March 15–March 22


CROSSFIRE (March 18, 10:00 am): Robert Ryan was a tremendous actor and this is my favorite film to feature him. This 1947 film noir that deals with anti-Semitism is considered the first B movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The film stars the great Robert Mitchum with Robert Young outstanding as a police detective. But it is Ryan's powerful portrayal of a white supremacist/anti-Semite GI who kills a Jewish guy he and his buddies meet at a bar who steals the movie. 

WATERLOO BRIDGE (March 22, 12:00 pm): While the 1940 version of this film is a bit overproduced – MGM, of course – it's still wonderful with outstanding performances given by the leads, Vivien Leigh (her first film after Gone With the Wind) and Robert Taylor. It's the start of World War II and Taylor is a British Army captain while Leigh is a ballerina. It's love at first sight, but things don't work out so easily with the Nazis trying to blow up England. The two are to be married, but Taylor is called to duty and it only gets worse. Leigh loses her job at the ballet and in order to survive she becomes a prostitute. All hope is lost with Leigh convinced Taylor died in the war after reading his name in the list of those killed in battle. It shows you can't believe everything you read. Some are critical of the ending, but with the Hays Code in play, there wasn't much else to be done. It's still an excellent film.


42nd STREET (March 15, 6:15 pm): The first and the best of the backstage musicals churned out by Warner Brothers in the ‘30s. All the cliches are there: the producer fighting poor health to put on his next show because he’s broke, the gold digging chorines, the star with an attitude, the kid from the chorus who is picked to headline the show after the star can’t go on and the sugar daddy who backs the show. Superbly acted by Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ginger Rogers and Guy Kibbee, it also contains some of the greatest numbers even thought up by Busby Berkeley. This is a film one can watch multiple times without becoming bored.

A FACE IN THE CROWD (March 18, 1:45 pm): Budd Schulberg wrote and Elia Kazan directed this prescient look at celebrity and media-made pundits in the story of Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes (Andy Griffith), a drifter discovered in jail by the hostess (Patricia Neal) of a morning radio show in Pickett, Arkansas, and who, through the sheer force of his “down home” personality eventually makes his way to New York, where he becomes not only an entertainment superstar, but a respected wielder of opinion; powerful enough to make a nondescript senator into a formidable presidential candidate. Rhodes, however, is rotten to the core, and as his fame and power increase, the monster within him begins to break out. It’s up to Neal, as a latter-day Frankenstein, to destroy the monster she created before he destroys us, and she does it in a quite unique way. Neal, of course, is her usual superb self, and Griffith gave the best performance of his career, playing against type. He should have gotten the Oscar, but he wasn’t even nominated, due to the less than stellar box office of the movie and the liberal backlash against director Kazan for supposedly “naming names” before Congress. (In reality he didn’t name anyone that wasn’t already named again and again.) What eventually brought critics around to giving this film another look was Francois Truffaut, who championed the film as a modern-day classic and a warning.

WE DISAGREE ON ... CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (March 16, 6:00 pm)

ED. A-. The censors watered down Tennessee Wiliiams’s classic Pultizer Prize winning play about greed and mendacity in the South, but it still packs one hell of a punch, thanks to a great cast, especially Elizabeth Taylor, who gives one of her best performances and steams up the screen in doing so. Jack Carson scores in one of his last roles as Paul Newman’s brother (and Burl Ives’ son). Newman himself isn’t as dominant in this as he usually is in other films, but still manages to give a powerful performance nevertheless. However, considering the censorship, this is a film that should have been made during the ‘80s, when such topics could be honestly addressed, as Williams did in his play. It’s the excellent cast that puts this film over the hump for the audience, and it’s a wonderful film to see just for the performances.

DAVID: C+. This isn't a bad film, but there are a number of reasons I don't think it's anything special. First the good: Burl Ives is fantastic as Big Daddy, the patriarch of the dysfunctional family featured in the movie. He plays his role to near perfection. To begin the not-so-good list, the screenplay of this Tennessee Williams' play is too melodramatic. As I've mentioned before, I'm not much of a fan of Paul Newman or Elizabeth Taylor. This 1958 film is an example of why. The pair lack chemistry together, and, yes, I know the idea is the two have marital issues. But that doesn't mean Newman and Taylor can't work together to make a good film. Taylor's character goes from understanding to psychotic in the snap of a finger, and she fails to convey any authenticity. As for Newman, he overuses method acting in this film as he was prone to do when playing angst-ridden characters. His character broods and then lashes out during the entire film for no logical reason. The Hays Code wouldn't permit the heavily suggested homosexual aspects of Newman's character that are in the play to be included in the film so viewers are left to wonder: why is any of this occurring? To make matters worse, the characters and the film are pretentious.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

March 15

8:30 am — THE PURCHASE PRICE (WB, 1932): Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent. A nightclub singer on the lam becomes a farmer’s mail order bride. B+

9:45 am — THE OLD MAID (WB, 1939): Bette Davis, Miriam Hopkins, & Jane Bryan. In this classic four-hanky film Davis gives up the raising of illegitimate daughter Bryan to cousin Hopkins. A+

