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June 23-June 30

DAVID’S BEST BETS:

TOP HAT (June 23, 1:00 pm): As a general rule, I don't like musicals, especially those with dancing. (Don't confuse that with movies with great music in which people don't suddenly break out in song. I like a lot of those.) So what's different about Top Hat? At the top of the list is Fred Astaire. As with most musicals, the plot is secondary. He's a dancer who wakes up the woman (Ginger Rogers) living in an apartment below him with his tap dancing. He falls in love, there are a few misunderstandings, and the two eventually get together. Astaire has great charisma and charm, and his dancing is so natural looking. He makes it look as easy as walking. The storyline is typical of a good screwball comedies from the 1930s (this one came out in 1935). But it's the dancing and the memorable songs, written by Irving Berlin, such as "Cheek to Cheek" and "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails," that make this movie a must-see and among my favorite musicals.

CAGED (June 26, 2:45 pm): Unlike nearly all the others in the unusual but often-visited women-in-prison film genre, Caged is well acted. Eleanor Parker was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar as the young innocent Marie Allen, Agnes Moorehead is great as warden Ruth Benton, and Hope Emerson was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as the deliciously evil matron Evelyn Harper. Almost anything bad you can imagine happens to Marie: her new husband is killed in a robbery, she ends up in prison because she is waiting in the getaway car, she's pregnant while serving her sentence, she's victimized by other inmates and Harper, she has to give up her baby for adoption, and finally becomes bitter and hardened from all of her bad experiences. The story is similar to other women-in-prison movies minus the T&A. We still get a shower scene (no nudity as this is during the Code era) and the stereotypical prison lesbian. But there's a huge difference between Caged and the women-in-prison films of the 1970s. It's not only the excellent acting, but the powerful dialogue and actual plot – it was nominated for a Best Writing Oscar – that makes this gritty, stark, realistic film stand out among others in the genre.

ED’S BEST BETS:

THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (June 27, 12:30 pm): This is the original – and the best – version of James M. Cain’s classic novel (which also inspired Albert Camus, by the way). When it comes to noir, one would think that the MGM gloss was off-putting, but I think it actually helps the film. Garfield has never been better and Turner has never been more gorgeous. Not only can we see that they’re going to hook up, we can understand why they must hook up. The performances from the supporting cast are superb, the photography by Sidney Wagner is sharp and inviting, and Tay Garnett’s direction workmanlike, as he keeps the characters and the story in constant play. Despite the complaints of the changes in Cain’s original story (for censorship purposes), the film still outdoes the 1981 Nicholson-Lange remake in terms of the heat between the stars, not to mention the fact that Turner, while hardly a serious actress, ran rings around Lange’s performance.

ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (June 28, 2:15 pm): A gruesome and unsettling adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau starring Charles Laughton at his most fiendish as the mad doctor isolated on a remote island who is conducting experiments transforming jungle animals ostensibly into human brings, but in reality coming up with half-human abominations. Moreau's theory is that evolution can be sped up through experimental skin grafting. The man-beasts who populate the island know his laboratory as “the house of pain.” When Richard Arlen, the sole survivor of a shipwreck, arrives at the island Moreau wastes no time in trying to mate him with his most successful creation, a panther woman (Kathleen Burke). But Moreau’s empire comes crashing down after the arrival of Captain Donahue (Paul Hurst) and Parker's fiancee Ruth (Leila Hyams) who have come for the missing Arlen. The finale is equally gruesome as Moreau gets a taste of his own medicine from his creations. Banned in England, many film historians credit it with helping to speed enforcement of the Code.

WE AGREE ON ... THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (June 28, 1:00 pm)

ED: A. The original, and of the 18 remakes (!), still the best version based on the classic short story by Richard Connell. Said to be the second most used plot device (boy meets girl is the first), it’s about psychopathic hunter Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks), who has hunted every species on earth except for one: Man. On his isolated island, surrounded by coral reefs, he hunts any luckless person who happens to crash on his shores, adding them to his trophy case. When renowned big-game hunter Robert Rainsford (Joel McCrea) is marooned there, the game takes on a new life, as McCrea finds himself turned from honored guest to hunted prey. Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong are brother and sister, previous shipwreck survivors who are kept on the estate at Zaroff’s pleasure. Director Ernest B. Schoedsack keeps the action and the suspense moving without a let up. (Irving Pichel is listed as co-director, but it was Schoedsack’s film. Pichel worked more as a dialogue director.) Banks makes an excellent Zaroff, and when photographed at certain angles by cinematographer Henry W. Gerrard, he makes for an even more disturbing presence. (Banks had been wounded in the First World War resulting in a partially paralyzed face on his right side.) McCrea is his usual excellent self and Wray adds the required sex appeal. If the sets look somewhat familiar, it should come as no surprise, for the film was shot at the same time as King Kong (which was released later due to the time needed for special effects). One reason Schoedsack was interested in making the film was to show the futility and cruelty of hunting, and what better way for him to make his point? A note to bad film fans: Bloodlust, the 1961 remake, is featured as an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

