February 8–February 14


THE GRADUATE (February 8, 3:30 am): 1967 is a landmark year in cinema. Films were more daring and adventurous such as Bonnie and ClydeIn the Heat of the NightPoint BlankBelle de JourClosely Watched Trains and The Graduate. The latter features Dustin Hoffman in his breakout role as Benjamin Braddock, a recent college graduate trying to figure out what to do with his life. One of his parents' friends, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), a bored and sexy suburban housewife, has something in mind for Benjamin. She carries on an affair that pushes the envelope of sexuality that was rarely seen before in an American film. It's funny, it's dramatic, it's got a great soundtrack from Simon and Garfunkel (even though it's three songs sung differently), and it challenges the conventional Hollywood movie fan. "Plastics."

TOOTSIE (February 12, 8:00 pm): This is a movie that has disaster written all over it. How many times can Hollywood make a movie about a man dressed as a woman? And why in the world would anyone cast Dustin Hoffman for that role? However, this is an outstanding and genuinely funny film largely for Hoffman's performance. (Yes, I'm recommending two Hoffman films this week. He's that good.) My praise of Hoffman isn't meant to dismiss the rest of the cast, which is terrific. Bill Murray has a small part and steals every scene he's in. Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning and director Syndey Pollack (his first, but definitely not his last acting role in years) are exceptional. And the scene in which Hoffman's character reveals his true identity is outrageous and makes me laugh every time I see it.


THE GREAT ESCAPE (February 10, 8:00 pm): Based on one of the biggest mass escapes from a POW camp in World War II, it boasts an all-star cast that includes James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Donald, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson. The plot is relatively simple: The Nazis have built an escape-proof camp to which every escape artist is being sent to stop them from even thinking about another attempt. But the duty of every prisoner is to escape, and this lot is up to the task. It’s a great film that never stops moving with a plot that adds new obstacles and challenges to the prisoners’ dilemma. Attenborough is “The Big X,” a veteran escape artist whose arrival sets the plot in motion. The film also solidified the image of Steve McQueen as the King of Cool through his portrayal of the individualistic prisoner Hilts, as witnessed by the scene near the end when he attempts to jump a border fence with a stolen motorcycle. This is also a film that one can watch numerous times without getting bored. Watch for the scene where the Germans catch Attenborough and Gordon Jackson. It’s one of the best ironic scenes in the history of the movies. Also keep an eye of James Garner and Donald Pleasance and the chemistry between them. The Great Escape is one of those rare movies that comes along every once in a while where the audience is entertained through the use of intelligent plotting and restrained performances. That’s the main reason I have watched it numerous times, even though I’m not exactly a Steve McQueen fan.

CASABLANCA (February 14, 8:00 pm): When recommending movies I usually look for the interesting, but not so well known. Not in this case – this is a no-brainer if ever one existed. It’s one of the greatest romances ever made and turned Humphrey Bogart into a most unlikely romantic hero. It’s easy, however, to be romantic when Ingrid Bergman is the object of one’s affections. I don’t think Bergman has looked any more beautiful than in this film, and the way she was photographed only added to her beauty. We all know the story and the fact it’s a metaphor for America’s becoming involved in the war. But what has always amazed me is the number of lines from the movie that have found their way into pop culture, like “Round up the usual suspects,” “I’m shocked . . .shocked to discover gambling is going on here,” and “I’m just a poor corrupt official.” Behind Bogart and Bergman is one of the greatest supporting casts ever assembled, with several European refugees, such as Marcel Dalio, in the mix. I watch this just about every time it airs. I’m hooked.

WE DISAGREE ON ... STEEL MAGNOLIAS (February 13, 8:00 pm)

ED: A-. There are few things done better than a good “women’s” film, and this excellent comedy-drama-romance of a close knit group of six Southern women of varying ages in a small Louisiana town fits the bill perfectly. We view the ongoing relationship between the six women who frequent the same beauty parlor as the film alternates between humorous, everyday happenings that bring out good-natured quips and the seriousness and heartache that accompany life's unexpected tragedies. The casting is superb and the film a peerless example of ensemble acting, with Sally Field (M'Lynn), a mother still worried over her very grown up daughter; Julia Roberts (Shelby), a young woman who feels that having a baby is worth risking everything; Dolly Parton (Truvy), the married but lonely beautician who lights up when her shop is full of customers; Olympia Dukakis (Clairee), the gossipy widow and town bigwig; Daryl Hannah (Annelle), a young woman with a mysterious past who gets a job at the parlor working for Truvy; and Shirley MacLaine (Ouiser), a cantankerous older spinster who carries her dog around and exchanges barbs with M’Lynn’s husband, Drum (Tom Skerrit). Although the plot is extremely manipulative and somewhat predictable, the impeccable writing sees everything through to a satisfying conclusion. And pay close attention for the score of Georges Delerue, which gets the viewer through some of the slower spots.