11:30 pm — BABY FACE (WB, 1933): Barbara Stanwyck, Theresa Harris & George Brent. In this, the most notorious of the Pre-Code films, a beautiful schemer sleeps her way to the top of a banking empire. A-

1:00 pm — THE PAINTED VEIL (MGM, 1934): Greta Garbo, Herbert Marshall & George Brent. A wife strays, then fights to redeem herself to her husband. B-

2:30 pm — THE GREAT LIE (WB, 1941): Bette Davis, Mary Astor. Believing her newlywed husband to be dead, a woman (Davis) discovers that the rival for his affections (Astor) is pregnant with his baby. B-

4:30 pm — IN THIS OUR LIFE (WB, 1942): Bette Davis, Olivia DeHavilland & Charles Coburn. Davis stars in this drama as a spoiled young woman who takes her sibling rivalry with her sister a bit too far. B+

6:15 pm — 42nd STREET (WB, 1933): Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler. This first and best of the Warners Pre-Code musicals is rife with homosexual innuendo and implied fornication. A-

8:00 pm — BUTTERFIELD 8 (MGM, 1960): Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey. This bad movie is about call girl Taylor’s affair with a married man. It’s hard to believe that Liz got the Oscar for this. D-

10:00 pm — THE SANDPIPER (MGM, 1965): Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. An Episcopal priest falls for a married artist.  Godawful. 

12:15 am — THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Columbia, 1967): Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor. Burton and Taylor star in Franco Zeffirelli’s version of Shakespeare’s battle of the sexes. C 

2:30 am — DOCTOR FAUSTUS (Columbia, 1968): Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor. The Doctor bargains sells to his soul to Mephistopheles to become young and enjoy 24 hours of “voluptuousness.” D+

4:30 am — X, Y, AND ZEE (Columbia, 1972): Michael Caine, Elizabeth Taylor, & Susannah York. It’s a laff riot about Liz’s efforts to break-up an affair between husband Caine and York. F

March 16

8:30 am — THE GO GETTER (WB, 1937): George Brent, Anita Louise. Busby Berkeley directed this hokey tale of a one-legged Navy veteran’s fight for success. C

10:15 am — VALLEY OF THE GIANTS (WB, 1938): Wayne Morris, Claire Trevor. A lumberman fights those who are out to plunder the forest. C-

1:45 pm —  KING OF THE LUMBERJACKS (WB, 1940): John Payne, Gloria Dickson. A north woods lumberjack unknowingly marries his best friend’s girl. C

4:45 pm — ELIZABETH TAYLOR: AN INTIMATE PORTRAIT (ABC, 1975): Documentary about the life and films of the late star. A

6:00 pm — CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (MGM, 1958): Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Burl Ives. Tennessee Williams’ play about an alcoholic ex-football player, his sultry wife, and the family patriarch. B

8:00 pm — SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER  (MGM, 1958): Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor & Montgomery Clift. Hepburn is a rich widow who wants Clift to perform a lobotomy on niece Taylor to hide a family secret. B

10:15 pm — REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE (WB, 1967): Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, & Brian Keith. Sex, perversion and betrayal at a military post back in 1948. D+

12:30 am — THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN (Fox, 1970): Elizabeth Taylor, Warren Beatty. An affair between a chorus girl and a compulsive gambler/pianist becomes complicated over time. C-

2:45 am — SECRET CEREMONY (Universal, 1968): Liz Taylor, Mia Farrow. A prostitute develops a strange relationship with a waif-like woman (Farrow) who reminds her of her dead daughter. D+

4:45 am — NIGHT WATCH (AVCO Embassy, 1973): Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey. A woman recovering from mental problems witnesses a murder, but nobody believes her. C+

March 17

6:30 am — PEG O’ MY HEART (MGM, 1933): Marion Davies, Onslow Stevens. A spunky Irish girl inherits a place in a British estate. B

8:00 am — THE BIG STAMPEDE (WB, 1932): John Wayne, Noah Beery. A new sheriff faces the gang that killed his predecessor. C

10:00 am — TARZAN AND HIS MATE (MGM, 1934): Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan. In this, the first of many sequels, Tarzan fights to protect Jane from a greedy ivory hunter. A

12:00 pm —  THE FIGHTING 69th (WB, 1940): James Cagney, Pat O’Brien & George Brent. Braggart Cagney learns the true meaning of heroism when he joins an all-Irish unit in World War I. C+

1:45 pm — YOUNG CASSIDY (MGM, 1965): Rod Taylor, Flora Robson, & Jack MacGowran. This is the story of playwright Sean O’Casey’s’ involvement in the Irish rebellion of 1910. C+

3:45 pm — THE RISING OF THE MOON (WB, 1957): Tyrone Power, Dennis O’Dea. 3 stories examine the lives of Irish living under English oppression. C+

8:00 pm — FLIGHT OF THE DOVES (Columbia, 1971): Stanley Holloway, Ron Moody. With their cruel stepfather in pursuit, two British runaways  flee to Ireland and there safety of their grandmother. B-