DAVID: AThis is a fast-moving 63-minute movie that has famous big-game hunter and writer Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) on the other end of the hunt. He is the lone survivor of a yacht that wrecks – we later find out it's not the first and it's no accident – and blows up in a pretty good bit of special effects for a 1932 film. After everyone else on the yacht is eaten by sharks, Rainsford ends up swimming ashore to a small island owned by Russian expatriate Count Zaroff (played deliciously evil by Leslie Banks), who lives there with a few henchmen and a pack of hunting dogs. Zaroff recognizes Rainsford and introduces him to two other previously shipwrecked guests, siblings Eve Trowbridge (Fay Wray) and her very drunk and clueless brother Martin (Robert Armstrong). That Martin gets it about 25 minutes or so into the film is a good thing as Armstrong's drunk schtick is the lone annoyance of this film. It turns out Zaroff is also a big game hunter, hunting the biggest game of all – he says ominously as he rubs the scar on the top of his head – man. He wants Rainsford to join him, but Rainsford is outraged and refuses. So the would-be hunter becomes the hunted. He and Eve are sent to the jungle to see if they can survive what Zaroff calls "outdoor chess." The action during the hunting part of the movie, filmed at night on the King Kong set, is nonstop and a lot of fun to watch. As Ed wrote, the storyline has been remade countless times, including episodes of TV comedies Gilligan's Island and Get Smart.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

June 23

7:45 am – I COULD GO ON SINGING (U.A., 1963): Judy Garland, Dirk Bogarde. Garland’s final film finds her as an American singing star in London trying to reclaim the son she gave up for adoption. C+

9:30 am – RIDE THE WILD SURF (Columbia, 1964): Fabian, Tab Hunter & Shelley Fabares. Three young surfers travel to Hawaii to find love and the perfect wave. D-

11:30 am – FLYING DOWN TO RIO (RKO, 1933): Dolores Del Rio, Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers. Astaire and Rogers enliven this otherwise ordinary story of a bandleader who finds love and success in Brazil. B-

1:00 pm – TOP HAT (RKO, 1935): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. Quintessential with a great Irving Berlin score highlighted by Fred and Ginger’s dancing to “Cheek to Cheek” It’s one for the ages. A+

2:45 pm – SWING TIME (RKO, 1936): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. Astaire and Rogers sing and dance to the music of Jerome Kern in this nearly flawless film. A+

4:45 pm – CAREFREE (RKO, 1938): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. A psychiatrist falls in love with a woman he’s supposed to be steering to someone else. A-

6:15 pm – THE STORY OF VERNON AND IRENE CASTLE (RKO, 1939): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, In their last teaming for RKO, Fred and Ginger play the famed early 20th century American dancing team. B+

8:00 pm – ROME ADVENTURE (WB, 1962): Troy Donahue, Angie Dickinson & Suzanne Pleshette. A rebellious teacher moves to Rome and finds love. C+

10:15 pm – COME SEPTEMBER (Universal, 1961): Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida. A womanizing tycoon ends up chaperoning a group of American girls that have rented his Italian villa. B-

12:30 am – BUONA SERA, MRS. CAMPBELL (UA, 1969): Gina Lollobrigida, Shelley Winters. During a military reunion, three veterans discover they've been sending support payments for the same child. C

2:45 am – ROMAN HOLIDAY (Paramount, 1953): Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn. A runaway princess in Rome falls for a reporter who knows her true identity. B+

5:00 am – GIDGET GOES TO ROME (Columbia, 1963): Cindy Carol, James Darren. Surfer girl Gidget leaves California beaches behind for a romantic vacation in Rome. C-

June 24

7:00 am – MAN OF ARAN (Gaumont/British Picture Corp.): Colman King, Maggie Dirrane. Cameras follow Aran Islanders as they cope with the rough terrain and even rougher seas. A+

