February 23–February 28


STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (February 25, 4:00 pm): This is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films and that is saying a lot. Robert Walker as the crazed Bruno Anthony is hypnotically amazing. His character wants his father dead and believes he's struck a quid pro quo deal with tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger). Walker and Granger were solid actors, but Hitch brought out the best in them. Also, the plot of this film is unique and interesting. The two are strangers who meet on a train, talk about solving their problems, namely Walker's father and Haines' wife. Walker suggests they kill the other's problem and no one will be the wiser as they don't know each other. Haines thinks Walker is kidding until the latter kills the former's wife and wants Haines to kill Walker's father. The tension and drama are top-shelf.

THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (February 28, 8:00 pm): More than any film made after Casablanca, this 1948 classic showed Humphrey Bogart's versatility at a time when he could have played the tough guy with a heart of gold for the rest of his career. In this film, he is down on his luck and desperate enough to do anything. He meets another guy (Tim Holt) in a similar situation. They meet an old kooky prospector (Walter Huston in one of his finest roles) and the three decide to search for gold. Huston's son, John, wrote and directed this movie. Things go well, but Bogart's character becomes consumed with paranoia and convinced the others are trying to cheat him. While Holt holds his own, this is Bogart and Walter Huston's film. It's an excellent morality tale with an ironic ending. 


STAGECOACH (February 25, 10:00 am): This John Ford movie was not only a big hit with moviegoers at the time, but also marked a change in the maturing of the Western, emphasizing character development over mere bang-bang, shoot ‘em up action and bringing the Western out of the Bs and onto the top of the marquee. Oh yeah, there’s lots of action sequences in the film, but they’re nicely balanced by character with depth and about whom we actually care. Even John Wayne does a nice job here, though it took Ford lots of work to wrangle a good performance out of him. Watch for the Indian attack and keep your eye on the peerless stunt work by second unit director Yakima Canutt. In his Westerns, Ford always provided work for neighboring Navaho tribesmen, and even made sure they received union wages. They, in turn (as per his biography) named him “Natani Nez,” which means “Tall Leader.”

THEM! (February 26, 3:45 pm): Not only is this the best of the “big bug” films that came out in the 1950’s, but it also has elements of a noir mystery. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also one of the best “Red Scare” films of the period. The cast is terrific: James Whitmore, pre-Gunsmoke James Arness, veteran supporting actor Onslow Stevens, promising actress Joan Weldon, a young Fess Parker, and the great Edmund Gwenn. And look sharp for a very young Leonard Nimoy in a small role. It’s proof that when a sci-fi film is made intelligently, it’s a legitimate classic.

WE AGREE ON ... THE THIRD MAN (February 26, 9:45 pm)

ED: A+. The zither music by Anton Karas is the most unforgettable feature of the film and leads us to think the movie is optimistic in tone. Nothing could be further from the truth. This film is an ironical jape at postwar politics and a Europe recovering from an apocalypse. The most famous collaboration of director Carol Reed and writer Graham Greene, it has the outward structure of a suspense thriller with an inner core of postwar grotesque decadence. Holly Martens (Joseph Cotten) a simple writer of pulp Westerns, has come to Vienna to see his old friend, Harry Lime (Orson Welles), only to be told that Lime had died in an accident. In his attempt to learn the facts of his friend’s death, Cotten finds out so much that when he finally finds Lime alive and well, he wishes he were dead. Harry Lime is the epitome of decadence: evil with sardonic wit and somewhat inscrutable. Trevor Howard, as Major Calloway, gives the movie’s most understated performance as the person who clues Martens in to the seamier side of life while repeatedly telling him to just go home and forget it. Greene sees Martens as the typical American: wide-eyed, naive and trusting and it is up to the other characters in the film to disabuse him of these notions. This is so thorough that in the end he is even robbed of the illusion that Harry’s former lover, Anna (Alida Valli), actually cares for him, although the fact that she can never remember his name should have told him something.