10:00 pm — PADDY O’DAY (Fox, 1936): Jane Withers, Pinky Tomlin & Rita Cansino (Hayworth). Arriving to this country as an orphan, an immigrant learns to survive as an entertainer. C+

11:30 pm — RETURN TO GLENNASCAUL (Universal, 1953): Orson Welles, Michael Laurence. While taking a break from filming Othello, Orson Welles gives a lift to a hitchhiker who tells him an extraordinary tale of the supernatural. B+

1:45 am — BLOOD SIMPLE (USA Films, 1984): John Getz, Frances McDormand. A Texas bar owner hires a private eye to kill his cheating wife and her boyfriend. A

3:45 am — THE PLAYER (New Line, 1992): Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi. A rising producer tries to cover up the accidental killing of a screenwriter who was stalking him. B

March 18

6:00 am — THE FIREFLY (MGM, 1937): Jeanette MacDonald, Allan Jones. A Spanish spy masquerades as a singer to sabotage Napoleon’s forces. C+

8:30 am — BREWSTER’S MILLIONS (U.A., 1945): Dennis O’Keefe, Helen Walker. A veteran must spend $1 million in 60 days in order to inherit a fortune. B-

10:00 am — CROSSFIRE (RKO, 1947): Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, & Robert Young. A man is murdered by one of a group of soldiers just out of the army. But who done it and why? B

12:00 pm — GUN CRAZY (UA, 1949): John Dall, Peggy Cummins. This ahead-of-its-time sex and guns cult classic, loosely based on Bonnie and Clyde, helped inspire the French New Wave. A+

1:45 pm —  A FACE IN THE CROWD (WB, 1956): Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal. Griffith makes his film debut in Elia Kazan’s film about a female reporter who turns a drifter into a powerful media star. A+

4:00 pm — 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-

6:00 pm — THE LONG, LONG TRAILER (MGM, 1954): Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball. A honeymooning couple invests in a trailer and later discovers life on the road is not all it’s cracked up to be. C+

8:00 pm — MADIGAN (Universal, 1968): Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda. NYC police detective Madigan has 72 hours to find the mobster who got away with his gun. C+

10:00 pm — CHARLEY VARRICK (Universal, 1973): Walter Matthau, Joe Don Baker & Felicia Farr. A band of small-time crooks accidentally steals the mob's money. B

2:00 am — SPRING DREAMS (Shochiku Eiga, 1960): Mariko Okada, Yoshiko Kuga. A wealthy family is thrown into an uproar when an elderly potato vendor suffers a stroke on their living room floor. B

4:00 am — A FAREWELL TO SPRING (Shochiku Eiga, 1959): Keiji Sada, Ineko Arima. Five friends reunite for the first time since graduation but gradually release they have drifted apart over the years. C+

March 19 

6:00 am — DEVIL’S ISLAND (WB, 1939): Boris Karloff, Nedda Harrington. A surgeon unjustly sent to Devil's Island fights to survive harsh treatment. B-

7:15 am — A SCANDAL IN PARIS (UA, 1946): George Sanders, Signe Hasso. An elegant conman gets himself appointed chief of police so he can rob Paris at leisure. B-

9:00 am — A MAN ESCAPED (New Yorker Films, 1956): Francois Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche. A Resistance fighter is imprisoned by the Gestapo, and devotes his waking hours to planning his escape. A+

10:45 am — STRANGE CARGO (MGM, 1940): Joan Crawford, Clark Gable. An atmospheric and allegorical adventure of whores and Christ-figures involved in a Devil’s Island penal-colony escape. A

12:45 pm — THE PILGRIM (First Nat’l, 1923): Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance. An escaped convict poses as the new minister of a small town church. Silent. A

1:30 pm — THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (UA, 1934): Robert Donat, Louis Calhern. It’s a first-rate version of the Dumas tale about a escapee that pursues those who unjustly imprisoned him. A

4:00 pm — THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (RKO, 1948): Farley Granger, Cathy O’Donnell, & Howard DaSilva. Granger and O’Donnell play lovers on the run from the law in Nicholas Ray’s directorial debut. B+

6:00 pm — THE SEVENTH CROSS (MGM, 1944): Spencer Tracy, Hume Cronyn. Tracy leads a group of seven men that escape from a concentration camp and escape to freedom. A-

8:00 pm — BONNIE AND CLYDE (WB, 1967): Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway. Arthur Penn directed this highly stylized biopic of the murderous duo. B+

10:00 pm — THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (Columbia, 1948): Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles & Everett Sloane. A romantic drifter gets caught between a corrupt tycoon and his voluptuous wife. A-

11:45 pm — KING KONG (RKO, 1933): Robert Armstrong, Fay Wray & Bruce Cabot. Animator Willis O’Brien was at the top of his game in this, the original – and still the best by far. A

1:45 am — EASY RIDER (Columbia, 1969): Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper & Jack Nicholson. The praised hit about two motorcycle riders who travel in search of America. A-