10:30 am – AFTER MIDNIGHT WITH BOSTON BLACKIE (Columbia, 1943): Chester Morris, George E. Stone. Arrested for murder, Blackie escapes to save an old girlfriend from mobsters. B-

12:00 pm – IT’S A BIG COUNTRY (MGM, 1952): Ethel Barrymore, Gary Cooper. Seven stories celebrate the glorious diversity of American life. C+ 

3:30 pm – FORT APACHE (RKO, 1948): Henry Fonda, John Wayne. Fonda is an arrogant cavalry officer who alienates his troops and almost causes their annihilation in a showdown with Cochise. A-

6:00 pm – HEARTS OF THE WEST (MGM, 1975): Jeff Bridges, Andy Griffith & Alan Arkin. Bridges is great as a dime store Western writer whose wish to be a cowboy star comes true. B+

8:00 pm – REAR WINDOW (Paramount, 1954): James Stewart, Grace Kelly. Stewart is a photographer with a broken leg who uncovers a murder while spying on the other tenants in his building. A+

10:15 pm – 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

11:45 am – WITNESS TO MURDER (UA, 1954): Barbara Stanwyck, George Sanders. A woman fights to convince the police that she witnessed a murder. A-

1:30 am – THE SKULL MURDER MYSTERY (WB, 1932): John Hamilton, Richard Wang. When the skeleton of a young man is dug up in an alley, a mysterious Chinese merchant and his eccentric upstairs tenants come under suspicion. C-

4:15 am – WEEKEND (Grove Press, 1967): Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne. A couple's weekend vacation lands them in the middle of a society's collapse. Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. B+

June 25

6:00 am – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (MGM, 1940): Laurence Olivier, Greer Garson. Jane Austen's comic classic about the five Bennett sisters, all out to nab husbands in 19th-century England. A+

10:00 am – HIGH WALL (MGM, 1948): Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter & Herbert Marshall. Shrink Totter proves flier Taylor innocent of the murder of his wife. B+

12:00 pm – STORMY WEATHER (MGM, 1943): Lena Horne, Bill Robinson, & Cab Calloway. A relationship develops between an aspiring dancer and a popular singer. A 

6:00 pm – PLACES IN THE HEART (Columbia, 1984): Sally Field, John Malkovich. A farmer’s widow fights to keep her land during the Depression. B+

8:00 pm – THE STREET WITH NO NAME (Fox, 1948): Mark Stevens, Richard Widmark & Lloyd Nolan. A young FBI agent infiltrates a criminal mob. A

10:00 pm – THE SNAKE PIT (20th Century Fox, 1948): Olivia DeHavilland, Mark Stevens. A woman finds herself in an insane asylum with no clue as to how she got there. A

12:00 am – SCARAMOUCHE (Metro, 1923): Lloyd Ingraham, Alice Terry & Ramon Novarro. A French rebel masquerades as a clown to avenge his friend’s murder. Silent. B+

2:30 am – YOYO (Magna Pictures, 1967): Pierre Etaix, Claudine Auger. The son of a ruined millionaire and horsewoman becomes a clown and restores their fortune. A

4:30 am – THE CIRCUS CLOWN (WB, 1934): Joe E. Brown, Patricia Ellis. A young man defies his father’s wishes and joins the circus. C

June 26

6:00 am – THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON (WB, 1942): Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland. Flynn is George Custer in this romanticized, but well-done, biopic about the man who lost the battle of Little Big Horn. B

8:30 am – PRIDE OF THE MARINES (WB, 1945): John Garfield, Eleanor Parker. Garfield is a blinded U.S. Marine trying to adjust to civilian life. B

10:45 am – SCARAMOUCHE (MGM, 1952): Stewart Granger, Janet Leigh & Eleanor Parker. During the French Revolution, a young man (Granger) masquerades as an actor to avenge his friend’s murder. B-

2:45 pm – CAGED (WB, 1950): Eleanor Parker, Hope Emerson & Agnes Moorehead. It’s the Godmother of all women-in-prison movies. B+

4:30 pm – ESCAPE ME NEVER (WB, 1947): Errol Flynn, Ida Lupino & Eleanor Parker. A composer forsakes his innocent bride to romance his brother's fiancee. D+

8:00 pm – PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES (Paramount, 1964): William Holden, Audrey Hepburn. A Hollywood producer hires a beautiful secretary to keep his drunken screenwriter on track. D+