DAVID: A+. This is, no doubt, one of the finest film noirs ever made. I'm a huge fan of Joseph Cotten, and while his performances in many movies – Citizen KaneGaslightThe Magnificent Ambersons (last week's We Agree film), Shadow of a Doubt, and Portrait of Jennie being a few examples – are great, his best is in The Third Man. The 1949 film noir has quite the pedigree. In addition to Cotten, it stars Orson Welles, Trevor Howard and Alida Valli, is directed by Carol Reed with a screenplay by Graham Greene. The acting is outstanding as is the cinematography, particularly the use of shadows, and a brilliant plot with great pacing. Cotten is Holly Martins, a pulp fiction novelist who travels to post-World War II Vienna to take a job offered by Harry Lime (Welles), a longtime friend. But before they meet, Lime dies in what appears to be a car accident as he is walking across a street – or is he? Martins asks a lot of questions and get some disturbing answers about Lime selling diluted penicillin on the black market, which has led to a number of deaths. This film has two scenes that are among cinema's best – one is on the Wiener Riesenrad, Vienna's famous Ferris wheel, with Cotten and Welles, and the climax in the sewers of that city.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

February 23

6:45 am — SAN ANTONIO (WB, 1945): Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith. A reformed rustler tracks down a band of cattle thieves and tries to reform a crooked dance-hall girl. B+

8:45 am — 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

2:45 pm — THE SEA HAWK (WB, 1940): Errol Flynn, Flora Robson, & Brenda Marshall. Flynn protects Queen Elizabeth (Robson) and Good Old England from those pesky Spaniards. B+

5:00 pm — THE SEA WOLF (WB, 1941): Edward G. Robinson, Ida Lupino, & John Garfield. A sadistic captain rescues the survivors of a shipwreck in this adaptation of Jack London’s story. A

6:30 pm — SECOND CHORUS (Paramount, 1940): Fred Astaire, Paulette Goddard. Two composers vie for the heart of their lady manager as they head for Broadway. C

8:00 pm — SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (MGM, 1954): Howard Keel, Jeff Richards. When their older brother weds, six lumberjacks decide it’s time to go courting. B

10:00 pm — THE SEVEN-PER-CENT SOLUTION (Universal, 1976): Alan Arkin, Nicol Williamson, & Vanessa Redgrave. Watson tricks Holmes into seeing Dr. Sigmund Freud for his cocaine addiction. B+

12:00 am — SHAFT (MGM, 1971): Richard Roundtree, Moses Gunn. A private eye is hired by an underworld big to find his kidnapped daughter. This is the film that helped kick off the Blaxploitation craze. A

2:00 am — 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-

4:15 am — SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (RKO, 1949): John Wayne, Joanne Dru.  An aging Calvary officer tries to prevent an Indian war days before his retirement.. A

February 24

6:00 am — THE SHEEPMAN (MGM, 1958): Glenn Ford, Shirley MacLaine, & Leslie Nielsen. Ford stars in this Western as a tough sheep rancher battling cattle baron Nielsen for land and MacLaine. B

9:30 am — SHOW BOAT (MGM, 1951): Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel. Grayson and Keel lead an all-star cast in MGM’s splashy remake of the 1936 musical about life on a Mississippi showboat. B-

11:30 am — THE SILVER CHALICE (WB, 1954): Paul Newman, Virginia Mayo. A silversmith is charged to make the chalice for The Last Supper. D-

2:00 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+

3:45 pm — THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE (Universal, 1976): Gemma Craven, Richard Chamberlain. Bryan Forbes directs this version of Cinderella. B-

6:15 pm — SMALL TOWN GIRL (MGM, 1936): Janet Gaynor, Robert Taylor. After marrying a drunken playboy, his bride tries to win his heart while he’s sober. B-

8:00 pm — SOME LIKE IT HOT (UA, 1959): Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis. Billy Wilder’s comedy about two musicians on the run from gangsters who disguise themselves as women. B+

