December 8–December 14


ON BORROWED TIME (December 10, 6:30 pm): Like he did in numerous movies, Lionel Barrymore plays a grumpy old wheelchair-bound man (Gramps). He's raising his grandson, Pud (played by Bobs Watson; yeah Bobs as in more than one Bob), in this one. Pud's mother and father die in a car accident before the film starts, and his aunt wants to raise him, primarily to get her hands on the money left to the boy by his parents. But Pud and Gramps can't stand her, see right through her, and share an exceptionally close bond. Gramps has an apple tree and the fruit is constantly being stolen so he makes a wish that anybody climbing the tree gets stuck up there until he permits them to come down. Well, Death (masterfully played by Cedric Hardwicke) comes calling for Gramps and is tricked into climbing up the tree. Not only can't he take Gramps, but he can't take anyone else. The aunt thinks Gramps is crazy and sees this as an opportunity to get him committed and have Pud – and his money – for herself. As the movie progresses, Death tricks Pud into climbing the tree with disastrous results. Just thinking about the film's conclusion gives me chills. On Borrowed Time has a wonderful storyline, with many funny scenes, as well as a loving and touching message. Also, the acting is outstanding. Barrymore proved yet again that he never gave a bad performance.

3:10 TO YUMA (December 13, 11:30 am): One of the best Westerns I've seen, 3:10 to Yuma stars Van Heflin as down-on-his-luck farmer Dan Evans in desperate need of money to dig a well. He accepts an assignment to secretly transport notorious gang leader Ben Wade (Glenn Ford, who was made for Westerns), to a nearby town where Wade will be placed aboard a train that will take him to Yuma. This is a tense, psychological drama directed by Delmar Daves that concentrates on the relationship between captor and prisoner. The story departs from most other Westerns of the time in that much of it takes place not in the great wide open, but in a single room where the characters battle it out as Wade stalls for time so his gang can come to his rescue.


EMMA (December 9, 12:30 pm): Marie Dressler was never better than is this story of a housekeeper for would-be investor Frederick Smith (Jean Hersholt), who must suddenly become the caregiver for three children and a new infant after their mother dies in childbirth. She does a spectacular job of raising the children, and 20 years later, when Smith’s inventions have made the family wealthy, she marries her employer – to the disapproval of the children, who, except for the youngest, Ronnie (Richard Cromwell), are a spoiled and ungrateful lot. When Smith dies and leaves everything to Emma, the children, except for the loyal Ronnie, sue in court to invalidate the will. This is a wonderful soaper with Dressler’s down-to-earth housekeeper one of the best remembered characters in film. Leonard Praskins and Zelda Sears penned the screenplay based a story by Frances Marion, who knew what would sell for her friend Dressler and what wouldn’t. In the hands of a less talented actress, Emma would be a crashing bore, but Dressler pulls it off with just the right amount of restraint and panache.

KING KONG (December 10, 8:00 pm): Is there anyone out there who hasn’t seen this film? Along with The Lost World, it’s the granddaddy of the “monster-on-the-loose” films and still holds its grip on us to this day. The search for and capture of a gigantic ape on a previously unknown island is stuff of our childhoods and I know of few people who aren’t in love with this adventure. Animator Willis O’Brien created one of the classic creatures of filmdom which, combined with an intelligent script, continues to dazzle with each viewing. The addition of Fay Wray only ratchets up the mythic heat with a modern take on Beauty and the Beast: She and co-stars Robert Armstrong and Bruce Cabot do an admirable job of acting, but it’s Kong we’ve come to see. And when he finally dies in a hail of bullets atop the Empire State Building, there’s not a dry eye left in the house, for he proves to have more humanity than his captors.

WE AGREE ON ... IKIRU (December 13, 11:30 pm)

ED: A+. Although Akira Kurosawa tends to be best remembered for his forceful and excellent samurai films, his best film may well be this thoughtful, moving and intensely affecting account of an ordinary man’s struggle to find meaning in his life during the days he has left after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Takashi Shimura stars as Kanji Watanabe, a longtime minor bureaucrat in Tokyo’s postwar government who, along with his co-workers, has spent his entire working life without accomplishing anything of importance. Once he learns that his time is limited, he begins to realize that he has gone through his life without any meaningful relationships with family, friends, or even strangers. As he continues to examine his life, he is led to the belief that perhaps he can make a difference by arranging for the construction of a playground in a poorer section of the city. Central to the success of the film is the compelling performance by Shimura as the dying bureaucrat. Shimura injects the character of Watanabe with just the right amount of existential angst to keep Watanabe firmly planted in reality instead of simply going overboard and milking it for every last tear from the audience. Watanabe comes to embrace the hope that by giving something back he can begin to atone for his miserable, wasted existence. Ikiru is best viewed through recording and viewing at an earlier time, for I guarantee that for those who do watch at this late an hour will get little sleep while pondering what they have seen over the course of the last two hours.