10:00 pm – FUNNY FACE (Paramount, 1957): Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire. A fashion photographer turns a Greenwich Village unknown into an international supermodel. A

12:00 am – ALWAYS (Universal, 1989): Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter & John Goodman. A downed pilot plays celestial wingman to his successor in love and flying. Remake of A Guy Named JoeC+

2:15 am – WAR AND PEACE (Paramount, 1956): Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda. A young Russian girl fights to save her family during Napoleon's invasion of her homeland. B-

June 27

6:00 am – ROBIN AND MARIAN (WB, 1976): Sean Connery, Audrey Hepburn & Robert Shaw. An older Robin Hood returns to home to renew his relationship with Marian and battle the Sheriff of Nottingham. C+

8:00 am – WHAT PRICE HOLLYWOOD? (RKO, 1932): Constance Bennett, Lowell Sherman. A dipso director whose career is fading (Sherman) helps a waitress (Bennett) achieve stardom. B+

9:45 am – THE CASE OF THE CURIOUS BRIDE (WB, 1935): Warren William, Margaret Lindsay. Perry Mason aids a young woman whose supposedly dead husband suddenly returns to life. C+

11:15 am – NIGHT WAITRESS (RKO, 1936): Margot Grahame, Gordon Jones. A woman just released from prison gets into trouble at her new job. C

12:30 pm – THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE (MGM, 1946): John Garfield, Lana Turner. A drifter and a married woman fall in love and kill her husband, unleashing consequences they had not foreseen. A+

6:00 pm – ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (WB, 1974): Kris Kristofferson, Ellen Burstyn. A widow with dreams of a singing career ends up waiting tables in Phoenix. Directed by Scorsese. A-

8:00 pm – ROLLERBALL (MGM, 1975): James Caan, Ralph Richardson. The star of a future bloodthirsty sport tries to clean up the game before it kills him. B

10:15 pm – COUNTDOWN (WB, 1967): James Caan, Joanna Moore & Robert Duvall. Desperate to reach the moon, an astronaut goes on a one-way voyage until Apollo is ready and able to bring him back. B

12:15 pm – HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT (MGM, 1980): James Caan, Jill Eikenberry. True story of a divorced father in search of his children when his ex-wife enters the witness relocation program. C

2:15 am – RABBIT, RUN (WB, 1970): James Caan, Anjanette Comer.  Unhappy with his life, a former high school athlete leaves his wife for another woman. C

4:00 am – FREEBIE AND THE BEAN (WB, 1974): Alan Arkin, James Caan. Two police detectives try to save the crook they're tailing from a hit man. D+

June 28

6:00 am – LAST OF THE PAGANS (MGM, 1935): Mala, Lotus & Telo A. Tematua. Two South Sea islanders fight a series of natural disasters to be together. C+ 

9:00 am – MEN IN EXILE (WB, 1937): Dick Purcell, June Travis. Framed for a robbery he didn't commit, a man flees to a Caribbean island and gets involved with a woman, gunrunners and murder. C  

10:15 am – WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH SEAS (MGM, 1928): Monte Blue, Raquel Torres. An alcoholic doctor runs off to Tahiti, where he finds love with a native girl. B

11:30 am – WHITE ZOMBIE (U.A. 1932): Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy. Zombie master Lugosi menaces newlyweds on a Haitian plantation. Though slow moving, it’s worth a look. B

1:00 pm – THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (RKO, 1932): Joel McCrea, Leslie Banks. Noted big game hunter McCrea is shipwrecked on an island and hunted by Count Zaroff (Banks). A

2:15 pm – ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (Paramount, 1933): Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi. Laughton is a mad doctor who turns wild animals into human monsters in this truly gruesome Pre-Code film. A

3:30 pm – THE LOST CONTINENT (Fox/Hammer, 1968): Eric Porter, Hildegard Knef. When a tramp steamer is attacked by a mass of living seaweed, the occupants are forced to take refuge on a strange island. C+

5:00 pm – ISLE OF THE DEAD (RKO, 1945): Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew. This Val Lewton tale about the plague during the Balkan Wars.is generally considered among his worst. D+

8:00 pm – THE BIG COUNTRY (U.A., 1958): Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston. Big ranchers Peck and Heston feud over water rights in this classic Western directed by William Wyler. B+

11:00 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

2:00 am – CIMMARON (MGM, 1960): Glenn Ford, Maria Schell & Anne Baxter. A pioneer couple plays a major role in the settling of Oklahoma. C+