3:30 am — NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (Walter Reade, 1968): Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea. Radiation from a falling satellite brings the dead back to life, seeking out human flesh to eat. A

5:30 am — WHITE HEAT (WB, 1948): Jimmy Cagney, Margaret Wycherly, Edmund O’Brien, & Virginia Mayo. T Man O’Brien is hot in the trail of mommy-obsessed and psycho gangster Cagney. A+

March 20

7:30 am — AN IDEAL HUSBAND (London Films, 1947): Paulette Goddard, Michael Wilding. Oscar Wilde’s comedy about a politician haunted by his past when a blackmailer threatens to reveal a youthful indiscretion. B+

11:15 am — THE BIG SLEEP (WB, 1946): Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall. Bogart is Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s tale of corruption and decadence in Los Angeles. A+

1:15 pm — VICTIM (Parkway Films, 1962): Dirk Bogarde, Sylvia Syms. A closeted lawyer risks his career in bringing a blackmailer to justice. A-

3:00 pm — BLACKMAIL (MGM, 1939): Edward G. Robinson, Ruth Hussey. A man in prison on false charges escapes to save his family from a blackmailer. B-

4:30 pm — THE WOMAN IN WHITE  (WB, 1948): Sydney Greenstreet, Agnes Moorehead, & Eleanor Parker. Classic mystery about the adventures of a young tutor sent to a ghostly country estate. B+

6:00 pm — BLACKMAIL (British International Pictures, 1929): Anny Ondra, Sara Allgood. Hitchcock’s first sound picture is a thriller about a policeman’s girlfriend who kills a man that tried to rape her. B+

8:00 pm — THE GRADUATE (Embassy, 1967): Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, & Katherine Ross. A recent college graduate has an affair with his neighbor’s wife, and later falls for her daughterA-

10:00 pm — MODERN TIMES (U.A., 1936): Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard. The Tramp struggles to live in modern industrial society with the help of a young homeless woman. Chaplin’s final silent. A+

11:45 pm — 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (MGM, 1968): Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood. Stanley Kubrick’s magnum opus about evolution concerns a mysterious, obviously artificial, artifact discovered on the moon. A

2:30 am — THE SEARCHERS (WB, 1956): John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, & Vera Miles. An Indian-hating Civil War veteran tracks down the tribe that slaughtered his family and kidnapped his niece. A+

4:45 am — CASH McCALL (WB, 1960): James Garner, Natalie Wood & Nina Foch. A corporate spoiler makes a play for a failing company and the owner's daughter. C+

March 21

8:30 am — CYRANO DE BERGERAC (Stanley Kramer/U.A., 1950): Jose Ferrer, Mala Powers. Ferrer won the Oscar for his portrayal of the swordsman-poet who helps another woo the woman he loves. A-

10:30 am — THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE STREET (MGM, 1934): Norma Shearer, Frederic March. March and Shearer are poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning in this film about their romance. B+

12:30 pm — WINTER MEETING (WB, 1948) Bette Davis, Jim Davis. A repressed poetess and an embittered war hero help each other cope with their problems. C+

2:30 pm — AH WILDERNESS! (MGM, 1935): Eric Linden, Wallace Beery & Mickey Rooney. Story of small-town life in turn-of-the-century America, and a young boy's problems facing adolescence. B+

4:15 pm — A FINE MADNESS (WB, 1966): Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward, & Jean Seberg. A mad poet plagued by writer's block is convinced by his wife to see a psychiatrist. B+

6:15 pm — OSCAR WILDE (Vantage, 1960): Robert Morley, Ralph Richardson. A biographical look at the tumultuous life of the legendary playwright, poet, and wit. B+

8:00 pm — BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (Paramount, 1961): Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard. Hepburn stars as carefree party girl Holly Golightly in this adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel. C

10:15 pm — THE WAY WE WERE (Columbia, 1973): Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand. A ‘30s student radical and her writer husband fight to keep their marriage together over the years. B-

12:30 am — AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (20th Cent. Fox, 1957): Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr. A playboy and singer agree to meet in six months at the Empire State Building though they are engaged to others. C+

4:30 am — NOW VOYAGER (WB, 1942): Bette Davis, Paul Henried & Claude Rains. Classic about a repressed spinster (Davis) set free by psychiatry and her love for a married man (Henreid). A+

March 22

8:15 am — ON YOUR TOES (WB, 1939): Zorina, Eddie Albert. A hoofer gets mixed up with a ballet dancer, leading to jealousy backstage. C+

10:00 am — THE MAD GENIUS (WB, 1931): John Barrymore, Marian Marsh. A deranged ballet teacher will stop at nothing to keep control of his protege. B-

12:00 pm — WATERLOO BRIDGE (MGM, 1940): Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor. A ballerina turns to prostitution when she believes her lover has been killed in World War I. A-

4:00 pm — SHALL WE DANCE? (RKO, 1937): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. A ballet dancer and a showgirl fake a marriage for publicity purposes and fall in love unexpectedly. A-

