September 1–September 7


BEING THERE (September 3, 8:00 pm): Peter Sellers was known for his versatility as an actor. He often played more than one character in films and could easily go from maniacal to subdued while always being interesting. Being There is one of Sellers' last films and his finest role. He is a simple-minded gardener in this 1979 film who learns everything from watching TV. One circumstance leads to another and Chance (Sellers) ends up being an adviser to the president of the United States with what he says interpreted to be brilliant advice. It is a clever, funny, heartwarming and beautiful. Melvyn Douglas as a wealthy businessman and adviser to the president is outstanding, and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Sellers was nominated for Best Actor, losing to Dustin Hoffman (Kramer vs. Kramer). During his acceptance speech, Hoffman said he couldn't believe he beat Sellers; neither can I.

PLANET OF THE APES (September 7, 8:00 pm): Along with 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968's original Planet of the Apes is the greatest science-fiction film I've ever seen. Whenever it airs, I stop everything and watch it even though I've seen it at least 50 times and I own the entire DVD collection of the original five Apes films. Charlton Heston is among a group of astronauts who land on a strange planet and come across mute and not intelligent humans. They think they're going to run the place in a few weeks. It turns out the planet is actually controlled by talking apes. The interaction between Taylor (Heston) and three key apes - Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), Zira (Kim Hunter) and particularly Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) - are the keys to this movie. The ending is among the best you'll ever find. It turns out Taylor time traveled and landed on a post-apocalyptic Earth. So many of the lines are iconic, the makeup and costumes are incredible for its time (years ahead of its time), and the cinematography is amazing.


HITLER’S CHILDREN (September 4, 1:00 pm): There’s junk, and there’s junk, but this one is great junk. Bonita Granville is Anna, a German girl born in America. Tim Holt is Karl. He’s in love with Anna, but he’s also in the Hitler Youth. Guess what comes first? Anna, for her part, just doesn’t get the whole Nazi thing. Given a chance to be a good little Nazi and study at the University of Berlin, Anna denounces the system and the Fuehrer instead. It’s one thing to denounce the system, but the Fuehrer? You can guess what happens to Anna from here, but I will tell you there’s a great scene where she’s publicly flogged at a concentration camp. No surprise here, but this film was RKO’s biggest moneymaker for 1943.

SAFE IN HELL (September 5, 12:15 pm): This is one of the most adult of the Pre-Code films, and brutally frank to boot. Dorothy Mackaill is a whore in New Orleans who believes she’s killed one of her johns. So she hotfoots it to the island of Tortuga, where she can’t be extradited. Unfortunately, she’s stepped from the frying pan right into the fire, as Tortuga is a sanctuary for every kind of pervert imaginable. To say this is one of the seamiest movies ever made is a definite understatement. Leonard Maltin says it’s more astonishing than entertaining, but I disagree. This is great low-class fun, and Mackaill fits the part perfectly.

WE DISAGREE ON . . . OUR TOWN (September 2, 6:30 am)

ED: A. Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about life in the fictional New Hampshire town of Grover's Corners in the years 1900 through 1913 is one of the theater's best-loved examples of Americana. Producer Sol Lesser and director Sam Wood have turned it into a film, and a pretty good one at that. You see, it all depends on how you look at it. One thing is for sure - it can’t be taken at face value because it depicts an America that most likely never existed. In that respect it’s like the Hardy Family series. So we look at other aspects, such as the performances, the mise-en-scene, the art direction, the scoring, sound, and photography. The performances are superb, led by a young William Holden and Martha Scott, who came over from the Broadway production. The film also has a treasure-trove of excellent supporting actors, led by Guy Kibbee, Thomas Mitchell, Beulah Bondi, Fay Bainter, and Stuart Erwin. It was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress (Scott). The score, by Aaron Copland, is memorable, and was also nominated, as was William Cameron Menzies for Art Direction. Wood is a competent, if unspectacular, director, whose job was to implement producer Lesser’s plan. A large part of that plan involves changing the end from tragic to happy. It’s 1940, and we’re pretty sure that World War II is only a matter of months away, so who needs a downer? Take it for what it is, enjoy the performances and revel in Holden, so young and full of life.