June 29

8:30 am – MAKE ME A STAR (WB, 1932): Joan Blondell, Stuart Merton, ZaSu Pitts, & Ben Turpin. A small town delivery boy travels to Hollywood in hopes of becoming a star. Directed by William Beaudine. C- 

10:15 am –  MAN HUNT (RKO, 1933): Junior Durkin, Charlotte Henry, & Mrs. Wallace Reid. A teen detective tries to help a jewel thief's daughter. C

11:30 am – NO MARRIAGE TIES (RKO, 1933): Richard Dix, Elizabeth Allen. After he drinks himself out of his newspaper job, a reporter becomes a tycoon. C+

2:30 pm – CHATTERBOX (RKO, 1936): Anne Shirley, Phillips Holmes. This mundane programmer stars Shirley as the daughter of a famous actress and her attempts at a career on the stage. D

4:00 pm – THE BIG GAME (RKO, 1936): Philip Huston, James Gleason & June Travis. A quarterback takes on gangsters out to control the college sports scene. C

5:30 pm – M’LISS (RKO, 1936): Anne Shirley, John Beal. A young innocent searches a rough mining town for her drunken father. D+ 

6:45 pm – THE WITNESS CHAIR (RKO, 1936): Ann Harding, Walter Abel. A woman lets her lover stand trial for the murder she committed. C-

8:00 pm – WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (WB, 1966): Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor. A bitter aging couple uses a young couple to fuel their emotional pain towards each other. C-

10:30 pm – THE LOVED ONE (MGM, 1965): Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, & John Gielgud. A filmed adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s wicked satire of the funeral business in Southern California. A

1:00 am – THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY (MGM, 1982): Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver. Two American journalists find themselves in danger during the Indonesian revolution. B 

3:15 am – TORCH SONG TRILOGY (New Line, 1988): Anne Bancroft, Matthew Broderick. Nine years in the life of a NYC gay man - his love life, his relationship with his mother, and his hopes to adopt a son. A

5:15 am – VALENTINO (UA, 1977): Rudolph Nureyev, Leslie Caron & Michelle Phillips. Ken Russell directs this biopic about the famed silent star. C+ 

June 30

7:30 am – CABARET (Allied Artists, 1972): Liza Minnelli, Michael York, & Helmut Griem. Minnelli is girlie club entertainer who romances two men while the Nazis rise to power around them. A

9:45 am – THE CATALINA CAPER (Crown International, 1967): Tommy Kirk, Del Moore. A group of teens tries to foil a group of crooks looking for a stolen scroll. Featured on MST 3000D

12:00 pm – ADA (MGM, 1961): Susan Hayward, Dean Martin. Ex-call girl Hayward marries folksy politician Martin and is later a great help to him in fighting corrupt officials in the state. B

2:00 pm – I’LL CRY TOMORROW (MGM, 1955): Susan Hayward, Richard Conte. Hayward stars in this true story of singer-actress Lillian Roth, who spent much of her career battling alcoholism. A

4:00 pm – THE LUSTY MEN (RKO, 1952): Susan Hayward, Robert Mitchum, & Arthur Kennedy. A faded rodeo star becomes a mentor for a younger rider, but falls for his wife. A-

6:00 pm – DAVID AND BATHSHEBA (Fox, 1951): Gregory Peck, Susan Hayward. King David’s lust for a married woman has disastrous consequences for Israel. C

8:00 pm – IF IT’S TUESDAY, THIS MUST BE BELGIUM (UA, 1969): Suzanne Pleshette, Ian McShane. American tourists wreak havoc while touring through Europe. C

10:00 pm – A LITTLE ROMANCE (WB, 1979): Laurence Olivier, Diane Lane. Teenagers elope with the help of an aging pickpocket. B+

12:00 am – TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT (MGM, 1972): Maggie Smith, Alec McCowen. A stodgy young man is caught up in his aunt’s freewheeling lifestyle. B+ 

2:00 am – TWO FOR THE ROAD (Fox, 1957): Audrey Hepburn, Albert Finney. A married couple's relationship rises and falls during a series of European trips. B+

4:45 am – THE PICASSO SUMMER (WB/Seven Arts, 1969): Albert Finney, Yvette Mimieux, & Theodore Marcuse. A San Francisco couple travels to France in search of Pablo Picasso. C- 

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1 comment:

  1. Once again... My main source for "recording" TCM classics! Thanks guys!

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