January 23–January 31


SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (January 27, 6:00 pm): I'm not a fan of musicals so when I recommend one, watch it. Singin' in the Rain is the greatest musical ever made. It's funny, it's charming, the singing is great and the dancing is unbelievable. While Gene Kelly's numbers are spectacular, Donald O'Connor's performance of "Make 'Em Laugh" is the best in the film. O'Connor had a unique physical style of dance that included him taking a number of pratfalls and other things that didn't do anything good to his body. While the plot isn't exceptionally strong, it's clever – spoofing Hollywood's transition from silent films to talkies.

CLAIRE'S KNEE (January 29, 2:00 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.


COMA (January 28, 4:30 am): A neat thriller that combines the best of the conspiracy theory with the hospital soaper. A large number of healthy patients after undergoing routine operations are turning up in anesthesia-induced comas. When one of the victims is the best friend of Dr. Susan Wheeler (Genevieve Bujold), she decides to investigate and discovers a black market organ transplant operation. It’s based on the best seller by Robin Cook, adapted and directed by Michael Crichton, who has his M.D. from Harvard, but decided in favor of writing fiction over practicing medicine. Crichton plays on our natural fears of hospitals with several scenes that will stay with the viewer.. Perfect to record and watch later, preferably in the dark.

20,000 YEARS IN SING-SING (January 31, 10:00 am): The only pairing of Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis is a memorable one in a prison drama based on Warden Lewis E. Lawes’ book. It still retains its power today, with Tracy as Tommy Connors, a hardened criminal who becomes locked in a battle of wills with Warden Paul Long (Arthur Byron). When Connors’ lawyer, Joe Finn (Louis Calhern), attacks girlfriend Fay Wilson (Bette Davis), Warden Long gives Connors leave on the honor system to visit her, as she’s critically ill. When Connor discovers that Finn is responsible for her injuries he attacks him. Fay shots and kills Finn, Connors takes the rap and is sentenced to the electric chair. Tracy and Davis are marvelous, and Calhern is wonderfully sleazy. Pre-Code at its best.


ED: B+. An intelligently made, highly affecting and well-meaning film that earned its star, Burt Lancaster, an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. But there are a few problems with it. One is its length, as it seems to drone on and on. Another is that director John Frankenheimer and screenwriter Guy Trosper are so reverential towards their subject (who, at age 75, was still in prison when this movie was made) that they never really come to grips with how to fully dramatize the life of a convicted killer who spent more than 40 years in solitary and who rejected humans for the companionship of birds. It’s never made clear how Robert Stroud (Lancaster) become transformed as the years pass, and thus we watch at a distance, as we would with a documentary. One has to applaud Lancaster for taking on such a difficult role, although an actor with his physicality in this sort of role comes off as semi-comatose at times. Compare this with his performance in The Train.

DAVID: A+. There are few actors who had the presence of Burt Lancaster  that voice, the athletic build and his ability to become one with the characters he portrayed. In this 1962 film, he plays Robert Stroud, a murderer, who from all accounts was not a nice guy. In the film, Stroud has a dark side with a mother complex, but comes across overall as a decent person. While in solitary confinement in Leavenworth, Stroud adopts and trains a sickly sparrow. After a while, he ends up with an entire bird collection and inspires other inmates to get birds. When some of the animals get sick, Stroud discovers ways to cure them, and becomes an expert on bird diseases, publishing articles and eventually a book on the subject. The concept may sound boring, but the screenplay is outstanding and the acting is first-rate. Lancaster is essentially the entire film, but the supporting cast that comes in and out of the movie is excellent. That includes Telly Savalas as a fellow prisoner, Thelma Ritter in the performance of her career as Stroud's mother (even though she's in less than a half-dozen scenes), and Karl Malden as the warden at Leavenworth and later at Alcatraz. The film does an excellent job of showing isolationism, the cruelty of prison and lack of rehabilitation, but there are some heartwarming moments in which human decency is on full display. Most of the film – and the book of which it is based  takes place at Leavenworth. Stroud served some time at Alcatraz, where he wasn't permitted to have birds making the title inaccurate.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