6:00 pm — ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (MGM, 1946): William Powell, Fred Astaire,& Gene Kelly. Legendary showman Flo Ziegfeld imagines the sort of show he could stage with MGM’s musical stars. A

8:00 pm — SUNSET BOULEVARD (Paramount, 1950): William Holden, Gloria Swanson, & Erich Von Stroheim. Billy Wilder’s classic about a gigolo and a deranged silent star. A+

10:00 pm — GONE WITH THE WIND (MGM, 1939): Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, & Leslie Howard. This classic version of Margaret Mitchell’s bestseller was the biggest grossing movie for decades. A

2:00 am — CASABLANCA (WB, 1943): Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henried, & Claude Rains. An American saloon owner in Morocco is drawn into World War II when his old flame turns up. A+

4:00 am — CITIZEN KANE (RKO, 1941): Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten & Everett Sloane. The story of newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane and what made him tick. A+

March 8–March 14


JAILHOUSE ROCK (March 11, 6:00 pm): This 1957 film is easily one of Elvis' best. He’s in prison on a manslaughter conviction. His cellmate, a former country-and-western singer played by Mickey Shaughnessy, recognizes Vince Everett (Presley) has musical talent after hearing him sing, and serves as a mentor. When Everett is released after 20 months in prison, he looks for work as a singer. He becomes a success thanks to a producer and his love interest, played by Judy Tyler (she and her husband died shortly after the film wrapped up production). Presley does a solid job, showing that with the right material, he was a good actor. Unfortunately, roles like this rarely came along for Elvis. The film is critical of the music industry with Vince, tired of getting ripped off, creates his own record label with Judy. The film's highlight is the iconic “Jailhouse Rock” performance Everett does for a television special.

CLAIRE'S KNEE (March 11, 3:45 am): This 1970 French film, directed by Eric Rohmer, is an excellent erotic comedy about a diplomat in his 30s who becomes obsessed with a teenage girl. Well, not really her – he's in love with the thought of touching the young girl's knee as a sort of sexual conquest. However, the film is so much more than that. It's about a man trying to recapture his youth before getting married with the implication that marriage will forever change his life for the worse. It's also about a younger teenage girl, Laura, Claire's half-sister, and her maturation. And then there's Claire, who appears to be care-free and not very bright, but someone who is also insecure and vulnerable. Its story is brilliant and incredibly emotional. The legendary Roger Ebert described it as "a movie for people who still read good novels, care about good films, and think occasionally." That sums it up quite nicely.


STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR (March 10, 12:00 am): This is a terrific and fast moving noir about a rising reporter Mike Ward (John McGuire) whose testimony at the trial of a cab driver (Elisha Cook, Jr.) accused of killing a café owner results in his conviction and death sentence. He argues with his noisy neighbor, which results in a surreal dream that he has murdered the neighbor. When he awakes, he finds that the neighbor is dead; killed in the same manner as the café owner, and now Mike is arrested as the prime suspect. He tells his fiancée Jane (Margaret Tallichet) that he remembers seeing a man who ran from him on the night he argued with the neighbor, and now Jane searches for that man in order to clear Mike. Will she find him? Is it Peter Lorre? There’s only one way to find out: tune in.

FREAKS (March 12, 8:30 am): A love story of a different kind ... a very different kind. Director Tod Browning draws on his background in the carnival to bring forth a story of the camaraderie of its unusual performers. Spurned and mocked by the show’s cruel trapeze artist, Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), they keep to their own company. However, when Cleopatra discovers that midget performer and sideshow leader Hans (Harry Earles) is coming into a fortune, she changes gears and secures him into marriage, all the while carrying on behind his back with strongman Hercules (Henry Victor). Things go along quite well until the wedding, then a drunken Cleopatra tells her new “friends” just what she thinks of them while inadvertently letting the cat out of the proverbial bag. Later that night the freaks band together to make her truly one of their own. Banned shortly after its release, it became a cult film when screened at midnight shows in the ‘60s. It still has the power to shock today.

WE DISAGREE ON ... VIVA ZAPATA! (March 10, 2:00 pm)

ED: A. The Mexican Revolution, as imagined by Hollywood. As history, it’s a joke, because this is clearly a fictionalized portrait of Zapata. The screenplay, by no less than John Steinbeck, is a disappointment. “Land and Liberty,” the simple slogans of the Revolution, are transformed into liberal cliches in an attempt to discredit Stalinism and distance it from “real” communism, as if any of that has anything to do with the Mexican Civil War. But this is a spectacle, and as film is visual, we must look at it from that point rather than trying to view it as an intellectual tract. And as a spectacle, it is magnificent. The strengths of the film lie in Elia Kazan’s direction, which brings a lot of the scenes to life (even the phony folklore holds one's interest), and the battle scenes are first rate. The film’s other strength is the acting. Brando was at the height of his youthful powers here, and Anthony Quinn was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Jean Peters, as Josefa, the love of Zapata’s life, gives a tremendous performance, as does Joseph Wiseman as the Judas-like Fernando. Also in the cast are such stellar names as Margo, Harold Gordon, Lou Gilbert, Mildred Dunnock,  and Frank Silvera. It’s always a hoot to watch Alan Reed, later the voice of Fred Flintstone, as Pancho Villa. If it seem that I’m not taking this seriously, you’re right – I’m not.