DAVID: A+. Ikiru is a masterpiece of cinema – beautiful, poetic, tragic, moving and transforming. At the same time, it's also a damning indictment of government, particularly its bureaucracy and politics, as well as doctors and most importantly, the time we all waste in life wasting time. Sure, we all have jobs to do – and often times, we're not doing anything terribly important but cashing a paycheck and marking time – but Akira Kurosawa's 1952 film shows we can sometimes do something that makes an impact in someone's life, even if it's small. Kurosawa was a legendary director who made numerous classic films, but none are finer or have more of an impact on the viewer than Ikiru, translated from Japanese to mean: to live. Takashi Shimura, a regular Kurosawa player, stars as Kanji Watanabe, a mid-level bureaucrat who focuses his entire life on stamping approval seals on paperwork day in and day out, not missing a single day of work for nearly 30 years. He's not feeling well as the film opens and despite a doctor telling him he has a minor ulcer, Watanabe knows better thanks to a man in the waiting room who informs him he has stomach cancer and that doctors will tell him it's nothing – which is exactly what happens. (The film begins with a narrator telling us Watanabe has stomach cancer.) From there, Watanabe goes from one minor adventure to another, trying to pack a lifetime of emptiness into the short time he has left to live. Shimura is able to perfectly capture the haunting look of impending death with his facial expressions. While Watanabe stops going to work regularly, he is able to make an impact on the lives of those in an impoverished neighborhood with a diseased swamp. At the request of the women in that community, who get the bureaucratic runaround, he is able to turn the swamp into a playground. While those in government are resistant to give him any credit for the playground after his death – which comes with about an hour left in the film – some finally realize that one man can indeed make a difference. In flashbacks at his funeral, we see the lengths Watanabe went to for complete strangers. And that is the beautifully tragic lesson Kurosawa teaches us in Ikriu, a film that stays with the viewer long after it ends.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

December 8

6:45 am –  THE MAD GENIUS (WB, 1931): John Barrymore, Marian Marsh. A deranged ballet teacher will stop at nothing to keep control of his protégé. A

8:15 am – DANCE GIRL, DANCE (RKO, 1940): Maureen O’Hara, Louis Hayward, & Lucille Ball. A ballerina and a burlesque queen compete for a wealthy suitor. C+

10:00 am – LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING (WB, 1949): June Haver, Ray Bolger. Musical biography of Marilyn Miller, who overcame heartache to become a Broadway star. C+

12:00 pm – GIVE A GIRL A BREAK (MGM, 1953): Gower Champion, Marge Champion, Debbie Reynolds, & Bob Fosse. Three young dancers compete for a starring role on Broadway. B-

1:30 pm – BROADWAY MELODY OF 1940 (MGM, 1940): Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell, & George Murphy. A vaudeville team breaks up when both men fall for the same dancer. B-

5:00 pm – LIMELIGHT (UA, 1952): Charles Chaplin, Claire Bloom, & Buster Keaton. A fading music hall comedian's helps a ballet dancer feel confident about life again. A+

8:00 pm – THE GLASS MENAGERIE (CBS, 1966): Shirley Booth, Pat Hingle. Amanda Wingfield dominates her children with faded gentility and exaggerated tales of her Southern belle past. A+

10:15 pm – PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT (MGM, 1962): Tony Franciosa, Jane Fonda. A newlywed couple’s honeymoon is disrupted by their friends’ marital problems. B

2:30 am – 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+

4:45 am – 21 DAYS TOGETHER (London Films, 1940): Vivien Leigh, Leslie Banks. A man accidentally kills his lover’s blackmailing husband. B

December 9

6:00 am – BROADWAY BABIES (WB, 1929): Alice White, Charles Delaney. A chorus girl can't choose between a party animal and her stage manager. B+

7:30 am – PLAYING AROUND (WB, 1930): Alice White, Chester Morris. A young girl falls for a smooth con man. C

8:45 am – THE WIDOW FROM CHICAGO (WB, 1930): Alice White, Edward G. Robinson. A woman infiltrates a criminal gang to avenge her brother’s death. C