DAVID: C-. I guess it's nice to see Ed's feminine side. But that's probably the best part of this overacted, overscripted faux sensitive movie that seems to never end. Its goal is to make you laugh and then to make you cry – and it doesn't care how manufactured it has to get to make viewers feel those emotions. Steel Magnolias boasts an impressive ensemble cast, but the script is so contrived that it leaves the actresses playing stereotypes rather than real people. The film is about a half-dozen women in the South who spend their days at a hair salon owned by the kindly Truvy (Dolly Parton), who's in a loveless marriage. Clairee (Olympia Dukakis) is the town gossip – though they all love gossip – while Annelle (Daryl Hannah) is the new girl at the salon trying to start over, Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine) is the town's rich bitch, M'Lynn (Sally Field) is the protective mother to Shelby (Julia Roberts), the martyred pretty young thing who dies a tragic and prolonged death. Field gets her monologue yelling at God at Shelby's gravesite. I don't care about any of the characters and except for the dying Shelby, there's little in the way of a story. Among the Hollywood heavyweights, country singer Parton easily gives the best performance. And what's with all the strange first names?

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

February 8

7:00 am – MISTER ROBERTS (WB, 1955): Henry Fonda, James Cagney, & Jack Lemmon. An officer aboard a supply ship tries to transfer to a fighting ship. B+

9:30 am – A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM (WB, 1935): James Cagney, Joe E. Brown, & Mickey Rooney. Director Max Reinhardt’s staging of the Shakespeare play. Cagney (Bottom) and Rooney (Puck) are excellent. B-

11:45 am – I DREAM TOO MUCH (RKO, 1935): Lily Pons, Henry Fonda. A composer sets the stage for discord when he pushes his wife into a singing career. C+

1:30 pm THAT GIRL FROM PARIS (RKO, 1937): Lily Pons, Jack Oakie. A French opera star in hiding hooks up with a swing band. C

3:30 pm – FLYING DOWN TO RIO (RKO, 1933): Dolores Del Rio, Fred Astaire, & Ginger Rogers. Astaire and Rogers enliven this otherwise ordinary story of a bandleader who finds love and success in Brazil. B-

8:00 pm – BABY DOLL (WB, 1956): Karl Malden, Carroll Baker, & Eli Wallach. A child bride holds her husband at bay while flirting with a sexy Italian farmer. B-

10:00 pm – PATTON (Fox, 1970): George C. Scott, Karl Malden. Scott won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the acerbic military genius. A+

1:00 am – THE HUSTLER (Fox, 1961): Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, & Piper Laurie. A pool shark falls into the clutches of a crooked gambler. A-

3:30 am – THE GRADUATE (Embassy, 1967): Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, & Katharine Ross. A recent college graduate has an affair with his neighbor’s wife, and later falls for her daughter. A-

February 9

7:15 am – ALL THE BROTHERS WERE VALIANT (MGM, 1953): Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger, & Ann Blyth. Taylor and Granger are two whaling brothers both in love with the same woman (Blyth). C

9:00 am – MEET JOHN DOE (Columbia, 1941): Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck. A reporter’s fraudulent story makes a tramp into a national political hero and a pawn of big business. A-

11:15 am – THE HANGING TREE (WB, 1959): Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, & Karl Malden. An enigmatic doctor (Cooper) tries to control the lives of those he saves. B+

3:30 pm – BILLY BUDD (Allied Artists, 1962): Robert Ryan, Peter Ustinov. Ustinov directed and starred in this adaptation of Melville’s tale of good vs. evil aboard a ship. B+

5:45 pm – LOGAN’S RUN (MGM, 1976): Michael York, Jenny Agutter. A future police officer uncovers the deadly secret behind a society that worships youth. B-

8:00 pm – CABARET (Allied Artists, 1972): Liza Minnelli, Michael York, & Helmut Griem. Minnelli is girlie club entertainer who romances two men while the Nazis rise to power around them. A

