TCM TiVo ALERT



TCM TiVo ALERT
For
April 1–April 7

DAVID'S BEST BETS:

WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (April 4, 8:00 pm): This 1957 film, directed by Billy Wilder, is one of the absolute best suspense movies you'll ever see. The story takes many interesting twists and the acting is outstanding, particularly Charles Laughton as an ill, but still brilliant, barrister who takes the case of a man, played by Tyrone Power in his last role, charged with murder. All of the evidence points to Power's character, Leonard Vole, as the killer, but Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Laughton) can't resist defending him. Things take a turn for the worse – or maybe it doesn't – when Vole's wife, played by Marlene Dietrich, is called as a witness for the prosecution. The ending is so unexpected and executed exceptionally well by all parties involved in the film. It is a shock that's heightened by the closing credits asking moviegoers to not reveal the ending to anyone who hasn't seen it.  

BEN-HUR (April 5, 1:30 pm): It's nearly four hours long, but it's one of cinema's most spectacular epics. Charlton Heston has his critics, but I can't think of any other actor who could have played the lead character in this film any better. Heston is Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince who ends up getting in a lot of trouble when reunited with an old friend, who happens to be a Roman tribune with a real mean streak. The incredible chariot race is reason enough to watch Ben-Hur. It's one of the most spectacular scenes you'll ever seen in film. Add to that Ben-Hur's time as a galley slave on a Roman boat and the preparation he does to exact revenge and you have an epic film in every way possible. My lone disappointment is the miracle at the end of the film as it comes across as forced. But it doesn't detract from the overall excellence of the movie.

ED'S BEST BETS:

LAURA (April 4, 10:15 pm): One of the great noirs – a film that works on every level, keeping us enthralled with each slight twist of the plot. It also boasts a great cast, including Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb, Gene Tierney, Dame Judith Anderson, and Vincent Price. How can one not love a film that opens with “I shall never forget the weekend Laura died,” spoken off screen by Webb? We focus on Dana Andrews as the detective investigating her murder – and who falls in love with her. But it’s Clifton Webb, as the acerbic critic Waldo Lydecker, a snob par excellence who seems just as captivated as Andrews with Laura, who walks away with the film. And as Laura, Gene Tierney is simply wonderful; her beauty answering any questions we might have as to her allure. It’s a film I can watch multiple times without ever becoming bored.

GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE (April 6, 3:30 pm): It’s one of the most incredible films ever made, and it comes from MGM, yet. Produced by William Randolph Hearst, it’s practically an advertisement for fascism, as party-hearty president Walter Huston is knocked for a loop in a car accident. When he comes out of his coma, he’s a changed man and uses dictatorial powers to take over, wiping out both unemployment and crime. If you haven’t seen this one yet, and the odds are great that you haven’t as this is rarely shown, by all means record and watch it. You’ll be knocked for a loop.

WE DISAGREE ON ... GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (April 6, 8:00 pm)

ED: B+. This is a slick, highly entertaining piece of fluff from director Howard Hawks with standout performances from Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell as two singers that turn the heads of various men in two continents. Monroe was never better than in this film as the seductive Lorilei Lee. Russell gives a tremendous and sly comic performance as Monroe’s buddy, and the chemistry between the two is what moves the movie. The stars keep their characters likable while turning the men into mere foils for their constant battle-of-the-sexes wisecracks. Based on the venerable play from Anita Loos with script from Charles Lederer, Hawks’s movie version features the show stopping number, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” from Marilyn Monroe. Madonna may have managed to imitate Monroe’s in her “Material Girl” video, but Monroe shows why she can never be duplicated. Look for Jane’s standout routine as well, a number titled “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love,” a great number she sings and dances with a group of shipboard Olympic athletes dressed in gold lame bathing trunks. The number has become an enduring camp classic over the years. Thanks to Hawks, under the surface lies a feminist subtext that raises the film above that of a mere gold digger celebratory fest. Monroe may be singing about diamonds being a girl’s best friend, but what she’s really aiming at is financial independence.