DAVID: D+. If corny, sappy, dated films about life in a small town that's about as authentic as a $3 bill is your thing, then Our Town is your movie. Only William Holden's performance and a nice musical score saves this film from being a complete bomb. But I'm not watching a movie for the musical score or to see a single actor do a good job. The play has probably been done by thousands of high schools nationwide during the past 75 years and I'm sure several of them are as "good" as this 1940 film. Among the most annoying aspects of this movie is Frank Craven, the narrator who tells us more than anyone could ever want to know about the good people of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, during the early years of the 20th century. There's nothing interesting about the film and the characters. It's as if the film's plot is intended to be boring, and the folksy message beats the viewer over the head repeatedly to the point you give up hope of being entertained. In the play, Martha Scott's character, Holden's wife, dies during childbirth. In this film, she starts to drift into death, sees her deceased loved ones, remembers some of her memories and recovers to deliver the baby. Simply put: it's a bad movie.

Schedule Subject to Change (All times Eastern Daylight Time) 

September 1

6:00 am – RUSSIAN ARK (The State Hermitage Museum, 2002): Sergey Dreyden, Mariya Kuznetsova. A mysterious man visits scenes from Russian history in search of his own identity. A

8:00 am – THE GARDEN OF ALLAH (U.A., 1936): Marlene Dietrich, Charles Boyer.  A monk deserts his calling to be with a beautiful woman he met in the Sahara. B

12:15 pm – THE SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE (Janus Films, 1973): Teresa Gimpera, Ana Torrent. After seeing the classic Frankenstein, two naive young girls go searching for the mad doctor's monster. A

4:00 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-

5:15 pm – DEATH RIDES A HORSE (UA, 1969): John Phillip Law, Lee Van Cleef. A young gunman seeks vengeance against those that killed his family in this spaghetti Western. B+

10:30 pm – PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (Selznick, 1949): Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten. A beautiful ghost provides the inspiration for a young artist. A

12:15 am – MY LEFT FOOT (Miramax, 1989): Daniel Day-Lewis, Brenda Fricker. Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his portrayal of artist Christy Brown, who suffered from cerebral palsy and learned to paint with his left foot. A

2:15 am – THE CRYING GAME (Miramax, 1992): Stephen Rea, Miranda Richardson. IRA kidnappers grab an English soldier and intend to exchange him for one of their own. B-

4:15 am – OVERLORD (Janus, 1975): Brian Sterner, Dayvd Harries. During the war a young lad is called up and, with an increasing sense of foreboding, undertakes his training ready for D-day. A

September 2

6:30 am – OUR TOWN (UA, 1940): Frank Craven, William Holden. Sam Wood directed this sensitive adaptation of Thornton Wilder's play about small New England town with human drama and conflict in every family. Ratings: See above.

8:00 am – RACHEL AND THE STRANGER (RKO, 1948): Loretta Young, William Holden. A mail-order bride is strongly attracted to a handsome drifter. B+

9:30 am – FORCE OF ARMS (WB, 1951): William Holden, Nancy Olsen, & Frank Lovejoy. A flaccid updating of A Farewell to Arms with GI Sgt. Holden romancing WAC Olsen in WWII Italy. C-

1:00 pm – EXECUTIVE SUITE (MGM, 1954): William Holden, June Allyson, & Barbara Stanwyck. Robert Wise directed this slick, well-done story of intrigue in a board of directors when a business magnate dies. A-

3:00 pm – TOWARD THE UNKNOWN (WB, 1956): William Holden, Lloyd Nolan, Virginia Leith, & James Garner. Holden is a grounded test pilot who attempts to clear his name (Garner’s first film). B-

5:00 pm – THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (Columbia, 1957): Alec Guinness, William Holden. David Lean directed this epic story of POWS forced by the Japanese to build a bridge in Burma. A+

8:00 pm – THE JAZZ SINGER (WB, 1927): Al Jolson, May McAvoy. It’s the granddaddy of all sound films. Jolson is a cantor’s son who breaks with tradition and goes into show business. B-

9:45 pm – THE JAZZ SINGER (WB, 1953): Danny Thomas, Peggy Lee. This slick remake of the 1927 film breaks no new ground and retains all the schmaltz. C+

11:45 pm – HESTER STREET (Midwest Film Prod., 1975): Carol Kane, Steven Keats.  A Russian immigrant brings over his wife only to realize they are now strangers. A

1:30 pm – AVALON (Tristar, 1990): Armin Mueller-Stahl, Elizabeth Perkins. Barry Levinson directed this story of a Jewish family in America attempting to live out the American Dream. A-

4:00 am – STREET SCENE (UA, 1931): Silvia Sidney, David Landau. King Vidor directed this realistic view of life in New York City’s tenements and the desperation of the younger generation to escape. A

September 3

8:00 am – ADAM’S RIB (MGM, 1949): Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, David Wayne, & Judy Holliday. Tracy and Hepburn are husband and wife lawyers on opposite sides in a murder case. B

