January 15–January 22


SHAFT (January 15, 2:00 am): "Who's the cat who won't cop out when there's danger all about? Shaft. Right on." It's not just the great theme song and a super funky soundtrack, this is the absolute best blaxploitation film ever made. It was so popular that it's considered the film that saved the then-struggling MGM studio from going out of business in 1971. Richard Roundtree is Shaft, John Shaft, a private dick who is asked by the Mafia to rescue the daughter of the crime boss. Shaft is as cool as they come, bedding a number of women, and always a step or two ahead of the police, the mob and the gang that kidnapped the girl. It's an incredibly enjoyable movie, filled with action and humor. 

THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (January 16, 12:45 am): This is Orson Welles' follow to Citizen Kane starring Joseph Cotten (one of cinema's most underrated actors in just his second film) as Eugene Morgan, a charming and successful automobile manufacturer around the turn of the 20th century. Twenty years after he returns to town, Eugene falls in love again – though he's been in love with her for most of his life – with Isabel Amberson Minafer (Dolores Costello), a former flame who is later widowed. But Isabel's son, George (Tim Holt), steeped in the Amberson tradition and name, interferes in the love affair between his mother and Eugene, who want to marry. The film is beautifully shot with incredible acting and a compelling storyline about those who go to unbelievable lengths to keep their pride at the expense of their own personal happiness and of their families.


THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE (January 18, 10:00 pm): The films of Max Ophuls are noted for their subtlety, and this film is a prime example. Taking a simple premise, that of a French woman whose series of white lies does her in, Ophuls raises it to the level of high tragedy. although it opened in the U.S. to mild praise, the film is viewed today as one of the greatest gems of movie history, and perhaps the acme of Ophuls’ career. Of course, a good cast helps, and Ophuls has a terrific one with Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux and Vittorio De Sica as his leads. Ophuls is in his element here, painstakingly designing mies-en-scenes that frame and define his characters, and combining that with close-ups that allow us some psychological insight into the characters. The plot is beautifully staged, opening and closing on the consideration of the eponymous piece of jewelry that passes from owner to owner until returning to Darrieux. This is a film of charm and beauty with a marvelous subtext of the pain that goes hand in hand with vanity and which no amount of lies can cover or explain.

DAY FOR NIGHT (Jan. 22, 12:45 am): This is one of Truffaut’s wittiest and most subtle films – a film about the making of a film. While on the set of Je vous presente Pamela (Introducing Pamela), the story of an English wife running off with her French father-in-law, we also get to know the cast and crew shooting the film, each with his or her own set of problems. Hence the title: a technical cinematographic term for simulating a night scene while shooting during the day. Special filters and optical processors are employed to create the illusion. While Nathalie Baye and Jean-Pierre Leaud are wonderful in their roles, Valentia Cortese steals the picture as the fading actress Severine. For those new to Truffaut, this is the perfect introduction and one not to miss.

WE DISAGREE ON ... WINGS OF DESIRE (January 22, 10:15 pm)

