October 1–October 7


THE CIRCUS (October 3, 6:00 am): Along with The Gold Rush, this is my favorite Charlie Chaplin film in which he portrays his signature "Tramp" character. This 1928 silent movie is funny, sweet, entertaining, and did I mention funny? The Tramp stumbles into a circus and greatly entertains the crowd with his unintentionally amusing antics. He has a formal tryout for the circus and bombs because he's trying to be funny. But when the circus' set-up crew quits when they're not paid, the Tramp is hired to take their place. Through a series of mishaps, he becomes the star of the circus. There's a beautiful girl with whom the Tramp falls in love. She, of course, is in love with someone else. One of the best parts of the film has the Tramp on the high-wire. The movie is a lot of fun and Chaplin's ability to entertain an audience without uttering a word is on full display here. There was a lot of drama going on behind the scenes of this film, including a studio fire, an IRS investigation into Chaplin and his divorce, but you'd never know it.

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (October 7, 4:45 pm): I'm a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock and this among my favorites. The premise is simple, but the plot, acting and directing of the movie makes it a classic. Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker) wants his father dead. While on a train, he meets a stranger - tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) with a similar dilemma. Haines wants to get rid of his wife so he can marry another woman. Anthony comes up with the idea that these two "strangers on a train" will do each other's dirty work and no one will suspect them. Haines brushes it aside, but when the psychotic Anthony kills Haines' wife, he expects his "co-conspirator" to respond in (not so) kind. The interaction between Walker and Granger, two highly underrated actors, in this film is outstanding. Hitch did a fantastic job - which he so often did - building tension and drama. 


PEEPING TOM (October 4, 3:00 pm): Michael Powell almost lost his career in the uproar that followed the release of this controversial film about a serial photographer who captures his victims with his camera at their moment of death. He also documents the police investigation that follows each killing, and finally, his own suicide. We later learn that the killer’s father (played by Powell) was a psychologist who used his own son as a guinea pig in experiments exploring the nature of fear. The original print was heavily edited upon its 1960 release, but later restored by none other than Martin Scorsese. Don’t miss it.

A CANTERBURY TALE (October 5, 6:00 am): A most unusual and totally charming film about an English Tommy, a Land Girl, and an American soldier who find themselves in a small Kent town on the road to Canterbury when the Land Girl becomes the latest victim of the “Glue Man,” a mysterious stranger who pours glue in the hair of women he catches in the company of GIs. The three stay to investigate the mystery, and in the process explore the local countryside, especially its history and tales of pilgrims. The path eventually leads to Canterbury Cathedral, where each receives an unexpected “blessing:” the granting of their most fervent wish. It’s a deeply beautiful film that teaches its main characters not to lose faith or hope while it also celebrates English country life and traditions. Written and directed by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the film has only the most casual relationship to the famous Chaucer work, yet, there is a strong mystical quality to this movie that transcends the Christian and English pagan settings and traditions. It is a tale of humans brought together by a shared faith, love and optimism that everything will come out all right if we only give it a chance to work. This is a film one can see time and again and still remains fresh.

WE DISAGREE ON . . . THE AFRICAN QUEEN (October 3, 8:00 pm)

ED: A+. The African Queen is one of the true classics of Hollywood, and in the manner of true classics, it was a film that almost wasn’t made. The property had passed through two studios (RKO and Warner Bros.), each of which eventually decided against filming it. John Huston and Sam Spiegel bought it from Warner’s for $50,000 and managed to cast the leads perfectly in the persons of Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Hepburn was especially perfect, as all she was really required to do in the film was to play herself, which she did magnificently. As for Bogart, it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the role, which is probably the main reason a big-budget remake has never been attempted. It is what I would describe as a “personal epic,” an epic on a small scale. There is no need for a large cast of extras or elaborate special effects, as the story itself is so personal. Also, with a script such as Huston had to work with on the film, there was no need for anything extra, as the script described and fleshed out every scene perfectly. Join all this with the excellent color photography by cinematographer Jack Cardiff, and the result is a film that can truly be counted as among “The Essentials.” But don’t take my word for it. Critics from Roger Ebert to Pauline Kael to Georges Sadoul have been lavish in their praise for the film. Ditto for such filmmakers as Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford, and Francois Truffaut. In 1994, it was selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Film Registry. And the American Film Institute placed it at No. 17 on its “100 Greatest Movies” list, No. 14 on it's “100 Greatest Love Stories” list, and No. 48 on it’s “Most Inspiring Movies” list.