2:00 pm – DEAR HEART (WB, 1964): Glenn Ford, Geraldine Page. A middle-aged postmistress falls for an affianced man during a convention in New York. B-

4:00 pm – TWO TICKETS TO BROADWAY (RKO, 1951): Tony Martin, Janet Leigh. Small town girl Leigh finds love on the way to Broadway stardom. C+

8:00 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+

10:15 pm – MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE (RKO, 1948): Cary Grant, Myrna Loy. A couple looking to escape Manhattan for life in the Connecticut suburbs finds it’s not that easy. A

12:00 am – A WOMAN’S FACE (MGM, 1941): Joan Crawford, Conrad Veidt. Crawford is superb in this George Cukor-directed story of a scarred criminal whose plastic surgery gives her a new start. B+

September 4

6:00 am – ANNIE OAKLEY (RKO, 1935): Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster, & Melvyn Douglas. Stanwyck is the title character in a pretty lively biopic of the Wild West star. A-

9:00 am – A WOMAN’S SECRET (RKO, 1949): Maureen O’Hara, Gloria Grahame, & Melvin Douglas. A retired singer is betrayed by the protégé she has made into a success. B-

10:30 am – THE DEVIL COMMANDS (Columbia, 1941): Boris Karloff, Anne Revere. A mad scientist obsessed with the idea of communicating with his dead wife uses corpses as conduits. B-

11:45 am – SWEETHEART OF THE CAMPUS (Columbia, 1941): Ruby Keeler, Ozzie Nelson & Harriet Hilliard. A college dean tries to keep a nightclub from opening too close to his campus. C+

1:00 pm – HITLER’S CHILDREN (RKO 1943): Tim Holt, Bonita Granville. Edward Dmytryk directed this lurid tale about the Hitler Youth and its effect on Germany’s youth. It was RKO’s leading moneymaker that year. C+

4:30 pm OBSESSION (Eagle-Lion, 1949): Robert Newton, Sally Gray. A jealous psychiatrist plans to dispose of his wife’s lover with an acid bath. A

6:15 pm THE SNIPER (Columbia, 1952): Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz. From producer Stanley Kramer comes this psychological study of an unhappy man who goes on a killing spree. A-

10:30 pm – THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (MGM, 1950): Louis Calhern, Sam Jaffe, & Sterling Hayden. This is the classic John Huston noir about a jewel heist gone wrong. A

12:45 am – FANNY AND ALEXANDER (Sveriges Tv1, 1982): Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve. Ingmar Bergman directed this character study of two children growing up in early 20th century Sweden. A+

4:00 am – FORBIDDEN GAMES (Silver Films, 1952): Brigitte Fossey, Georges Poujouly. During World War 2, a refugee child creates a cemetery for animals. B+

September 5

6:00 am – THE BIG SHAKEDOWN (WB, 1934): Ricardo Cortez, Bette Davis, & Charles Farrell. Davis is in the middle when cosmetics producer hubby Farrell allows gangster Cortez into the business. C

7:15 am – PARACHUTE JUMPER (WB, 1933): Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Bette Davis, Frank McHugh, & Leo Carrillo. A fast-moving tale of three friends (Fairbanks, McHugh and Davis) victimized by gangster Carrillo. B-

8:30 am – EX-LADY (WB, 1933): Bette Davis, Gene Raymond. Artist Davis is torn between her belief in free love and marrying the man she loves (Raymond). B

9:45 am – VIRTUE (Columbia, 1932): Carole Lombard, Pat O’Brien. Taxi driver O’Brien falls for con artist Lombard with predictable results. C+

11:00 am – WILD BOYS OF THE ROAD (WB, 1933): Frankie Darro, Rochelle Hudson. An impoverished girl disguises herself as a young boy to run with a gang of young hobos dispossessed by the Depression. B

12:15 pm – SAFE IN HELL (WB, 1931): Dorothy Mackaill, Donald Cook. Unaware that she is a prostitute wanted for murder in New Orleans, a vicious local police chief of a Caribbean island sets his sights on her. B

1:30 pm – FRISCO JENNY (WB, 1932): Ruth Chatterton, Louis Calhern. A district attorney prosecutes his own mother for murder in this great Pre-Code film. A-

2:45 pm – FEMALE (WB, 1933): Ruth Chatterton, George Brent. The CEO of a large automobile company used to buying her lovers meets her match in an independent young executive. Pre-Code. A-

4:00 pm – ILLICIT (WB, 1931): Barbara Stanwyck, James Rennie, & Joan Blondell. Young free thinkers turn conventionally possessive when they marry. Remade as Ex-Lady in 1933. C-