10:00 am – THE NAUGHTY FLIRT (WB, 1931): Alice White, Paul Page, & Myrna Loy. Wild young heiress White goes to work as a secretary to win the no-nonsense man she loves. D+

11:00 am – THE ANIMAL KINGDOM (RKO, 1932): Ann Harding, Leslie Howard, & Myrna Loy. An intellectual publisher cannot choose between his society wife and his freethinking former love. A-

12:30 pm – EMMA (MGM, 1932): Marie Dressler, Jean Hersholt, & Myrna Loy. Dressler is a housekeeper who faces small-minded people when she marries her boss. B

2:00 pm – THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (MGM, 1932): Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, & Myrna Loy. The evil Fu must obtain the mask and sword of Genghis Khan in order to rule the world. Myrna Loy is Fu’s daughter. A-

3:15 pm – NEW MORALS FOR OLD (MGM, 1932): Robert Young, Margaret Perry, & Lewis Stone. The generation gap almost destroys a society family. C

4:30 pm – REBOUND (RKO, 1932): Ina Claire, Robert Ames, Myrna Loy. A woman takes back her straying husband when he's jilted. A

6:00 pm – THE WET PARADE (MGM, 1932): Lewis Stone, Walter Huston. An interesting (if overly long) pre-Code diatribe on the pros and cons of Prohibition as seen through its characters. B+

8:00 pm – LOVE ME TONIGHT (Paramount, 1932): Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald. A Parisian tailor falls in love with a princess. A+

9:15 pm – THE PRIZEFIGHTER AND THE LADY (MGM, 1933): Myrna Loy, Walter Huston, & Max Baer. Baer is a boxer who falls for gangster moll Loy. B+

11:00 pm – NIGHT FLIGHT (MGM, 1933): John Barrymore, Helen Hayes, Clark Gable, & Lionel Barrymore. An airline executive throws caution to the wind in order to deliver needed serum to a Brazil hospital. A

12:30 am – THIRTEEN WOMEN (RKO, 1932): Irene Dunne, Ricardo Cortez, & Myrna Loy. Loy is an evil Eurasian seeking revenge on the classmates who forced her to leave school. C+

1:45 am – SCARLET RIVER (RKO, 1933): Tom Keene, Dorothy Wilson. During a location shoot, a movie cowboy is called upon to act like the real thing. A-

2:45 am – PENTHOUSE (MGM, 1933): Warner Baxter, Myrna Loy. Framed for murder by the Mob, a lawyer enlists the help of a call girl to prove his innocence in this good, all-around mystery. B+

4:30 am – THE BARBARIAN (MGM, 1933): Ramon Novarro, Myrna Loy. Arab prince Novarro masquerades as a tour guide to woo tourist Loy (who displays quite a lot of skin in this Pre-Code feature). C-

December 10

6:30 am – ON BORROWED TIME (MGM, 1939): Lionel Barrymore, Cedric Hardwicke, & Bobs Watson.  An elderly man (Barrymore) and his grandson (Watson) trap Death (Hardwicke) in a tree. A

8:30 am – BLITHE SPIRIT (Universal, 1945): Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings. A man and his second wife are haunted by the ghost of his first wife. A

10:30 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-

12:00 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

1:45 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+

5:45 pm – GUNGA DIN (RKO, 1939): Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, & Joan Fontaine. In 19th century India, three British soldiers and a native water bearer must stop a mass revival of the Thuggee cult. B-

8:00 pm – KING KONG (RKO, 1933): Robert Armstrong, Fay Wray & Bruce Cabot. Animator Willis O’Brien was at the top of his game in this, the original – and still the best by far. A-

10:00 pm – CLASH OF THE TITANS (MGM/UA, 1981): Laurence Olivier, Harry Hamlin. Perseus must fight a sea monster, giant scorpions and the Gorgon to win the hand of the woman he loves. D+

12:15 am – ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (Fox/Hammer, 1967): Raquel Welch, John Richardson. Welch is the star of this remake of the 1940 film about a rebellious caveman who leaves his tribe in search of a better life. C+

2:15 am – DEATH WATCH (Quartet Films, 1980): Romy Schneider, Harvey Keitel. A man has camera implanted in his brain & is hired by a television producer to film a documentary of dying woman without her consent. B-

4:15 am – THE SORCERERS (Allied Artists, 1967): Boris Karloff, Catherine Lacey. A great hypnotist develops a technique for controlling minds. C+