DAVID: C+. While I'm a big fan of director Elia Kazan  On the Waterfront and A Face in a Crowd are two of the finest movies ever made I am lukewarm to Viva Zapata! I admire the ambitious effort put forth to make this film. Kazan as the director, a screenplay by John Steinbeck, and Marlon Brando and Anthony Quinn as the lead actors give this film an instant pedigree. The real disappointment is the final product falls far short of that pedigree. The dialogue relies too much on psychological mumbo-jumbo "a strong people is the only way to freedom" and "cut off the head of the snake and the body will die" and many scenes are dull. This attempt to "Hollywood" a based-on-a-true story of Mexican revolutionaries doesn't work. Brando is all right even though he overdoes method acting turning Zapata into a brooding Mexican Stanley Kowalski. Quinn is solid, but there's not a lot of good material in the film. The movie tries to cram the history of Zapata and the Mexican revolution into a film that's under two hours. It glosses over or skips important parts of his life and wastes time with issues that aren’t interesting.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

March 8

6:45 am – PRESTIGE (RKO, 1932): Ann Harding, Melvyn Douglas. A woman joins her fiancé at a Malaysian prison camp to discover he’s an alcoholic.  C

8:00 am – THE WET PARADE (MGM, 1932): Lewis Stone, Walter Huston. An interesting (if overly long) pre-Code diatribe on the pros and cons of Prohibition as seen through its characters. B+

10:15 am – DANGEROUS (WB, 1935): Bette Davis, Franchot Tone. This sob story about an alcoholic former Broadway star and her rehabilitation by a young architect in love with her earned Davis an Oscar. C

2:00 pm – WAY BACK HOME (RKO, 1932): Phillips H. Lord, Effie L. Palmer & Bette Davis. A New England preacher shelters a young boy from his alcoholic father. C+

3:30 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

8:00 pm – HIGH NOON (UA, 1952): Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly. A retired Marshal must defend his town from a group of villains bent on revenge. A+

9:45 pm – TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Universal-International, 1963): Gregory Peck, John Megna. Harper Lee’s award winning novel of a young girl growing up in segregated Alabama. B

12:15 am – POLTERGEIST (MGM, 1982): Craig T. Nelson, Jobeth Williams. Evil spirits abduct a suburban couple’s daughter, causing terror and havoc. B-

2:30 am – CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (Columbia, 1977): Richard Dreyfuss, Melinda Dillon, Steven Spielberg’s classic about a man’s meeting with aliens and its effects. A-

March 9

6:00 am – THE ANGRY HILLS (MGM, 1959): Robert Mitchum, Stanley Baker. A correspondent tries to get information out of occupied World War II Greece. C+

8:00 am – 4 FOR TEXAS  (WB, 1963): Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin & Anita Ekberg. Double-crossing outlaws go straight and become rival saloon owners. C+

10:15 am – HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE (Fox, 1964): Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland. A wealthy southern spinster fights to keep her family's secrets hidden. B-

12:30 pm – THE FRISCO KID (WB, 1979): Gene Wilder, Harrison Ford. The misadventures of a Polish rabbi in the Old West as he makes his way to San Francisco. C

2:45 pm – THE DIRTY DOZEN (MGM, 1967): Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine & Charles Bronson. A renegade officer trains a group of misfits for a crucial mission behind enemy lines. B+

5:30 pm – THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLAIRE (MGM, 1968): Kim Novak, Peter Finch. Obsessed director Finch grooms unknown Novak to play his deceased movie-star wife. It’s one of the great classic bad movies. D  

8:00 pm – THE WHOLE TOWN’S TALKING (Columbia, 1935): Edward G. Robinson, Jean Arthur. A gangster hides from the law by trading places with a mild-mannered double. Directed by John Ford. B

10:00 pm – LARCENY INC. (WB, 1942): Edward G. Robinson, Broderick Crawford. Eddie G. is funny in this comedy about a group of crooks leasing a luggage store to break into the bank next door. B+

11:45 am – A HOLE IN THE HEAD (UA, 1959): Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson. A single father's bohemian lifestyle could cost him custody of his son. C

2:00 am – MACON COUNTY LINE (AIP, 1974): Alan Vint, Cheryl Waters. A Georgia sheriff mistakes two young men as the murderers of his wife. C+

3:45 am – RETURN TO MACON COUNTY (AIP, 1975): Nick Nolte, Don Johnson. Two teenagers taking their car to the National Championship drag races in California run into trouble along the way. C

March 10

6:00 am – MOVIE CRAZY (Paramount, 1932): Harold Lloyd, Constance Cummings. A stagestruck young actor accidentally receives somebody else's invitation to test in Hollywood. A-

8:00 am – RIDE HIM, COWBOY (WB, 1932): John Wayne, Ruth Hall. A cowboy tames a horse accused of killing a man, then goes out to find the real culprit. D

10:00 am – TARZAN THE APE MAN (MGM, 1932): Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan. A British lord raised by apes kidnaps a beautiful noblewoman exploring Africa with her father. A

12:00 pm – KIT CARSON (UA, 1940): Jon Hall, Lynn Bari. Frontiersman Kit Carson fights off Indian attacks on the trail to California. B+

2:00 pm – VIVA ZAPATA! (20th C. Fox, 1952): Marlon Brando, Jean Peters. Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata leads the peasants against a corrupt president. Directed by Elia Kazan. Ratings: See above.