DAVID: C-. I honestly wonder what Howard Hawks was thinking when he directed this film. If it was just for the money, I can accept that. If he thought he was directing something worthwhile, he was kidding himself. This 1953 musical about a pair of gold-digging showgirls (Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell) looking to marry rich guys is a one-trick pony – and the trick is tired and overdone. While only five years older than Monroe, Russell looks to be at least a decade older and has very little sex appeal here. Since her character is supposed to be sexy, though not as much as Monroe, there's a basic problem with casting Russell. As for Monroe, her ditsy blonde act, which we've seen in so many films, is too over-the-top here. How convenient that Monroe's boyfriend is very wealthy. Even so, it doesn't stop her from leading on an older, married man (Charles Coburn) because he's got even more money. I still can't figure out if she's supposed to be using him to get his wife's diamond tiara or is just overly friendly. Monroe can't sing or dance yet her character sings and dances. Her performance of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" is famous more for how she looks than how she performs it. The plot, if you can call it that, is plodding and predictable: Russell falls for the private detective hired by the father of Monroe's boyfriend, who's concerned she's marrying the naive guy for his money. The music and dancing is forgettable and poorly performed. As Ed mentioned, the film is fluff and campy, but it's not that entertaining.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

April 1

6:00 am – THE TENDERFOOT (WB, 1932): Joe E. Brown, Ginger Rogers. An innocent cowboy sets out to back a Broadway play. C+

7:15 am – SON OF A SAILOR (WB, 1933): Joe E. Brown, Jean Muir. A lovesick fool bumbles his way into espionage and finds a stolen plane. C+

9:45 am – EARTHWORM TRACTORS (WB, 1936): Joe E. Brown, June Travis. To make his girlfriend happy by bringing in more money, salesman Joe E. Brown begins selling caterpillar tractors. C+

12:15 pm – RIO RITA (MGM, 1942): Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, & Kathryn Grayson. Bud and Lou try to stop a Nazi spy ring from infiltrating a Western ranch. C+

2:00 pm – LOST IN A HAREM (MGM, 1944): Abbott & Costello, Marilyn Maxwell. Two bumbling magicians help a Middle Eastern prince regain his rightful throne from his despotic uncle. C+

3:45 pm – 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

5:15 pm – ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET CAPTAIN KIDD ( WB, 1952): Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, & Charles Laughton. Two waiters stumble upon a treasure map and meet the famous pirate. C+

6:30 pm – JACK AND THE BEANSTALK (WB, 1952): Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, & Buddy Baer. Abbott and Costello’s take on the famous fairy tale. C

8:00 pm – VIVA ZAPATA (20th C. Fox, 1952): Marlon Brando is Zapata and Alan Reed (Fred Flintstone) is Pancho Villa in this bio of the revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. Directed by Elia Kazan. A

10:15 pm – ZORBA THE GREEK (Int’l Classics, 1964): Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates, & Irene Papas. An amoral Greek peasant teaches an English student about life. A+

12:45 am – LUST FOR LIFE (MGM, 1956): Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn. Douglas is outstanding in this passionate telling of the story of Vincent Van Gogh and his descent into madness. B

3:00 am – CITY FOR CONQUEST (WB, 1940): James Cagney, Ann Sheridan. Anatole Litvak’s magnificent soaper about a boxer (Cagney) and his romance with star-struck hoofer Sheridan. B

5:00 am – KNOCKOUT (WB, 1941): Arthur Kennedy, Anthony Quinn. A young prizefighter’s victories have gone to his head, affecting his marriage. D

April 2

6:45 am – BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936 (MGM, 1936): Jack Benny, Eleanor Powell. Benny stars, but Powell will tap dance her way into your hearts. C+

8:30 am – BROADWAY MELODY OF 1938 (MGM, 1938): Robert Taylor, Eleanor Powell, Judy Garland, & George Murphy. Problems jeopardize a Broadway musical. Garland sings “Dear Mr. Gable.” C+

10:30 am – THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (MGM, 1938): Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, & Walter Pidgeon. A frontierswoman shelters a notorious outlaw. C+