DAVID: C-. This 1951 movie is an overrated piece of garbage starring film's most overrated actress, Katharine Hepburn. If there ever was an actress who could suck the life out of a film, it was Hepburn. Look at her body of work, particularly the largely awful series of movies she did with Spencer Tracy and Cary Grant. In The African Queen she drags down Humphrey Bogart, another all-time great actor. I really want to like this film. Bogie is one of my favorites and John Huston was a great director. The plot is interesting enough: a prim English missionary (Hep) and a gruff, cynical Canadian junk-boat captain (Bogie) work together to blow up Germans (who else?) at the start of World War I and fall in love. But there are a number of problems with the film with Hepburn at the root of most of them. First, as Ed mentioned above, Hepburn plays herself. Hep made a career out of over-the-top, scenery-chewing acting. Find me a single film in which she doesn't overact. If such a movie exists it would only be because she had a forceful director telling her to stop or be fired. Yes, she was in some fine films, but the reason they were good had little to do with her. Back to my point about the need for a forceful director - it's hard to believe John Huston let her take control of his film. That's on him and not her. As for Bogart, he too largely takes a back seat to Hepburn. His character is cliche and if you can't tell where the plot is heading 20 minutes into the film, you're not paying attention (though, honestly, it's such a dull film that I wouldn't blame anyone for not paying attention). Bogart won his lone Oscar for this film in yet another example of the Academy giving an actor an Oscar for a lesser role when it failed to honor that person for some of the great performances he or she delivered in previous years. The attempts at comedy are awkward. The attempts at romance are embarrassing. I'm going to try to get into Ed's head a moment about all the name-dropping in his review of some of my favorite film legends, particularly Francois Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock and Roger Ebert. Just because they liked this movie and it stars Bogart and is directed by Huston doesn't make The African Queen a great or even a good movie. The praise only shows that no one is perfect. Also, Ed isn't a Hepburn fan though he doesn't loathe her as much as I do. The American Film Institute ranking mean nothing, particularly when it lists Hepburn as the No. 1 female "American screen legend." It's the same organization that has James Dean as the No. 18 male American screen legend when he made a grand total of three mediocre films in his career.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

October 1

7:15 am – THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG (MGM, 1927): Norma Shearer, Ramon Navarro. A young prince attending college falls for a barmaid way below his social status. Silent. B+

9:15 am – THE MERRY WIDOW (MGM, 1934): Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald. A prince of a small kingdom pursues a wealthy widow to keep her money in the country. A-

8:00 pm – THE ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE (MGM, 1947): Van Johnson, Thomas Mitchell & Janet Leigh. A farmer's daughter falls in love with a man who fought against her family in the Civil War. A-

10:00 pm – IF WINTER COMES (MGM, 1948): Walter Pidgeon, Deborah Kerr & Janet Leigh. A scandal breaks out when a well-meaning, innocent man takes in a pregnant girl. B+

12:00 am – LITTLE WOMEN (MGM, 1949): Peter Lawford, June Allyson. Allyson is fine in MGM’s harmless remake of the 1933 Katherine Hepburn version.C

October 2

10:30 am – ROOM SERVICE (RKO, 1938): The Marx Brothers, Donald McBride.  A penniless theatrical producer must outwit the hotel efficiency expert trying to evict him while securing a backer for his new play. C