January 23

6:00 am – LOVE BEGINS AT TWENTY (WB, 1936): Warren Hull, Hugh Herbert. A henpecked husband tries to help his daughter marry the man she loves and his wife loathes. C

7:00 am – CURTAIN CALL (RKO, 1940): Barbara Read, Alan Mowbary. Two producers get back at a temperamental star by putting her in a sure flop. C

9:45 am – ROAD GANG (WB, 1936): Donald Woods, Kay Linaker. A reporter exposes corruption on a southern chain gang. C+

11:00 am – KITTY FOYLE (RKO, 1942): Ginger Rogers, Dennis Morgan. Rogers won an Oscar for her portrayal of a poor girl who suffers scandal and heartbreak after falling in love with a high-society boy. A-

1:00 pm – A MAN TO REMEMBER (RKO, 1938): Anne Shirley, Edward Ellis. A small-town doctor battles crooked politicians during a polio epidemic. C

2:30 pm – OUR VINES HAVE TENDER GRAPES (MGM, 1945): Edward G. Robinson, Margaret O’Brien. Dalton Trumbo scripted this tale of small town life in Wisconsin. It’s as pink as they come and a real hoot. B+

6:00 pm – THE SANDPIPER (MGM, 1965): Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton. An Episcopal priest falls for a married artist.  Godawful. D

8:00 pm – THE SEVENTH VEIL (GED, 1945): James Mason, Ann Todd, & Herbert Lom. The old chestnut about the concert pianist suffering from amnesia has never been done better. It’s a superb psychological drama. A+

10:00 pm – THEY WERE SISTERS (Gainsborough, 1945): James Mason, Phyliss Calvert. Three sisters suffer through a variety of marital problems. B-

12:00 am – ODD MAN OUT (Universal, 1947): James Mason, Cyril Cusack, & Robert Newton.  Carol Reed directed this excellent noir about a holdup in Belfast by Irish nationalists that goes wrong. A+

2:15 am – THE WICKED LADY (Gainsborough, 1945): Margaret Lockwood, James Mason. A married woman finds new thrills as a masked robber on the highways. B

4:15 am – THEY MET IN THE DARK (GED, 1943): James Mason, Joyce Howard. A naval commander tries to find the beautiful spy who tricked him into revealing secrets. C+

January 24

8:15 am – LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE (WB, 1951): Ruth Roman, Richard Todd. An actress champions the cause of a man she believes is falsely accused of killing his wife. B-

10:00 am – THE SCARF (UA, 1951): John Ireland, Mercedes McCambridge. An escaped mental patient tries to prove he's not a serial killer. B-

11:30 am – 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-

8:00 pm – CAGED (WB, 1950): Eleanor Parker, Hope Emerson, & Agnes Moorehead. It’s the Godmother of all women-in-prison movies. B-

9:45 pm – HOUSE OF WOMEN (WB, 1962): Shirley Knight, Andrew Duggan. A young woman is wrongly implicated in a crime and sentenced to five years. C-

11:30 pm – LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (WB, 1933): Barbara Stanwyck, Preston Foster, & Lyle Talbot. Bank robber Stanwyck  is sent to prison, where she becomes boss of her cellblock. A

12:45 am – CONDEMNED WOMEN (RKO, 1938): Louis Hayward, Sally Eilers. A women’s prison boils over when cruel treatment ends in a murder of one of the inmates. B-

2:15 am – SO YOUNG, SO BAD (UA, 1950): Paul Henried, Anne Jackson.  A crusading psychiatrist helps troubled reform school girls in this early JD film.  Look for Anne Francis and Rita Moreno. C+

4:00 am – RIOT IN JUVENILE PRISON (UA, 1959): Jerome Thor, Marcia Henderson. A psychologist tries to reform a juvenile prison run by a sadistic warden. F

January 25

6:00 am – ORPHANS OF THE STORM (U.A., 1921): Lillian Gish, Dorothy Gish. A story of two sisters, one of them blind, who fight to find each other during the French Revolution. Silent. A-