5:30 pm – NIGHT NURSE (WB, 1931): Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell & Clark Gable. Stanwyck is a nurse who discovers the children she’s caring for are being slowly killed to gain control over their trust fund. A+

8:00 pm – BABY FACE (WB, 1933): Barbara Stanwyck, Theresa Harris. In this, the most notorious of the Pre-Code films, a beautiful schemer sleeps her way to the top of a banking empire. A+

9:30 pm – THE DIVORCEE (MGM, 1930): Norma Shearer, Chester Morris.  When Shearer discovers hubby Chester Morris has been unfaithful, she repays him in kind. A

11:00 pm – FOOTLIGHT PARADE (UA, 1958): James Cagney, Joan Blondell & Ruby Keeler. Cagney shines in this musical as a Broadway producer and Blondell is equally fine as his loyal secretary. A-

1:00 am – GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 (WB, 1933): Joan Blondell, Guy Kibbee. It‘s one of Busby’s Berkeley’s great Depression musicals with Blondell and Rogers as chorus girls on the make. A

2:45 am – SEARCH FOR BEAUTY (Paramount, 1934): Buster Crabbe, Ida Lupino. Con artists dupe two Olympians into serving as editors of a magazine which fronts for salacious photos and stories. B-

4:15 am – TAXI (WB, 1932): Jimmy Cagney, Loretta Young. Independent cabbie Cagney fights a syndicate. It’s one of Cagney’s best. A

September 6

8:00 am – THE APARTMENT (UA, 1960): Jack Lemmon, Fred MacMurray, & Shirley MacLaine. An aspiring executive lets his boss use his apartment for trysts, only to fall for the big chief's mistress. A

10:30 am – YOUNG DR. KILDARE (MGM, 1938): Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore. Medical school graduate Dr. Kildare leaves his father’s practice to take a position as an intern at Blair General Hospital. B-

12:00 pm – WILD HORSE STAMPEDE (Monogram, 1943): Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson. Two cowboys are hired to protect railroad workers from rampaging Indians. C+

1:15 pm – LAND OF THE PHAROAHS (WB, 1955): Jack Hawkins, Joan Collins. Entertaining nonsense from Howard Hawks about the building of the Great Pyramid. B-

5:45 pm – ROLLERCOASTER (Universal, 1977): George Segal, Richard Widmark. A terrorist attacks amusement parks across the country. C+

8:00 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+

10:15 pm – BOUND FOR GLORY (UA, 1976): David Carradine, Melinda Dillon. Carradine stars in this biopic about singer Woody Guthrie. B-

2:45 am – HOUSE OF WOMEN (WB, 1962): Shirley Knight, Andrew Duggan. A young woman is wrongly implicated in a crime and sentenced to five years. C-

4:15 am – CAGED (WB, 1950): Eleanor Parker, Hope Emerson & Agnes Moorehead. It’s the Godmother of all women-in-prison movies. Look for lots of over-the-top acting and scenery chewing. C

September 7

6:00 am – MIN AND BILL (MGM, 1930): Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery. In their most popular pairing, Dressler and Beery play two waterfront characters trying to prove to the welfare board that they are fit parents. A

7:15 am – TUGBOAT ANNIE (MGM, 1933): Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery. Dressler is the title character, a tugboat captain, and Beery her husband. B+

8:45 am – RUGGLES OF RED GAP (Paramount, 1935): Charles Laughton, Mary Boland. Laughton stars as Marmaduke Ruggles, an English valet won in a poker game by an unmannered cowboy and his wife. B+

10:30 am – I’M NO ANGEL (Paramount, 1933): Mae West, Cary Grant. A carnival dancer evades the law and invades high society. A-

1:45 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 – PLANET OF THE APES (Fox, 1968): Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowell, & Kim Hunter. Astronauts land in a planet in the distant future where apes are the dominant species. A

10:00 pm – BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (Paramount, 1970): James Franciscus, Charlton Heston. This sequel to Planet of the Apes has the astronauts facing both apes and telekinetic humans. B-

12:00 am – WITHIN OUR GATES (Micheaux Book & Film Co., 1920): Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements. The earliest surviving film made by an African-American, it’s the story of a young woman who raises funds for a poor school. Silent. C

2:00 am – THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (Igor Film/Casbah Film, 1966): Brahim Hadjadj, Jean Martin, & Yacef Saadi. This is a docudrama about the Algerian war for independence from France. A

4:15 am – HANDS OVER THE CITY (Galatea/WB, 1963): Salvo Randone, Rod Steiger. A corrupt developer is exposed when one of his buildings collapses. A

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  1. Village of the damned sounds like an interesting story

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