12:00 pm – GO WEST (MGM, 1940): The Marx Brothers, Diana Lewis. Tepid Marx Brothers, as they travel west and help the hero fight a crooked promoter.C

1:30 pm – THE BIG STORE (MGM, 1941): The Marx Brothers, Margaret Dumont. A seedy detective and his zany pals take over a failing department store.D+

3:00 pm – DOUBLE DYNAMITE (RKO, 1951): Jane Russell, Groucho Marx & Frank Sinatra. A bank teller reaps the rewards of saving a gangster's life, but can't reveal where he got the money. C

4:30 pm – A GIRL IN EVERY PORT (RKO, 1952): Groucho Marx, Marie Wilson & William Bendix. Two sailors invest in a racehorse. C

8:00 pm – TOPPER (Hal Roach/MGM, 1937): Constance Bennett, Cary Grant & Roland Young. The classic story about a fun-loving couple who come back as ghosts to shake up their stuffy friend. A

10:00 pm – THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (Universal, 1946): Abbott & Costello, Marjorie Reynolds. Costello and Reynolds are ghosts from the Revolutionary War who must haunt a house until cleared of treason. B+

11:30 pm – THE CANTERVILLE GHOST (MGM, 1944): Charles Laughton, Robert Young. Laughton stars as a cursed ghost whose modern-day relative has to perform a brave act to break the curse. B-

1:15 am – A PLACE OF ONE’S OWN (Gainsborough, 1945): James Mason, Margaret Lockwood. A couple purchases a haunted house only to have the woman possessed by the spirit of the former owner. B

3:00 am – THE COCKEYED MIRACLE (MGM, 1946): Frank Morgan, Keenan Wynn & Cecil Kellaway. Father and son ghosts sort out their family's problems. C

4:30 am – BEYOND TOMORROW (RKO, 1940): Harry Carey, C. Aubrey Smith. A ghost tries to smooth the way for two young lovers he knew during his lifetime. C+

October 3

6:00 am – THE CIRCUS (UA, 1928):  Charles Chaplin, Merna Kennedy. The Tramp finds work and the girl of his dreams at a circus. Silent. B

8:30 am – THE CIRCUS CLOWN (WB, 1934): Joe E. Brown, Patricia Ellis. A young man defies his father’s wishes and joins the circus. C

9:45 pm – FIXER DUGAN (RKO, 1939): Lee Tracy, Virginia Weidler & Peggy Shannon. Con man Tracy adopts an aerialist’s daughter. C

11:00 am – AT THE CIRCUS (MGM, 1937): The Marx Brothers, Margaret Dumont & Kenny Baker. Groucho, Chico and Harpo must help a circus owner (Baker) save his show. B-

12:30 pm – 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-

2:00 pm – THOUSANDS CHEER (MGM, 1944): Gene Kelly, Kathryn Grayson. Egotistical acrobat Kelly joins the Army and falls in love with his commander’s daughter. B-

6:15 pm – THE 7 FACES OF DR. LAO (MGM, 1964): Tony Randall, Barbara Eden. A Chinese showman uses his magical powers to save a Western town from itself. B+

8:00 pm – THE AFRICAN QUEEN (UA, 1951): Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn. A grizzled skipper and a spirited missionary take on the Germans in Africa during World War I. Ratings: See above.

10:00 pm – SAHARA (Columbia, 1943): Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Bennett, J. Carroll Naish. Bogart and his tank crew pick up eight soldiers plus an Italian prisoner trying to find their way to their lines. B

12:00 pm – BEAT THE DEVIL (U.A., 1954): Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Gina Lollobrigida, & Jennifer Jones. A group of con artists scheme to acquire uranium-rich land in East Africa. B

2:00 am – CASABLANCA (WB, 1943): Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henried, Claude Rains, & Conrad Veidt. Bogart is a disillusioned American; Bergman his lost love. Henried leads the Resistance, Rains is the head of Police, and Veidt is the nasty Gestapo officer. A+