12:45 pm – YELLOW JACK (MGM, 1938): Robert Montgomery, Virginia Bruce, & Lewis Stone. A band of doctors, scientists and Marines fight yellow fever in 1898 Cuba. B+

2:15 pm – FOUR GIRLS IN WHITE (MGM, 1939): Ann Rutherford, Florence Rice, & Una Merkel. Rice dominates this comedy-drama about nurses and their problems in adjusting to their jobs. C+

3:30 pm – THE KID FROM TEXAS (MGM, 1939): Dennis O’Keefe, Florence Rice. A playboy turns cowboy and sets up a polo match with an Indian tribe. C

6:15 pm – SING YOUR WORRIES AWAY (RKO, 1942): Bert Lahr, June Havoc. A daffy songwriter inherits a fortune but has to fight off gangsters to get it. C

8:00 pm – ONE FOOT IN HEAVEN (WB, 1941): Frederic March, Martha Scott & Beulah Bondi. A minister and his wife cope with the problems of church life in the 20th century. A

10:00 pm – ONE MAN’S WAY (UA, 1964): Don Murray, Diana Hyland. Murray stars in the story of Norman Vincent Peale and his fight to being his message to the nation. C+

12:00 am – STARS IN MY CROWN (MGM, 1950): Joel McCrea, Ellen Drew. A parson uses six-guns in addition to his Bible in bringing order to a Tennessee town. A

1:45 am – THE LITTLE MINISTER (RKO, 1934): Katharine Hepburn, John Beal. A young woman masquerades as a gypsy to win a minister’s love. A-

3:45 am – THE SANDPIPER (MGM, 1965): Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. An Episcopal priest falls for a married artist.  Godawful. D

April 3

6:00 am – JULIUS CAESAR (MGM, 1953): James Mason, John Gielgud, & Marlon Brando: Excellent filmed adaptation of Shakespeare’s play with an outstanding cast. A+

8:15 am – THE FUGITIVE KIND (U.A., 1960): Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, & Joanne Woodward. Drifter Brando ignites the passions of the women in a Mississippi town. C

4:15 pm – A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (WB, 1951): Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh. Fading southern belle Leigh tries to build a new life when she moves in with her sister and brutish brother-in-law. A+

6:30 pm – THE WILD ONE (Columbia, 1954): Marlon Brando, Lee Marvin. A motorcycle gang takes over a small town. B

8:00 pm – THE WIZARD OF OZ (MGM, 1939): Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, & Frank Morgan. A Kansas farm girl dreams herself into a magical land where she must fight a wicked witch to escape . A++

10:00 pm – SAN FRANCISCO (MGM, 1936): Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, & Jeanette McDonald. A singer and a battling priest try to reform a Barbary Coast saloonkeeper in the days right before the big earthquake. B

12:15 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

2:15 am – MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (MGM, 1935): Clark Gable, Charles Laughton. This is the classic, and still the best, version of the H.M.S. Bounty story. Required viewing. A+

4:45 am – THE DECKS RAN RED (MGM, 1958): James Mason, Dorothy Dandridge. Dishonest seamen plot a bloody mutiny aboard a freighter. C+

April 4

6:15 am – THE WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER (MGM, 1944): Irene Dunne, Alan Marshall. An American woman with an English husband fights to keep her family together through two world wars. B

8:30 am – ANDY HARDY GETS SPRING FEVER (MGM, 1939): Lewis Stone, Mickey Rooney, & Ann Rutherford. Andy gets a serious crush on his new drama teacher. B-

10:00 am – BATMAN: THE LIVING CORPSE (Columbia, 1943): Lewis Wilson, Douglas Croft. Batman takes on Japanese saboteurs in this 15-chapter serial. C+

10:30 am – THE PARTY (UA, 1968): Peter Sellers, Claudine Longet. An Indian actor (Sellers) turns a swank Hollywood party into a disaster. C

