Allen, Diane Keaton. Can neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer and equally neurotic aspiring singer Annie Hall find love? A

10:00 pm – THE GOODBYE GIRL (WB, 1977): Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason. A dancer discovers her runaway boyfriend as sublet her apartment to an aspiring actor. B+

12:00 am – ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN (WB, 1976): Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford. Hoffman and Redford are reporters Bernstein and Woodward in this re-creation of the Watergate scandal. B+

2:30 am – BARRY LYNDON (WB, 1975): Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson & Patrick Magee. An Irish rogue cheats his way to the top of 18th-century British society. A-

February 24

6:00 am – FINIAN’S RAINBOW (WB, 1968): Fred Astaire, Petula Clark, & Tommy Steele. A leprechaun follows the Irishman who stole his pot of gold to the U.S. South. C-

8:30 am – THE 7 FACES OF DR. LAO (MGM, 1964): Tony Randall, Barbara Eden. A Chinese showman uses his magical powers to save a Western town from itself. B+

10:30 am – THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (UA, 1940): Conrad Veidt, Sabu. Sabu must battle monsters and an evil wizard to restore the King of Baghdad back to his throne. Filmed in Technicolor. A

12:30 pm – KISMET (MGM, 1944): Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich. From the Arabian Nights: the king of the beggars enters high society to help his daughter marry a handsome prince. B-

2:30 pm – A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM (WB, 1935): James Cagney, Joe E. Brow,n & Mickey Rooney. Director Max Reinhardt’s staging of the Shakespeare play. Cagney (Bottom) and Rooney (Puck) are excellent. B-

6:30 pm – IT HAPPENED TOMORROW (UA, 1944): Dick Powell, Linda Darnell, & Jack Oakie. A newspaper editor writes headlines that predict the future. A

8:00 pm – A LITTLE ROMANCE (WB, 1979): Laurence Olivier, Diane Lane. Teenagers elope with the help of an aging pickpocket. B+

10:00 pm – BEING THERE (Lorimar/U.A., 1979): Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine. The bigwigs and their political circle take a dispossessed idiot gardener’s ramblings as wisdom. A+

12:30 am – KRAMER VS. KRAMER (Columbia, 1979): Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep. When his wife leaves him, an ad executive gets a crash course in parenting. A-

2:30 am – THE GREAT SANTINI (Orion, 1979): Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner, & Michael O’Keefe. A marine has problems adjusting to domestic life during peacetime. A

4:30 am – 10 (Orion, 1979): Dudley Moore, Bo Derek, Julie Andrews, & Brian Dennehy. In the throes of a midlife crisis, a Hollywood songwriter becomes infatuated with a blonde beauty. B

February 25

8:00 am – WHAT NEXT, CORPORAL HARGROVE? (MGM, 1945): Robert Walker, Keenan Wynn. Hargrove and his con-man friend take France by storm. C+

10:00 am – TAKE THE HIGH GROUND (MGM, 1951): Karl Malden, Richard Widmark. No-nonsense drill sergeants train raw recruits for the Korean War. B

12:00 pm – ONCE UPON A HONEYMOON (RKO, 1942): Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, & Walter Slezak. Radio correspondent Grant tries to rescue burlesque queen Rogers from her marriage to a Nazi official. B-

2:00 pm – THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (MGM, 1964): James Garner, Julie Andrews. British war widow Andrews falls for opportunistic Naval officer Garner during World War II. A-

4:15 pm – HERE COMES THE NAVY (WB, 1934)James Cagney, Pat O’Brien. By the numbers story of a pilot who joins the Navy for the wrong reasons, but finds romance and heroism. C-

5:45 pm – MISTER ROBERTS (WB, 1955): Henry Fonda, James Cagney, & Jack Lemmon. An officer aboard a supply ship tries to transfer to a fighting ship. B+

8:00 pm – ARTHUR (Orion, 1981): Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud. A childlike millionaire must choose between his fortune and marrying a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. B

9:45 pm – COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER (Universal, 1980): Sissy Spacek, Beverly D’Angelo. Spacek won the Oscar for her portrayal of country singer Loretta Lynn. B+

12:00 am – OUT OF AFRICA (Universal, 1985): Meryl Streep, Robert Redford. True-life story of Karen Blixen, a woman trapped in a loveless marriage, who finds happiness with an adventurer. C+

2:45 am – FAME (MGM, 1980): Irene Cara, Eddie Barth, & Lee Curreri. Students at a performing arts high school struggle with personal problems. A-

5:00 am – GLORIA (MGM, 1980): Gena Rowlands, Buck Henry. A mild-mannered accountant has been secretly working for the Mob. B-

February 26

9:00 am – SEVEN DAYS IN MAY (Paramount, 1964): Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster & Frederic March. John Frankenheimer’s thriller about a military officer who discovers a coup is being planned. A

11:00 am – Z (Reggane Films, 1969): Yves Montand, Irene Papas, & Jean-Louis Trintignant. A political assassination uncovers a hotbed of corruption. A+       