10:15 pm — SPARTACUS  (UA, 1960): Kirk Douglas, Charles Laughton, Laurence Olivier, Jean Simmons, Peter Ustinov, & Tony Curtis. The classic screen version of one of the most famous slave revolts in history. A+

1:45 am — SPEEDY (Paramount, 1928): Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy. A young man helps his girlfriend save the family trolley business. Silent. A

3:30 am — THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS (WB, 1958): Jimmy Stewart, Murray Hamilton. Stewart has the title role in the story of Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight to Paris. A

February 25

6:00 am — SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS (WB, 1961): Warren Beatty, Natalie Wood. The sexual repression of ‘20s society drives two teen lovers nuts. Directed by Elia Kazan. B-

8:15 am — STAGE DOOR (RKO, 1937): Katherine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, & Lucille Ball. Aspiring actresses live in a boarding house while waiting for the big break. C+

10:00 am — STAGECOACH (UA, 1939): Thomas Mitchell, Claire Trevor. John Ford’s great Western with a breakout performance by John Wayne as The Ringo Kid. A+

12:00 pm — A STAR IS BORN (Selznick International, 1937): Frederic March, Janet Gaynor. A fading alcoholic leading man (March) marries the young beginner (Gaynor) he mentored to stardom. A+

2:00 pm — THE STORY OF G. I. JOE (UA, 1945): Burgess Meredith, Robert Mitchum. War correspondent Ernie Pyle travels with the troops through North Africa and Italy. B

4:00 pm — STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (WB, 1951): Robert Walker, Farley Granger. Hitchcock’s classic about a psycho socialite determined to drag a pro tennis player into his web of murder. A+

5:45 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+

8:00 pm — SUMMER OF ’42 (WB, 1971): Jennifer O’Neil, Gary Grimes & Jerry Houser. A high school student falls in love, for the first time, with a World War II bride. B+

10:00 pm — THE SUNDOWNERS (WB, 1960): Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr. An Australian sheepherder and his wife clash over their nomadic existence and their son’s future. A+

12:30 am — SWING TIME (RKO, 1936): Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers. Astaire and Rogers sing and dance to the music of Jerome Kern in this nearly flawless film. A+

2:30 am — A TALE OF TWO CITIES (MGM, 1935): Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan. Two men are in love with the same woman during the French Revolution in this adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novel. A+

February 26

7:15 am — TEST PILOT (MGM, 1938): Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, & Spencer Tracy. A test pilot’s wife and best friend are trying to keep him sober and safe. C

9:30 am — THAT GIRL FROM PARIS (RKO, 1937): Lily Pons, Jack Oakie. A French opera star in hiding hooks up with a swing band. C

11:15 am — THAT HAMILTON WOMAN (UA, 1941): Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, & Alan Mowbray. Naval hero Lord Nelson (Olivier) defies convention to court a married woman of common birth. A

1:30 pm — THAT MAN FROM RIO (Lopert, 1964): Jean-Paul Belmondo, Francoise Dorleac, & Jean Servais. A pilot gets mixed up in an international search for stolen art. A

3:45 pm — THEM! (WB, 1954): James Whitmore, James Arness, & Edmund Gwenn. Take one part sci-fi, one part red scare and one part noir about ants made into giants by A-bomb testing in the New Mexico desert. A+

8:00 pm — THE THIN MAN (MGM, 1934): William Powell, Myrna Loy. Powell and Loy as filmdom’s most celebrated couple: Nick and Nora Charles. A+

9:45 pm — THE THIRD MAN (London Film Productions, 1949): Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, & Valli. A man's investigation of a friend's death uncovers corruption in post-World War II Vienna. A+

11:45 pm — THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (MGM, 1944): Spencer Tracy, Robert Walker. Tracy stars as Gen. Jimmy Doolittle in this story of his famous raid over Tokyo. B+

2:15 am — A THOUSAND CLOWNS (UA, 1965): Jason Robards, Barbara Harris. An iconoclastic comedy writer has “adopted” his sister’s illegitimate son and must fight to keep him. C-