4:00 am – THE WIND AND THE LION (U.A., 1975): Sean Connery, Candice Bergen. An Arab chieftain causes an international incident when he kidnaps an American widow Bergen and her children. C

October 4

6:00 am – DARK PASSAGE (WB, 1947): Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall. A man falsely accused of murdering his wife escapes to find the real killer. A-

8:00 am – THE COBWEB (MGM, 1955): Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, & Gloria Grahame. This is an unintentionally funny film about an asylum where the staff is almost as loony as the inmates. D+

10:30 am – DR. KILDARE’S CRISIS (MGM, 1940): Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore. Dr. Kildare’s marriage to Mary Lamont could be called off when her brother is diagnosed with epilepsy. C

3:00 pm – PEEPING TOM (Astor, 1960): Karl Boehm, Moira Shearer. Michael Powell directed this horrific tale of a cinematographer, raised by a sadist, who kills young women while filming their fear. A+

5:00 pm – LOLITA (MGM, 1962): Peter Sellers, James Mason, & Sue Lyon. Stanley Kubrick’s classic about middle-aged man Mason in love with teenager Lyon. B+

8:00 pm – TWENTIETH CENTURY (Columbia, 1967): Carole Lombard, John Barrymore. Howard Hawks directed this comedy about a tempestuous theatrical director who must win back the star he drove away. A

10:00 pm – THE LADY VANISHES (Gainsborough, 1938): Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave. A young woman creates an international incident looking for an elderly friend who has disappeared. A-

2:00 am – FIVE MINUTES TO LIVE (Sutton, 1961): Johnny Cash, Vic Tayback. Cash poses as a salesman to trap a housewife while his partner (Vic Tayback) extorts $70,000 from her banker husband. F

3:30 am – THE FASTEST GUITAR ALIVE (MGM, 1967): Roy Orbison, Sammy Jackson. A Confederate spy gives guitar lessons to the governor’s daughter and robs a mint before finding the war is over. D

October 5

6:00 am – A CANTERBURY TALE (Archer Films, 1944): Dennis Price, Eric Portman. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger directed this offbeat tale of a local woman, a G.I. and a Tommy in search of a suspect who pours glue in women’s hair. A++

8:15 am – GREEN FOR DANGER (Independent Producers, 1946): Leo Genn, Trevor Howard, & Alastair Sim.  A Scotland Yard inspector looks into odd hospital deaths during the London Blitz. A++

10:00 am – SCARFACE, SHAME OF A NATION (UA, 1931): Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, & Boris Karloff. The original Howard Hawks directed saga of ambitious gangster Tony Camonte (Muni). Karloff is great as his rival. A

12:00 pm – COOL HAND LUKE (WB, 1967): Paul Newman, Strother Martin. Newman is a rebellious member of a prison road gang. Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. A-

4:00 pm – THE JUNGLE BOOK (U.A., 1942): Sabu, Joseph Calleia. A boy raised by wolves tries to adapt to civilized life. Based on the stories of Rudyard Kipling. A-

8:00 pm – THE RED SHOES (J. Arthur Rank, 1948): Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring. Michael Powell’s beautiful drama of a ballerina who must choose between career and the man she loves. A+

10:30 pm – CAMERAMAN: THE LIFE AND WORK OF JACK CARDIFF (Strand Releasing, 2010): Martin Scorsese narrates this look at the noted cinematographer and director. A+

2:00 am – A RIVER CALLED TITASH (Janus, 1971): Rosy Samad, Fakrul Hasan Bairagi. Inhabitants of a Bangladeshi fishing village endure life in one of the world's most poverty-stricken areas. A-

October 6

6:00 am – SWING HIGH, SWING LOW (Paramount, 1937): Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray. A bandleader finds he could lose everything when success goes to his head. C