11:00 am – GO, JOHNNY GO (Hal Roach, 1959): Alan Freed, Jimmy Clanton. Tale of a poor orphan boy named Johnny Melody and his rise to rock ‘n’ roll stardom helped by Freed and Chuck Berry. C-

12:15 pm – AUNTIE MAME (WB, 1958): Rosalind Russell, Forrest Tucker, & Coral Browne. An orphaned young boy goes to live with his free-spirited aunt (Russell). A-

2:45 pm – THE SECRET GARDEN (MGM, 1949): Margaret O’Brien, Herbert Marshall. A orphaned girl changes the lives of those she encounters at a remote estate. A-

4:30 pm – DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (MGM, 1965): Omar Sharif, Julie Christie. Director David Lean’s adaptation of Pasternak’s novel about two lovers caught up in the Russian Revolution. A+

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 – 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

12:15 am – THE GETAWAY (Nat’l General, 1972): Steve McQueen, Ali McGraw. A recently released ex-con and his loyal wife go on the run after a heist goes awry. B+

2:30 am – MRS. MINIVER (MGM, 1942): Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon. A British family struggles to survive the first days of World War II. C+

5:00 am  – THE NEGRO SOLDIER (US. War Dept., 1944): Documentary cameras capture the contributions of African-American soldiers during World War II. A+

January 26

7:45 am – THIEVES FALL OUT (WB, 1941): Eddie Albert, Joan Leslie, & Jane Darwell. A young man tries to rescue his grandmother from kidnapers. C

9:00 am – THE WAGONS ROLL AT NIGHT (WB, 1941): Humphrey Bogart, Eddie Albert. Circus owner Bogart takes in small-town boy Albert and teaches him to be a lion tamer in this remake of Kid GalahadC-

10:30 am – JANIE GETS MARRIED (WB, 1946): Joan Leslie, Robert Hutton. A war bride helps her husband adjust to civilian life. C+

12:15 pm – CINDERELLA JONES (WB, 1946): Joan Leslie, Robert Alda. Leslie can only claim her inheritance if she marries a genius. Trivial. C-

3:15 pm – BROTHERS IN THE SADDLE (RKO, 1949): Tim Holt, Richard Martin. When he thinks his brother has let him down, a cowboy goes bad. C

5:45 pm – COME ON DANGER! (RKO, 1932): Tim Keene, Julie Haydon, & Roscoe Ates. A woman turns into an outlaw to save her ranch. C

8:00 pm – MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION (Universal, 1954): Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson. A playboy becomes a doctor to right to the wrong he did to a sightless widow. B

10:00 pm – ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (Universal, 1956): Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson. Douglas Sirk directed this classic soaper about a lonely widow who defies small town gossip when she falls for a younger man. A

12:00 am – LUCY GALLANT (Paramount, 1955): Jane Wyman, Charlton Heston. A fashion designer sacrifices happiness to build a string of clothing stores. C+

4:00 am – SO BIG (WB, 1953): Jane Wyman, Sterling Hayden. A schoolteacher-turned-farmer fights to save the land and her son. B

January 27 – Tribute to Debbie Reynolds

6:00 am – IT STARTED WITH A KISS (MGM, 1959): Glenn Ford, Debbie Reynolds. After a whirlwind courtship, an Army officer and his wacky wife try to make their marriage work. C+

7:45 am  – BUNDLE OF JOY (RKO, 1956): Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds. Shopgirl Debbie is mistaken for the mother of an abandoned baby. C-

9:30 am – 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

12:30 pm – THE TENDER TRAP (MGM, 1955): Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds. Sinatra is a hip bachelor who meets his match in the feisty Reynolds. C

2:30 pm – HIT THE DECK (MGM, 1955): Jane Powell, Tony Martin. Sailors on leave in San Francisco get mixed up in romance and show business. C+

4:30 pm – I LOVE MELVIN (MGM, 1953): Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds. Photographer's assistant O’Connor promises to turn chorus girl Reynolds into a cover girl. C+

6:00 pm – SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (Columbia, 1952): Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, & Donald O’Connor. A great cast stars in this great musical satire of the early days of sound musicals. A+