12:15 pm – THE CORSICAN BROTHERS (UA, 1941): Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Ruth Warrick. Siamese twins, separated in infancy, join forces to avenge their parents’ murder. B+

6:00 pm – TRAPEZE (U.A., 1956): Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, & Gina Lollabridiga. Burt is an acrobat grown long in the tooth who finds himself involved with his protégé over the same woman. C

8:00 pm – WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (UA, 1957): Tyrone Power, Charles Laughton. Billy Wilder directed this adaptation of Agatha Christie about the prosecution of a case that brings surprise after surprise. A+

10:15 pm – LAURA (Fox, 1944): Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, & Clifton Webb. A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he’s been investigating. A+

12:00 am – KLUTE (WB, 1971): Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland. A small-town detective searches for a missing man linked with a high-priced prostitute. B

2:15 am – THE HUNGER (MGM, 1983): David Bowie, Susan Sarandon, & Catherine Deneuve. Sarandon is a scientist in New York City forced to help vampire Deneuve’s ill mate (Bowie). B+

4:00 am – THE VAMPIRE BAT (Majestic, 1933): Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, & Dwight Frye. A vampire is stalking the streets of a village. Is it Frye? Or could mad scientist Atwill be behind it? C

5:15 am – GODSPELL (Columbia, 1973): Victor Garber, Lynne Thigpen. This is the filmed version of the hit Broadway musical – a modern song-and-dance recreation of The Gospel of St. MatthewB-

April 5

7:00 am – BARABBAS (Columbia, 1961): Anthony Quinn, Silvana Magnano. The story of the criminal released by Pilate and who is haunted by the specter of the prophet for the rest of his life. D+

9:30 am – BEN-HUR (MGM, 1959): Charlton Heston, Stephen Boyd, When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. A+

1:30 pm – KING OF KINGS (MGM, 1961): Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Ryan, Hurd Hatfield, & Rip Torn. Nicholas Ray directed this re-telling of the life of Christ with emphasis on the politics of the day. A-  

4:30 pm – THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (UA, 1965): Max Von Sydow, Charlton Heston. Von Sydow is Jesus and Heston plays John the Baptist in this all-star epic about the life of Christ. B

8:00 pm – EASTER PARADE (MGM, 1950): Judy Garand, Fred Astaire, & Ann Miller. Irving Berlin wrote the music about a dancer rising to fame with a new partner, but who can’t forget his ex-partner. A

10:00 pm – HOLIDAY INN (Paramount, 1942): Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire. When he loses in love to his partner, a song-and-dance man retires from show business to run a country inn. A+

12:00 am – THE KING OF KINGS (Pathe, 1927): H.B. Warner, Dorothy Cumming. Cecil B. DeMille’s re-telling of the story of Jesus. Silent. B

2:45 am – TORMENTO (Titanus, 1950): Amedeo Nazzari, Yvonne Sanson. A woman runs away from her father and smothering stepmother and into a bad marriage. B

4:30 am – CHI E SENZA PECCATO (WHO IS WITHOUT SIN) (Titanus, 1952): Amedeo Nazzari, Yvonne Sanson. A couple is separated for 12 years due to a misunderstanding. B

April 6

6:45 am – ABRAHAM LINCOLN (Griffith/U.A., 1930): Walter Huston, Una Merkel. D. W. Griffith directed this episodic biography of the 16th President that clocks in at a tidy 90 minutes. B

8:30 am – KONGO (MGM, 1932): Walter Huston, Lupe Velez. This sound remake West of Zanzibar finds Walter Huston as the handicapped magician who rules an area of Africa as a living god. C-

10:00 am – NIGHT COURT (MGM, 1932): Walter Huston, Lewis Stone. Corrupt judge Huston frames an innocent young couple to avoid prosecution by D.A. Stone. C+

11:45 pm – RAIN (MGM, 1932): Joan Crawford, Walter Huston. A missionary (Huston) tries to reform a prostitute (Crawford) on a Pacific Island. B-

1:30 pm – THE WET PARADE (MGM, 1932): Lewis Stone, Walter Huston. This is an interesting (if overly long) Pre-Code diatribe on the pros and cons of Prohibition as seen through its characters. B+