4:15 pm – SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF (U.A., 1969): James Garner, Joan Hackett, & Walter Brennan. A cowboy meanders into a violent town and becomes the law. B

6:00 pm – A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (U.A., 1967): Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch. Sergio Leone directed this tale of a mysterious stranger who plays two warring clans against each other. B+

8:00 pm – KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (U.A., 1952): John Payne, Coleen Gray. To commit the perfect crime, a former detective keeps his colleagues' identities secret from each other. B

10:00 pm – THE CROOKED WAY (UA, 1949): John Payne, Sonny Tufts. A war hero’s amnesia prevents him from dealing with his criminal past. C

12:00 am – STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR (RKO, 1940): Peter Lorre, John McGuire. After a reporter’s testimony convicts a man for murder, the reporter has second thoughts in this excellent noirA+

1:30 am – THE BIG CHILL (Sony, 1983): Glenn Close, Tom Berenger, & William Hurt. A friend’s death brings together a group of college activists. B+

March 11

6:30 am – TROUBLE IN PARADISE (Paramount, 1932): Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis & Herbert Marshall. Lubitsch directed this stylish comedy of a jewel thief who meets a pickpocket posing as a countess. A+

1:45 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-

4:00 pm – THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (WB, 1938): Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Olivia de Havilland, & Basil Rathbone. Errol Flynn as Robin Hood battles Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisbourne. A+

6:00 pm – JAILHOUSE ROCK (MGM, 1957): Elvis Presley, Mickey Shaugnessy. After learning to play the guitar in prison, a young man becomes a rock 'n' roll sensation. A-

8:00 pm – PILLOW TALK (Universal, 1959): Rock Hudson, Doris Day. A man and a woman carry a feud over a telephone line they share into their real lives. B

10:00 pm – LOVER COME BACK (Universal, 1961): Rock Hudson, Doris Day, & Tony Randall. An ad exec dons a disguise to court his pretty female competitor. B+

12:00 am – BEAU BRUMMEL (WB, 1924): John Barrymore, Mary Astor. The legendary dandy takes on English society when he romances a lady above his station. Silent. A-

2:00 am – LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (Fox Lorber, 1972): Bernard Verley, Zouzou. Though he has an adoring wife, a bourgeois man is still tempted to pursue other women. A-

3:45 am – CLAIRE’S KNEE (Les Films Du Losange, 1970): Jean-Claude Brialy, Aurora Cornu. Despite his betrothal to one woman, a man lusts after her stepsisters. B+

March 12

6:00 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

7:15 am – THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (MGM, 1932): Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, & Myrna Loy. The evil Fu must obtain the mask and sword of Genghis Khan in order to rule the world. Myrna Loy is Fu’s daughter. A-

8:30 am – FREAKS (MGM, 1932): Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams. Tod Browning’s macabre classic about a cruel trapeze artist marrying a midget for his money, and planning to kill him with her lover. B+

10:15 am – DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (Paramount, 1932): Frederic March, Miriam Hopkins. March is Jekyll/Hyde and Hopkins is Ivy in the first sound attempt at filming Stevenson’s classic. A

12:00 pm – MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (MGM, 1935): Bela Lugosi, Lionel Barrymore. A remake of London After Midnight with Chaney’s role divided between Lugosi as the vampire and Barrymore as the Inspector. B-

1:15 pm – THE DEVIL-DOLL (MGM, 1936): Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O’Sullivan. A Devil's Island escapee shrinks murderous slaves and sells them to his victims as dolls. A-

2:45 pm – MAD LOVE (MGM, 1935): Peter Lorre, Colin Clive. A mad doctor grafts the hands of a murderer on to a concert pianist's wrists. A

4:15 pm – CYNTHIA (MGM, 1947): Elizabeth Taylor, George Murphy. A sheltered girl uses music as a mean of winning her independence. D+

6:00 pm – A DATE WITH JUDY (MGM, 1948): Wallace Beery, Jane Powell & Elizabeth Taylor. A teenager thinks her father is involved with a fiery Latin singer. C+

8:00 pm – NATIONAL VELVET (MGM, 1944): Mickey Rooney, Elizabeth Taylor. English farm girl Taylor struggles to train a difficult horse for the Grand National Steeplechase. A+