8:00 pm – THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN (MGM, 1964): Debbie Reynolds, Ed Begley. Reynolds stars in this musical bio of the rural Colorado woman who struck it rich and survived the sinking of the Titanic. B

10:30 pm – THE MATING GAME (MGM, 1959): Debbie Reynolds, Tony Randall, & Paul Douglas. A tax agent falls for a farm girl whose father he’s investigating. A-

12:30 am – THE CATERED AFFAIR (MGM, 1956): Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, & Debbie Reynolds. A working-class couple is determined to give their daughter a lavish wedding – whether she wants it or not. A

2:15 am – THE SINGING NUN (MGM, 1966): Debbie Reynolds, Ricardo Montalban & Greer Garson. Reynolds headlines this fanciful biography of the Belgian nun who briefly made the hit parade. B

4:00 am – HOW SWEET IT IS (Nat. Gen., 1968): James Garner, Debbie Reynolds. A married couple's working vacation in Paris turns into a battle to stay faithful. C-

January 28

6:00 am – WORLD WITHOUT END (Allied Artists, 1956): Hugh Marlowe, Rod Taylor. Returning astronauts encounter a time warp and end up on a future Earth populated by mutants. B

9:30 am – UP IN SMOKE (Allied Artists, 1957): The Bowery Boys. Sach sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for help betting on the horses. C-

10:45 am – IN THE MONEY (Allied Artists, 1958): The Bowery Boys. Sach and the gang unknowingly escort a poodle loaded with hidden diamonds from New York to London. C-

12:00 pm – THE DIARY OF A MADMAN (U.A., 1963): Vincent Price, Nancy Kovack. The body of a magistrate is taken over by the soul of a murderer. B-

2:00 pm – RODAN (Toho, 1957): Kenji Sawara, Yumi Shirakawa. A bug-eating pterodactyl flies out of a coal mine and wrecks Japan with sonic booms. Listen for George Takei as one of the voices dubbed in. C+

3:30 pm – THE LONG VOYAGE HOME (U.A., 1940): Thomas Mitchell, John Wayne. John Ford directed this tale of a merchant ship’s crew surviving the loneliness of the sea and the coming of war. A

5:30 pm – THE QUIET MAN (Republic, 1952): John Wayne, Victor McLaglen, & Maureen O’Hara. Irish ex-boxer Wayne returns to Ireland and searches for a proper wife. B

8:00 pm – THE LATE SHOW (WB, 1977): Art Carney, Lily Tomlin. An aging private eye hooks up with a Hollywood eccentric to investigate his partner's murder. B-

9:45 pm – 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

12:00 pm –  NASHVILLE (Paramount, 1975): Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin. Country music stars get caught up in tangled affairs and an independent's political campaign  C

2:45 am – SCANNERS (Nelson, 1981): Jennifer O’Neill, Patrick McGoohan. A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him. C+

4:30 am – COMA (MGM, 1978): Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas. A lady doctor investigates a series of strange deaths and disappearing bodies at her hospital. A-

January 29

6:30 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

8:15 am – BORN TO DANCE (MGM, 1936): Eleanor Powell, James Stewart. Stewart sings! Entertaining nonsense about a sailor who meets a girl at the Lonely Hearts Club and falls in love. C+

10:00 am – RECKLESS (MGM, 1935): Jean Harlow, William Powell, & Franchot Tone. Broadway star Harlow dumps sports promoter Powell for drunken millionaire Tone, a marriage that leads to tragedy. C

3:00 pm – GILDA (Columbia, 1946): Rita Hayworth, Glenn Ford. A gambler runs into his old flame in South America, but unfortunately, she’s married to his new boss. B

5:00 pm – FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD  (MGM, 1967): Julie Christie, Peter Finch. A young woman can’t decide from among three suitors in this adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel. B

8:00 pm – SHENANDOAH (Universal, 1965): James Stewart, Doug McClure. A Virginia farmer fights to keep his family together during the Civil War. B

10:00 pm – FRIENDLY PERSUASION (Allied Artists, 1956): Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire. When Southern troops pass through Indiana, a Quaker family finds its pacifist principles are tested. C+