1:30 pm – MEET JOHN DOE (Columbia, 1941): Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck. A reporter’s fraudulent story makes a tramp into a national political hero and a pawn of big business. A-

3:45 pm – MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (Columbia, 1938): James Stewart, Jean Arthur. A naïve young man appointed to fill out a Senate term winds up turning the Senate upside down. A

8:00 pm – ABSENCE OF MALICE (Columbia, 1981): Paul Newman, Sally Field. An ambitious reporter unwittingly slanders a businessman under federal investigation. A

10:00 pm – THE VERDICT (Fox, 1982): Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, & James Mason. An alcoholic lawyer struggles to redeem himself by pursuing a high-stakes malpractice case. A

12:15 am – CHARIOTS OF FIRE (Enigma Productions, 1981): Ben Cross, Ian Charleson. Two long-distance runners, one a devout Scottish missionary, the other a Jewish student, compete at the 1924 Olympics. C-

2:30 am – THE BIG CHILL (Sony, 1983): Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, & William Hurt. A friend’s death brings together a group of college activists. B+

4:30 am – DINER (MGM, 1982): Kevin Bacon, Steve Guttenberg. Barry Levinson directed this film about the lives of a group of friends who meet at a Baltimore diner. B-

February 27

6:30 am – JULIUS CAESAR (MGM, 1953): James Mason, John Gielgud & Marlon Brando: Excellent filmed adaptation of Shakespeare’s play with an outstanding cast. A+

8:45 am – DISRAELI (WB, 1929): George Arliss, Joan Bennett. Arliss is the famous English statesman in this interesting biopic. Prehistoric, but Arliss is fascinating to watch. A-

10:15 am – KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE (MGM, 1953): Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, & Mel Ferrer. Ferrer is Arthur and Taylor is Lancelot in this adaptation of the tales of the Round Table. C+

12:15 pm – THE LION IN WINTER (Avco Embassy, 1968): Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, & Anthony Hopkins. King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine argue over the choice of an heir. A+

2:30 pm – 55 DAYS AT PEKING (Allied Artists, 1963): Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner. Nicholas Ray directed this epic about an American major leading the defense during the Boxer Rebellion. C+

5:15 pm – THE EMIGRANTS ( Svensk Filmindustri, 1971): Max Von Sydow, Liv Ullmann. An impoverished farming couple decides to move from Sweden to the U.S. in the 19th century. A

8:00 pm – RUNNING ON EMPTY (WB, 1988): Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti & River Phoenix. A family of fugitives deal with their son's growing independence. A-

10:15 pm – GANDHI (Columbia, 1982): Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud. Richard Attenborough directed this sweeping biopic of the man who gained India her independence. Kingsley is stunning. A+

1:30 am – GLORY (Tri-Star, 1989): Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, & Denzel Washington. Robert Gould Shaw leads the US Civil War's first all-black volunteer company in the Civil War. A+

3:45 am – A CRY IN THE DARK (Australian Film Comm./WB, 1988): Meryl Streep, Sam Neill. An Australian mother is suspected of murder when wild dogs carry off her baby. A

February 28

6:00 am – THE WINDOW (RKO, 1949): Barbara Hale, Paul Stewart. A boy known throughout the neighborhood as a liar can’t get anyone to believe him when he witnesses a real murder. A

7:15 am – NIGHT MUST FALL (MGM, 1937): Robert Montgomery, Dame May Whitty, & Rosalind Russell. A charming psycho worms his way into a wealthy widow’s house, but her niece isn’t as easily taken in. A-

9:15 am – KIND LADY (MGM, 1935): Aline MacMahon, Basil Rathbone. A con man and his entourage move in on a trusting old lady, blackmailing her and holding her prisoner. B

10:45 am – WAIT UNTIL DARK (WH, 1967): Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, & Richard Crenna. A blind woman fights against drug smugglers who've invaded her home. B

12:45 pm – THE NARROW MARGIN (RKO, 1952): Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor. A tough cop meets his match when he must accompany a gangster’s moll on a tense train ride. A+

2:00 pm – 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+

3:45 pm – SHADOW OF A DOUBT (Universal, 1943): Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright. A young girl fears her favorite uncle may be a serial killer. A+

8:00 pm – A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT (Sony, 1992): Craig Sheffer, Brad Pitt & Tom Skerritt. A preacher's sons, one serious, one wild, look out for each other while growing up in rural Montana. A-

10:30 pm – A FEW GOOD MEN (Sony, 1992): Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise & Demi Moore. When a Marine dies on a US Navy base, two fellow Marines stand trial for murder. A

1:00 am – THE ENGLISH PATIENT (Miramax, 1996): Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche. A man dying from third-degree burns remembers a tragic wartime romance. Ratings: See above.

4:00 am – THE FISHER KING (Tristar, 1991): Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, & Mercedes Ruehl. A DJ tries to help a homeless madman whose life he had unwittingly ruined. B+

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