10:15 pm – BARRY LYNDON (WB, 1975): Ryan O’Neal, Marisa Berenson, & Patrick Magee. An Irish rogue cheats his way to the top of 18th-century British society. A-

1:30 am – A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (WB, 1971): Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee. In future Britain, a jailed teenage gangster volunteers for experimental aversion therapy, but t doesn’t go as planned. A

4:00 am – THE ENTERTAINER (Goldwyn, 1960): Laurence Olivier, Brenda DeBanzie. Olivier is terrific in this drama about a third-rate song and dance man reduced to playing in ramshackle dives. A+

February 10

8:00 am – THE ROMAN SPRING OF MRS. STONE (WB, 1961): Vivien Leigh, Warren Beatty. A fading stage star gets caught up in the decadent life of modern Rome when she hires a male companion. C+

9:45 am – THE BROADWAY MELODY (MGM, 1929) Anita Page, Bessie Love. An early musical about how love breaks up a sister vaudeville act. C

11:45 am – OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS (MGM, 1928): Joan Crawford, Johnny Mack Brown. It’s the film that made Crawford a star. She plays a flapper who loses her millionaire boyfriend to another woman. Silent. B-

1:15 pm – MANNEQUIN (MGM, 1937): Joan Crawford, Spencer Tracy. The wife of a small-time gangster falls for a fishing magnate. B+

4:30 pm – CAIN AND MABEL (MGM, 1936): Clark Gable, Marion Davies. A publicity romance between a prizefighter and a showgirl turns into the real thing. B

8:00 pm – THE GREAT ESCAPE (UA, 1963): Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, & James Garner. The great docudrama is about the largest POW escape ever to take place in Nazi Germany. A+

11:00 pm – BULLITT (WB, 1968): Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset. When his witness is killed Detective Frank Bullitt (McQueen) takes his own steps to solve the case with a great car chase. B+

1:00 am – PAPILLON (Allied Artists, 1973): Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman. Two prisoners on Devil’s Island devote all their time to planning their escape. A

3:45 am – THIS LAND IS MINE (RKO, 1943): Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara. A shy French schoolteacher (Laughton) joins the French resistance and becomes a martyr for liberty. A

5:30 am – STEP LIVELY (RKO, 1944): Frank Sinatra, George Murphy. Fly-by-night producers dodge bill collectors while trying for one big hit. B+

February 11

7:00 am – A FAREWELL TO ARMS (Paramount; 1932): Helen Hayes, Gary Cooper. An American soldier in World War I France falls for a spirited English nurse. A-

8:30 am – THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA (WB, 1938): Paul Muni, Joseph Shildkraut, & Gale Sondergaard. Muni is the great French writer Emile Zola, who braved the mobs defending Captain Dreyfuss. A+

10:30 am – THE LETTER (WB, 1940): Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall. Bette shoots a man to death and claims it was self-defense until a blackmailer comes up with incriminating evidence. A+

12:15 pm – THE LETTER (Paramount, 1929): Jeanne Eagles, O.P. Heggie & Herbert Marshall. Planter’s wife Eagles shoots her lover and claims it was self-defense. A-

1:30 pm – THE GREAT ZIEGFIELD (MGM, 1936): William Powell, Luise Reiner, & Myrna Loy. This lavishly filmed biography of Broadway’s great showman won Reiner her first Oscar. B

6:45 pm – SHE DONE HIM WRONG (Paramount, 1933): Mae West, Cary Grant. A saloon singer fights off smugglers, and escaped con, and a Salvation Army officer out to reform her. A+

8:00 pm – IMITATION OF LIFE (Universal, 1934): Claudette Colbert, Louise Beavers. A white widow and her black housekeeper go into business but almost losing their daughters in the process. A-

10:00 pm – 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

11:45 pm – TOP HAT (RKO, 1935): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. Quintessential with a great Irving Berlin score highlighted by Fred and Ginger’s dancing to “Cheek to Cheek” It’s one for the ages. A+

1:30 am – THE MOON AND SIXPENCE (U.A., 1942): George Sanders, Herbert Marshall. Loosely inspired by the life of Gauguin, a man abandons his middle-class life to start painting. A-

3:15 am – THE SON OF MONTE CRISTO (UA, 1941): Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett. A freedom fighter leads a double life in his battle against a ruthless dictator. B+

February 12

7:00 am – VIVA VILLA (MGM, 1934): Wallace Beery, Leo Carrillo & Fay Wray. Beery is at the top of his game as Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa in this sweeping biopic. A