February 27

6:45 am — THREE COMRADES (MGM, 1938): Robert Taylor, Margaret Sullavan, Robert Young & Franchot Tone. Three friends share their love for a dying woman in between-the-wars Germany. A

8:30 am — THREE LITTLE WORDS (MGM, 1950): Fred Astaire, Red Skelton, & Vera-Ellen. Fred and Red are just fine in this musical biography about songwriters Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby. B+

10:15 am — THE THREE MUSKETEERS (MGM, 1948): Gene Kelly, Lana Turner. Gene Kelly’s presence insures a more athletic and choreographed version of the Dumas classic. B

12:30 pm — THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY (Svensk Filmindustri, 1961): Harriet Anderson, Max Von Sydow. A recently released mental patient becomes obsessed with her younger brother. A+

4:15 pm — THE TIME, THE PLACE AND THE GIRL (WB, 1946): Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson & Janis Paige. Two producers and their girls look for a backer for their big show. C+

6:15 pm — T-MEN (Eagle-Lion, 1948): Dennis O’Keefe, Mary Meade & Alfred Ryder. U.S. agents infiltrate a deadly counterfeit ring. Directed by Anthony Mann. A-

8:00 pm — TO BE OR NOT TO BE (UA, 1942): Jack Benny, Carole Lombard. Ernst Lubitsch’s classic about a troupe of Polish actors who aid the Underground in duping the Nazis. A-

10:00 pm — TO EACH HIS OWN (Paramount, 1946): Olivia de Havilland, Mary Anderson. A single mother gives up her son, then fights to remain a part of his life. A-

12:15 am — TOM JONES (UA, 1963): Albert Finney, Susannah York. Director Tony Richardson’s ribald comedy follows the adventures the adopted son of a British squire. A

2:30 am — TOM, DICK, AND HARRY (RKO, 1941): Ginger Rogers, Burgess Meredith, George Murphy, & Alan Marshall. Rogers accepts three marriage proposals and dreams of life with each man. A-

5:30 am — 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+

February 28

7:30 am — TOPPER RETURNS (U.A., 1941): Joan Blondell, Roland Young, & Carole Landis. Beautiful ghost Blondell enlists Topper’s help to solve her murder. B

9:15 am — TORA! TORA! TORA! (Fox, 1970): Joseph Cotten, So Yamamura. A docudrama reenactment of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, before, during, and afterA

11:45 am — TORCH SONG (MGM, 1953): Joan Crawford, Michael Wilding. Tough-ass Broadway star Joan meets her match in the new pianist, a blind war veteran. C

1:30 pm — TORPEDO RUN (MGM, 1958): Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine. A submarine commander faces a dilemma when he’s forced to blow up a Japanese troop ship containing his family. C+

3:00 pm — TORTILLA FLAT (MGM, 1942): Spencer Tracy, John Garfield, & Hedy Lamarr. Inhabitants of a Southern California town strive for the simple pleasures of life. A-

5:30 pm — TRADER HORN (MGM, 1931): Harry Carey, Edwina Booth. Prehistoric but entertaining hokum about an African trader and a white jungle goddess joining forces to fight a hostile tribe. C

8:00 pm — THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (WB, 1948): Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, & Tim Holt. A classic about three ordinary men and what gold does to ordinary men. A+

10:30 pm — A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN (Fox, 1945): Dorothy McGuire, Joan Blondell & James Dunn. A girl in the slums tries to find her way with the help of her devoted mother and alcoholic father. A

1:00 am — TRISTANA (Epoca Films, 1970): Catherine Deneuve, Fernando Rey. A young girl’s guardian falls in love with her. Directed by Luis Bunuel. B

3:00 am — TULSA (Eagle-Lion, 1949): Susan Hayward, Robert Preston. Cattle owner’s daughter Hayward risks the ranch to drill for oil. B

4:30 am — 12 ANGRY MEN (UA, 1957): Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb. A holdout juror (Fonda) tries to convince the other to vote “not guilty.” A+

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1 comment:

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