December 11

6:00 am – ALIAS BOSTON BLACKIE (Columbia, 1942): Chester Morris, George E. Stone. Lloyd Corrigan. Blackie (Morris) tracks down an escaped convict so he can prove the man’s innocence. B-

8:45 am – SCROOGE (Twickenham, 1935): Seymour Hicks, Donald Calthrop. Good performances enhance this straightforward adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas CarolB+

12:15 am – HOLIDAY AFFAIR (RKO, 1949): Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, & Wendell Corey. A young widow finds herself having to choose between her stodgy boyfriend and a poor clerk she had fired. B

4:00 pm – WINTERTIME (Fox, 1943): Sonja Henie, Jack Oakie. A figure skating champion tries to save a failing resort hotel from bankruptcy. C

5:45 pm – A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (20th Century Fox, 1949): Linda Darnell, Jeanne Crain. Seductress Darnell notifies three best friends that she has run off with one of their husbands. A+

8:00 pm – A PASSAGE TO INDIA (Columbia, 1984): Judy Davis, Alec Guinness. A false rape charge ultimately threatens British-Indian relations. B+

11:00 pm – MY BRILLIANT CAREER (Film Victor, 1979): Judy Davis, Sam Neill. A proud young woman in early 20th century Australia must choose between marriage and a career. A

12:45 am – THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC (Societe Generale Des Films, 1928): Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain. Director Carl Dreyer’s acclaimed account of the trial and execution of Joan of Arc. Silent. B+

2:15 am – ONIBABA (Toho, 1965): Nobuko Otowa, Jitsuko Yoshimura. A mother and daughter survive a war in medieval Japan by killing and robbing lost soldiersA+

4:15 am – UGETSU MONOGATARI (Janus Films, 1953): Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori. Two peasants try to make their fortune during a civil war. A+

December 12

6:00 am – TANNED LEGS (RKO, 1929): June Clyde, Arthur Lake.  Husband and wife chase younger lovers while their daughters pursue their own conquests. Oscar Levant provides the songs. B-

7:15 am – HAVING WONDERFUL TIME (RKO, 1938): Ginger Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., & Lucille Ball. A New York girl finds love at a summer resort. C+

8:30 am – YOU’RE ONLY YOUNG ONCE (MGM, 1938): Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone. Judge Hardy takes the family to Catalina Island for a vacation, where children Andy and Marion fall in love. C+

10:00 am – HONOLULU (MGM, 1939): Eleanor Powell, Robert Young. A movie star trades places with a Hawaiian plantation owner. B-

11:30 pm – GIRL CRAZY (MGM, 1943): Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland. Rooney is a slacker sent by his father to a Western college in the middle of nowhere where he meets Garland. A

3:00 pm – THE CATALINA CAPER (Crown International, 1967): Tommy Kirk, Del Moore. A group of teens tries to foil a group of crooks looking for a stolen scroll.  Featured on MST 3000D

4:30 pm – DON’T MAKE WAVES (MGM, 1967): Tony Curtis, Claudia Cardinale. A swimming pool salesman gets involved with beauty queens and bodybuilders when he falls in love. C+

8:00 pm – MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (MGM, 1944): Judy Garland, Mary Astor. Garland in one of her most famous films about a year in the life of a Midwestern family. Directed by Vincente Minelli. B+

10:00 pm – IN THE GOOD OLD SUMMERTIME (MGM, 1949): Judy Garland, Van Johnson. Feuding co-workers do not know they are secret romantic pen pals in this musical remake of The Shop Around the CornerA-

1:15 am – BACHELOR MOTHER (RKO, 1939): Ginger Rogers, David Niven, & Charles Coburn. A shop-clerk is mistaken for the mother of a foundling in this lively comedy written by Norman Krasna. A

2:45 am – BUNDLE OF JOY (RKO, 1956): Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds. Shopgirl Debbie is mistaken for the mother of an abandoned baby. C-

December 13

7:15 am – H.M. PULHAM, ESQ (MGM, 1941): Hedy Lamarr, Robert Young. Spirited career girl Lamarr coaxes stuffy Bostonian Young out of his shell in this adaptation of John P. Marquand’s story. A+

9:30 am – POSSESSED (WB, 1947): Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, & Raymond Massey. A married woman’s passion for a former lover drives her mad. B+

11:30 am – 3:10 TO YUMA (Columbia, 1957): Van Heflin, Glenn Ford. A classic western about a financially strapped rancher who accepts a job to see a convicted outlaw is placed on a train for trial. A

2:45 pm – THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (Paramount, 1946): Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin. Years after a murder drove them apart, an heiress tries to win back her lost love. A