3:30 pm – GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE (MGM, 1933): Walter Huston, Karen Morley. A crooked president undergoes a miraculous reformation and saves the country. A+

5:00 pm – STORM AT DAYBREAK (MGM, 1933): Kay Francis, Nils Asther. Fictionalized account of the events leading up to Archduke Ferdinand''s assassination and the start of World War I. B-

6:30 pm – KEEP ‘EM ROLLING (RKO, 1934): Walter Huston, Frances Dee. A soldier deserts when he's separated from his horse. C+

8:00 pm – GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (20th Century Fox, 1953): Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe. Two singers work their way to Paris, enjoying the company of the men they meet along the way. Ratings: See above.

9:45 pm – THE OUTLAW (Howard Hughes Productions, 1943): Thomas Mitchell, Jane Russell. Allegedly the story of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, it’s badly directed, badly acted, and badly written. Total Entertainment! F

12:00 am – THE PALEFACE (Paramount, 1948): Bob Hope, Jane Russell. Calamity Jane winds up married to a hapless correspondence school dentist as part of her cover. C+

1:45 am – MACAO (RKO, 1952): Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, & William Bendix. A man on the run in the Far East is mistaken for an undercover cop. C

3:15 am – HIS KIND OF WOMAN (RKO, 1951): Robert Mitchum, Raymond Burr. Outrageous film noir as Mitchum is lured to Mexico to be killed so mob boss Burr can assume his identity. C-

April 7

6:00 am – THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (WB, 1936): Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilliand, & Patric Knowles. Two brothers love the same woman at a perilous Indian outpost. B+

8:00 am – THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (WB, 1938): Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Olivia DeHavilland, & Basil Rathbone. Errol Flynn as Robin Hood battles Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisbourne. A+

9:45 am – THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX (WB, 1939): Bette Davis, Errol Flynn. It’s high drama - and camp - concerning the relationship of Queen Elizabeth I and Lord Essex. B

11:45 am – CASABLANCA (WB, 1943): Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henried, Claude Rains, & Conrad Veidt. Bogart is a disillusioned American; Bergman his lost love. Henried leads the Resistance, Rains is the head of Police, and Veidt is the nasty Gestapo officer. A+

1:45 pm – YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (WB, 1942): James Cagney, Walter Huston, & Joan Leslie. Cagney won the Oscar for his portrayal of song-and-dance man George M. Cohan. A+

4:00 pm – PASSAGE TO MARSEILLE (WB, 1944): Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre & Sidney Greenstreet. A gang of convicts escape from Devil’s Island and join the Free French. B+

6:00 pm – MILDRED PIERCE (WB, 1945): Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, & Eve Arden. A self-made woman’s (Crawford) spoiled rotten teenage daughter (Blyth) embroils her in murder. A

8:00 pm – JAMES STEWART: A WONDERFUL LIFE (MGM Television, 1987): A retrospective tribute to the life and career of the noted actor. A

9:45 pm – THE SPENCER TRACY LEGACY (Lions Gate, 1986): Katharine Hepburn pays tribute to Spencer Tracy in this documentary. A

11:30 pm – FONDA ON FONDA (Turner, 1992): Jane Fonda hosts this tribute to the life and works of her father, Henry. A

12:30 am – KATHARINE HEPBURN: ALL ABOUT ME (Turner, 1993): Hepburn discusses her life and career. A

2:00 am – BACALL ON BOGART (WNET, Turner, 1988): Lauren Bacall hosts this extraordinary documentary on her life on- and off-screen with her late husband, Humphrey Bogart. A

3:30 am – TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (WB, 1944): Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, & Walter Brennan. Bogie is a skipper of a boat who becomes involved with the Vichy French. It was Bacall’s film debut. A

5:15 am – KEY LARGO (WB, 1948): Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore, & Lauren Bacall. Gangster-on-the-run Eddie G. commandeers Barrymore’s hotel on Key Largo. Bogart must stop him. A+


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