9:00 am – THE RICHEST GIRL IN THE WORLD (RKO, 1934): Miriam Hopkins, Fay Wray. Heiress Hopkins trades places with secretary Wray to discourage fortune hunters, but plans backfire when she falls in love. C-

10:30 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. B+

2:15 pm – THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (WB, 1948): Errol Flynn, Viveca Lindfors: The legendary lover saves his queen from traitors. B+

4:15 pm – THE GUNFIGHTER (Fox, 1950): Gregory Peck, Helen Westcott. The fastest gun in the West tries to escape his reputation. A

5:45 pm – MAROONED (Columbia, 1969): Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, & David Janssen. Three astronauts face a slow death when the rockets fail during their voyage. C-

8:00 pm – TOOTSIE (Columbia, 1982): Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, & Terri Garr. Hoffman stars as an unemployed actor who hits it big on a soap opera as a woman. A

10:00 pm – KRAMER VS. KRAMER (Columbia, 1979): Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep. When his wife leaves him, an ad executive gets a crash course in parenting. A-

12:00 am – THE DEER HUNTER (Universal, 1978): Robert De Niro, John Cazale. Michael Cimino directed this tale of three factory co-workers and friends who are drafted to fight in Vietnam. A-

3:15 am – GOODFELLAS (WB, 1990): Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, & Joe Pesci. Martin Scorsese based this gangster epic on the true story of Mob associate Henry Hill. A+

5:45 am – BLOODBROTHERS (WB, 1978): Tony LoBianco, Richard Gere. A young man's drive to teach causes a rift with his family of construction workers. C

February 13

9:30 am – THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (U.A. 1960): Yul Brenner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen. An all-star cast enlivens, this Western version of Kurosawa’s The Seven SamuraiA

12:00 pm – THE AMERICANIZATION OF EMILY (MGM, 1964): James Garner, Julie Andrews. British war widow Andrews falls for opportunistic Naval officer Garner during World War II. A-

4:00 pm – BEST FRIENDS (WB, 1982): Burt Reynolds, Goldie Hawn. Longtime roommates and professional partners find they aren't prepared to make it legal. B-

8:00 pm – STEEL MAGNOLIAS (Tri-Star, 1989): Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine. Small-town Southern women help each other through the trials of life. Ratings: See above.

10:15 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

12:30 am – LOLITA (MGM, 1962): Peter Sellers, James Mason, & Sue Lyon. Stanley Kubrick’s classic about middle-aged man Mason in love with teenager Lyon. B+

3:15 am – THE STORY OF THREE LOVES (MGM, 1953): James Mason, Moira Shearer. A bittersweet trio of stories centered around passengers on an ocean liner recalling their greatest loves. B+

February 14

6:00 am – FANNY (WB, 1961): Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier. An old waterfront character tries to help his daughter when her lover leaves her pregnant. B

8:30 am – LOVE AFFAIR (Columbia, 1939): Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer. Near-tragic misunderstandings threaten a shipboard romance. A-

10:15 am – THE AWFUL TRUTH (Columbia, 1937): Cary Grant, Irene Dunne. A divorcing couple can’t help but sabotage each other’s new romances in this fine screwball comedy. A

12:00 pm – THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (MGM, 1940): Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, & James Stewart. Society lady Hepburn finds herself being wooed by ex-husband Grant and tabloid reporter Stewart. A-

4:00 pm – BORN YESTERDAY (Columbia, 1950): Judy Holliday, William Holden, & Broderick Crawford. A crooked tycoon hires a tutor to teach his girlfriend Holliday etiquette with unexpected results. A-

6:00 pm – SABRINA (Paramount, 1954): William Holden, Humphrey Bogart, & Audrey Hepburn. Two wealthy brothers fall for the chauffeur's daughter. A

8:00 pm – 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+

10:00 pm – 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+

12:15 am – JEZEBEL (WB, 1938): Bette Davis, Henry Fonda. Davis is a headstrong young belle whose willfulness threatens all around her, especially her relationship with her beau, Fonda. B

2:15 am – WUTHERING HEIGHTS (Goldwyn, 1939): Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier. Oberon is a young noblewoman with a lifelong attraction to stable boy Olivier, who later makes himself a wealthy man. A+

4:15 am – LYDIA (UA, 1941): Merle Oberon, Alan Marshal, & Edna May Oliver. An unmarried woman stages a reunion with her former suitors to recapture the romance of her past. A

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1 comment:

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