7:30 am – FOOLS FOR SCANDAL (WB, 1938): Carole Lombard, Ralph Bellamy. A Hollywood star falls in love with a broken-down aristocrat. B-

9:00 am – THE GAY BRIDE (MGM, 1934): Carole Lombard, Chester Morris & ZaSu Pitts. A gold digger tries to get ahead by marrying a succession of ill-fated racketeers. C+

10:30 am – MADE FOR EACH OTHER (U.A., 1939): Carole Lombard, James Stewart, & Charles Coburn. A couple struggle to find happiness after a whirlwind courtship. B

12:30 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. It was Lombard’s final movie before her death. A++

4:30 pm – NOTHING SACRED (U.A., 1937): Frederic March, Carole Lombard. When a small-town girl is diagnosed with a rare, deadly disease, a newspaperman turns her into a national heroine. A

6:00 pm – IN NAME ONLY (RKO, 1939): Carole Lombard, Cary Grant & Kay Francis. A better than average soaper about a man whose wife won’t divorce him so he can marry his widowed sweetheart. A-

8:00 pm – THE CARTOONS OF WINSOR MCKAY (TCM, 2014): Documentary on the work of the pioneering cartoonist, famous for creating Gertie the Dinosaur. A

9:45 pm – 100th ANNIVERSARY OF BRAY STUDIOS (TCM, 2014): Documentary about the studio that was the dominant force n animation before World War I. A

11:00 pm – ANIMATION FROM VAN BEUREN STUDIOS (TCM, 2014): A look at the animation studio that produced carton from 1928-36. A

1:30 am – GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (Paramount, 1939): This full-length Fleischer Brothers film is an animated take on Swift’s classic tale. A

3:00 am – MAGIC BOY (Toei/MGM, 1961): Akira Daikubaba directed this animated adventure of a young man who studies magic to battle an evil witch. B+

October 7

6:15 am – MATA HARI (MGM, 1932): Greta Garbo, Ramon Novarro, & Lionel Barrymore. Garbo stars as the famous World War I spy. A-

7:45 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+

9:30 am – THE MALTESE FALCON (WB, 1941): Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, & Sydney Greenstreet. The best version of the classic about a private detective who takes on a case that involves him in a quest for a priceless statue. A++

11:15 pm – THE OUTLAW (Howard Hughes Productions, 1943): Thomas Mitchell, Jane Russell. Allegedly the story of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, it’s badly directed, badly acted, and badly written. Total Entertainment! F

1:15 pm – THE UNFAITHFUL (WB, 1947): Ann Sheridan, Lew Ayres, & Zachary Scott. While her husband is away, a woman gets mixed up in murder. It’s a remake of The LetterC+

3:15 pm – WHERE DANGER LIVES (RKO, 1950): Robert Mitchum, Claude Rains, & Faith Domergue.  A young doctor falls in love with a disturbed woman and becomes involved in her murder plot. C-

4:45 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+

6:30 pm – A KISS BEFORE DYING (20th Cent. Fox, 1956): Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, & Joanne Woodward. A psychopathic charmer (Wagner) kills his girlfriend and then begins wooing her sister. B+

8:00 pm – IN THE COOL OF THE DAY (MGM, 1963): Jane Fonda, Peter Finch, Angela Lansbury, & Arthur Hill. A man's efforts to save his friend's marriage lead to infidelity. C+

9:45 pm – NETWORK (MGM, 1976): Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway. A Chayefsky screenplay about the changing world of television. Finch as Howard Beale is unforgettable. B+

12:00 am – 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

3:15 am – SUNDAY, BLOODY SUNDAY (UA, 1971): Peter Finch, Glenda Jackson. A doctor and a female executive try to cope with their love for an aloof bisexual artist. C+

5:15 am – THE TRIALS OF OSCAR WILDE (UA, 1960): Peter Finch, Nigel Patrick. An excellent account of the famous 19th century writer and his libel suit against the Marquis of Queensbury. 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.