10:30 pm – LIFE WITH FATHER (WB, 1947): William Powell, Irene Dunne. Straightlaced turn of the century father Powell presides over a family of boys, but mother is the one that really rules the roost. A

12:45 am – LITTLE WOMEN (MGM, 1949): Peter Lawford, June Allyson. Allyson is fine in MGM’s harmless remake of the 1933 Katherine Hepburn version. B+

3:00 am – LASSIE COME HOME (MGM, 1943): Donald Crisp, Roddy McDowell. The faithful collie undertakes an arduous journey to return to her lost family. A

4:45 am – THE COURAGE OF LASSIE (MGM, 1946): Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Morgan. A young girl tries to rehabilitate the famous collie after his return from combat service in World War II. B-

March 13

6:30 am – SUMMER HOLIDAY (MGM, 1948): Mickey Rooney, Gloria De Haven. A musical remake of Ah, Wilderness!  It’s about a small-town boy's struggles with growing up. C+

10:15 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-  

12:30 pm – THE YOUNG LOVERS (MGM, 1964): Peter Fonda, Sharon Hugueny. An art student who goes through life ignoring responsibility must face facts after he impregnates his girlfriend. C-

2:30 pm – LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON (Allied Artists, 1957): Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn. An aging American tycoon overcomes his inhibitions to date a young Parisian. Directed by Billy Wilder. B

5:00 pm – CONSPIRATOR (MGM, 1959): Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Taylor. A young American falls in love with and marries a dashing British major, only to discover that he’s a Commie spy. Uh oh. C

6:30 pm – THE BIG HANGOVER (MGM, 1950): Van Johnson, Elizabeth Taylor. A lawyer's path to the top is blocked by his allergy to alcohol. C

8:00 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+

9:45 pm – FATHER’S LITTLE DIVIDEND (MGM, 1951): Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor. An excellent sequel continuing the story set forth in Father of the Bride as daughter has her first baby. B+

11:15 pm – LOVE IS BETTER THAN EVER (MGM, 1952): Larry Parks, Elizabeth Taylor & Tom Tully. A small-town girl falls for a big-city talent agent. C

12:45 am – THE GIRL WHO HAD EVERYTHING (MGM, 1953): Elizabeth Taylor, Fernando Lamas & William Powell. A criminal lawyer's daughter falls for one of his clients. Remake of A Free SoulC+

2:00 am – THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS (MGM, 1954): Van Johnson Elizabeth Taylor. A writer (Johnson) in Paris remembers his stormy marriage to an heiress (Taylor). F

4:00 am – RHAPSODY (MGM, 1954): Elizabeth Taylor, Vittorio Gassman. A wealthy socialite is torn between the classical violinist who excites her and the pianist who needs her. B-

March 14

6:00 am – TARZAN FINDS A SON (MGM, 1939): Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, and Johnny Sheffield. A boy (Sheffield) falls out of the sky and is adopted by Tarzan and Jane. C+

7:30 am – TARZAN’S SECRET TREASURE (MGM, 1941): Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan. Evil white men show up in the jungle and kidnap Jane and boy to force Tarzan to lead them to a treasure of gold. C-

9:00 am – TARZAN’S NEW YORK ADVENTURE (MGM, 1942): Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan. Tarzan and Jane go to New York to rescue Boy after he is kidnapped into a circus. C+

10:30 am – SKY MURDER (MGM, 1940): Walter Pidgeon, Kaaren Verne. Detective Nick Carter works to prove a beautiful immigrant innocent of murder. C+

12:00 pm – A YANK ON THE BURMA ROAD (MGM, 1942): Laraine Day, Barry Nelson. A truck driver in the Far East is inspired to join the war effort after the attack on Pearl Harbor. C

1:15 pm – DARK DELUSION (MGM, 1947): Lionel Barrymore, James Craig & Lucille Bremer. A young doctor tries to keep a neurotic young woman from being committed. Barrymore’s last Dr. Gillespie film. C

4:30 pm – THE WINGS OF EAGLES (MGM, 1957): John Wayne, Dan Dailey. Wayne is Frank Wead, a pioneer aviator who turned to writing after being grounded by an accident in this biopic. B

6:30 pm – TARZAN THE APE MAN (MGM, 1959): Denny Miller, Joanna Barnes. Tarzan swings to the rescue of his beloved Jane in this wretched remake. F

8:00 pm – RAINTREE COUNTY (MGM, 1957): Elizabeth Taylor, Montgomery Clift. In this sumptuous Civil War story, a willful southern belle goes mad out of fear that she may be part black. F

11:00 pm – GIANT (WB, 1956): Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, & James Dean. George Stevens directed this rambling saga about a Texas oil family struggling to adapt to changing times. B

2:45 am – IVANHOE (MGM, 1952): Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor & Joan Fontaine. Robert Taylor stars in the title role in Sir Walter Scott’s novel about a noble knight torn between two women. B+

4:45 am – BEAU BRUMMEL (MGM, 1954): Stewart Granger, Elizabeth Taylor. An English Don Juan courts the Prince of Wales' favor while romancing his way through society. C+

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1 comment:

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