4:45 pm – THE PROWLER (U.A., 1951): Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes. Sector cop Heflin becomes obsessed with the married Keyes and plots to do in her husband. B-

8:00 pm – UMBERTO D (Janus Films, 1952): Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio. Vittorio DeSica directed this heartbreaking film about a retiree coping with the realities of old age. A+

9:45 pm – WILD STRAWBERRIES (Svensk Filmindustri, 1957): Victor Sjostrom, Bibi Andersson. After living a life marked by coldness, an aging professor must confront the emptiness of his existence. A++

11:30 pm – IKIRU (Toho, 1952): Takashi Shimura, Nobuo Kaneko. Kurosawa directed this story of a terminally ill bureaucrat who decides to make a difference in his office mates’ lives. A+

2:00 am – THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA (Shochiku Co., 1958): Kinuyo Tanaka, Teiji Takahashi. An ancient custom in a poor village has a son leading his aging mother up a mountain top to leave her there abandoned. A

4:00 am – ARMY (RIKUGUN) (Shochiku Ofuna, 1944): Chishu Ryu, Ken Mitsuda. Keisuke Kinoshita directed this multi-generational epic about the military legacy of a Japanese family. A+

December 14

6:00 am – KING OF HOCKEY (WB, 1936): Dick Purcell, Anne Nagel, & Marie Wilson. A hockey star goes blind and has to fight for a new life. C+

7:00 am – ALCATRAZ ISLAND (WB, 1937): John Litel, Ann Sheridan. A man railroaded into a long term in Alcatraz is framed for the murder of a con that once tried to kidnap his daughter. D

8:15 am – MEN IN EXILE (WB, 1937): Dick Purcell, June Travis. Framed for a robbery he didn't commit, a man flees to a Caribbean island and gets involved with a woman, gunrunners and murder. C

9:15 am – MISSING WITNESSES (WB, 1937): John Litel, Dick Purcell, & Jean Dale. Government investigators take on a powerful protection racket. C-

10:30 am – ACCIDENTS WILL HAPPEN (WB, 1938): Ronald Reagan, Gloria Blondell, & Dick Purcell. An insurance man tangles with a fraud ring. C+

11:45 am – BROADWAY MUSKETEERS (WB, 1938): Margaret Lindsay, Ann Sheridan, & Marie Wilson. Three childhood friends get mixed up with gangsters. C-

1:00 pm – MYSTERY HOUSE (WB, 1937): Dick Purcell, Ann Sheridan. Purcell stars as a detective trying to solve a murder in a houseful of suspects. C

2:00 pm – OVER THE WALL (WB, 1938): Dick Foran, June Travis, & John Litel. A prison chaplain tries to help a man framed for murder to prove his innocence. C

3:15 pm – BLACKWELL’S ISLAND (WB, 1939:  John Garfield, Stanley Fields. A reporter gets himself sentenced to notorious Blackwell’s Island prison in order to expose a crime boss. B-

4:30 pm – FLIGHT COMMAND (MGM, 1940): Robert Taylor, Ruth Hussey, & Walter Pidgeon. A cocky cadet tries to prove his worth during flight training. C-

6:30 pm – KING OF THE ZOMBIES (Monogram, 1941): Dick Purcell, Joan Woodbury, & Mantan Moreland. A mad scientist raises the dead to fight for Hitler in World War II. C

8:00 pm – SUDDEN FEAR (RKO, 1952): Joan Crawford, Jack Palance. An ambitious actor insinuates himself into the life of a wealthy middle-aged woman, then plots with his mistress to murder her. A-

10:00 pm – DIAL M FOR MURDER (WB, 1954): Ray Milland, Grace Kelly. Hitchcock classic about a cheating husband attempting to frame his wife for the murder of the man he hired to kill her. A

12:00 am – THE TWO MRS. CARROLLS (WB, 1947): Humphrey Bogart, Barbara Stanwyck. Bogie is a nutzoid artist who kills his first wife to marry Babs. It’s one of their worst movies. D+

2:00 am – EXPERIMENT PERILOUS (RKO, 1944): Hedy Lamarr, George Brent, & Paul Lukas. Small town doctor Brent tries to help a woman (Lamarr) with a deranged husband (Lukas). C

4:00 am – THE STRANGER (RKO, 1946): Orson Welles, Edward G. Robinson, & Loretta Young. A small town schoolteacher suspects her new husband may be a fugitive Nazi. A

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1 comment:

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