12:30 am – THE RACKET (Paramount, 1928): Thomas Meighan, Marie Provost. A police captain is out to nab a gang leader responsible for killing a policeman. Silent. A

2:00 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+

4:00 am – MY NIGHT AT MAUD’S (Path Contemporary Films, 1970): Jean-Louis Trintignant, Francoise Fabian. A young man is snowed in with his best friend's amorous mistress. A-

January 30

6:30 am – EDGE OF DARKNESS (WB, 1943): Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan. Stirring tale of the Norwegian resistance to the Nazis. A-

8:45 am – MISSION TO MOSCOW (WB, 1943): Walter Huston, Ann Harding. Ambassador Joseph E. Davies and his work with the Soviet Union is the subject of this at times outrageous propaganda film. C+

11:00 am – ESCAPE IN THE DESERT (WB, 1945): Philip Dorn, Irene Manning. Nazi spies occupy a hotel in the Southwest in this remake of The Petrified ForestC

12:30 pm – HOTEL BERLIN (WB, 1945): Faye Emerson, Helmut Dantine, & Raymond Massey. During the final days of World War II, people with a variety of stories converge on a Berlin hotel. B-

5:30 pm – OPERATION CROSSBOW (MGM, 1965): Sophia Loren, George Peppard, & Trevor Howard. Allied agents go behind enemy lines to destroy a German missile base. B

8:00 pm – MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS (MGM, 1956): Dan Dailey, Cyd Charisse, & Agnes Moorehead. A ballerina becomes a gambler's lucky charm. C+

10:00 pm – THE LAS VEGAS STORY (RKO, 1952): Jane, Russell, Victor Mature, & Vincent Price.  When newlyweds visit Las Vegas, the wife's shady past comes to the surface. C

11:45 pm –  VIVA LAS VEGAS (MGM, 1964): Vintage Elvis. He’s a racing car driver who needs money to repair his car. Ann-Margaret is a swimming instructor who needs to fall in love with Elvis. B

1:15 am – OCEAN’S ELEVEN (WB, 1960): Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, & Sammy Davis, Jr. The Rat Pack robs a Las Vegas casino. B+

3:30 am – CRASHING LAS VEGAS (Allied Artists, 1956): The Bowery Boys. Sach receives an electric shock that enables him to predict numbers. Leo Gorcey’s last Bowery Boys film. C-

January 31

6:15 am – THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS (MGM, 1950): Kathryn Grayson, Mario Lanza. A New Orleans fisherman fights snobbery to become an opera star. C+

8:00 am – FOR THE FIRST TIME (MGM, 1959): Mario Lanza, Johanna von Koczian. In his last film, Lanza is an opera star vacationing in disguise who falls in love with a deaf woman. C

12:00 pm – THE SEVEN HILLS OF ROME (MGM, 1958): Mario Lanza, Marissa Allasio. A television star unexpectedly discovers love while on vacation in Rome. C

4:00 pm – THE GREAT CARUSO (MGM, 1951): Mario Lanza, Ann Blyth. An excellent score helps Lanza portray the legendary opera tenor in this otherwise clichéd biopic. B-

8:00 pm – THE BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ (U.A., 1962): Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden. Lancaster stars in the true story of Robert Stroud, who became an expert on birds while serving a life sentence. Ratings: See above.

10:45 pm – THE PRISONER OF SHARK ISLAND (Fox, 1936): Warner Baxter, Gloria Stuart. After setting the leg of John Wilkes Booth, Dr. Samuel Mudd goes to jail as a conspirator in the assassination of Lincoln. A

12:30 am – 20,000 YEARS IN SING-SING (WB, 1933): Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis. Tracy is a con who takes the rap for a murder his girl committed.  B+

2:00 am – BRUBAKER (Fox, 1980): Robert Redford, Yaphet Kotto. The new warden of a small prison farm in Arkansas tries to clean it up of corruption after initially posing as an inmate. B+

4:15 am – INSIDE THE WALLS OF FOLSOM PRISON (WB, 1951): Steve Cochran, David Brian. A warden and his assistant clash over prison reform and trigger a violent riot. C

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1 comment:

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