ED: B. There have been quite a few films that featured angels in their plots, but nothing like Wim Wenders features angels. Only Wenders can envision them as gloomy men in overcoats moving stealthily through Berlin looking to comfort those unfortunates in need of their assistance. Being an angel is a tough lot in Wenders’ existential fantasy. Being powerless is part and parcel of their job, since they cannot change fate but can only bear witness to what it does to an individual. It’s this feeling of powerlessness that motivates an angel named Damiel (Bruno Ganz) to give up his celestial otherworldliness for the sensation of corporeal existence. The film gets off to a great start, as we share the details and responsibilities of Damiel and a fellow angel named Cassiel (Otto Sander). We see them riding the subway, listening in on each commuter's thought process, or in traffic listening to a woman talk to the dog in her car. They offer comfort to a pregnant woman on her way to the hospital, or solace to a wife who just lost her husband. They do all this while remaining invisible (except to children) to those they help. And we witness the growing feeling of longing in Damiel for the joy that a corporeal existence can bring. He becomes inspired by watching an American actor (Peter Falk) as he prepares for a role, or a beautiful trapeze artist (Solveig Dommartin), with whom he becomes infatuated. So far, so good. But while the basic idea of the film is enchanting, it gets away from Wenders and ends up quite overripe. Take the case of Falk, in town to star in a film about World War II. We hear him worrying about whether he understands the role, and while sketching another actor on the set he is given to some of the ripest dialogue this side of Coleman Francis in The Beast of Yucca Flats (“Flag on the moon. Where did it come from?”). While looking at an actor in costume, he is led to muse, "Yellow star means death. Why did they pick yellow? Sunflowers. Van Gogh killed himself.” And it gets worse with Dommartin’s musings. Such pithy pronouncements as ‘"Where did time begin, and where does space begin?” make us feel more that we’ve wandered into a lecture on existential philosophy than watching a trapeze artist at work. In the end, both she and Falk lead us to a musing of our own along the lines of “Who cares, anyway?” Her remarks not only serve to trivialize the film, they go on and on, and in the end their final effect is to break up the monotony of endlessly lingering camera shots on her high-wire acrobatics. For a film that grabs us at the beginning with its novelty, Wings of Desire breaks down in the second half, weighted down by excessive dialogue and camera movements and its unyieldingly heavy sense of whimsy. It ultimately wears us down and gives us only a sense of relief that the film, artsy-fartsy to the extreme, has ended. Day for Night is coming on immediately after this. Watch that instead. 

DAVID: A. If you love film, you will love Wings of Desire, an ingenious and moving picture from 1987. The visually-stunning film focuses on Damiel (Bruno Ganz), an angel in Berlin around the end of the Cold War. He stands on top of tall buildings, in a crowd or nearly anywhere, watching people and listening to their thoughts, many of them quite depressing. Damiel and Cassiel (Otto Sander), an another angel featured in the film, can't really do anything to directly comfort people except touch someone's shoulder to give a little hope to those with troubled existences. Its beauty is in its subtlety. The acting is brilliant, particularly Ganz and Peter Falk, who plays himself. Falk is in Berlin to film a movie, and it turns out, he was an angel who chose to give up his immortality to become a person. Falk's ability to play himself with an unexpected twist is one of the most compelling aspects of this most compelling film. Damiel is growing tired of being an angel and yearns to be a human. He tells Cassiel: "It would be rather nice, coming home after a long day to feed the cat, like Philip Marlowe; to have a fever, and blackened fingers from the newspaper; at last to guess, instead of always knowing.” Damiel falls in love with Marion (Solveig Dommartin), a beautiful trapeze artist who fears she will fall. For Damiel, it's love at first sight. He longs for the simple things humans experience, but often don't notice, such as touching someone or having a conversation. Damiel risks his immortality to have an opportunity at love. Is the film's tempo slow? Perhaps, but that allows the viewer to better understand Damiel's existence as an angel and the quandary he faces in choosing mortality and love. Rather than a deep meaning, the film provides a simple lesson: It is the small things in life that make it worth living.

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

January 15

6:00 am – HALLELUJAH (MGM, 1929): Daniel L. Haynes, Nina Mae McKinney. A laborer turns preacher after accidentally killing a man in this attempt to portray African-Americans in a decent light. A-

7:45 am – THE GREEN PASTURES (WB, 1936): Rex Ingram, Oscar Polk & Eddie Anderson. God tests the human race in this reenactment of Bible stories set in the world of black American folklore. A

9:30 am – THE DUKE IS TOPS (Million Dollar Productions, 1938): Ralph Cooper, Lena Horne. A producer must put aside his own success in order to boost the career of a talented singer. B-

10:45 am – CABIN IN THE SKY (MGM, 1943): Eddie Anderson, Ethel Waters, & Lena Horne. A compulsive gambler promises he’ll reform but is mortally wounded while playing dice. B+

12:30 pm – THE JACKIE ROBINSON STORY (Eagle-Lion, 1950): Jackie Robinson, Ruby Dee. Robinson plays himself in this story of how he became the first man to break baseball’s color barrier. C+

2:00 pm – SERGEANT RUTLEDGE (WB, 1960): Jeffrey Hunter, Constance Towers & Woody Strode. A 19th-century lawyer tries to clear a black man of rape and murder charges. A

6:00 pm – A PATCH OF BLUE (MGM, 1965): Sidney Poitier, Shelley Winters & Elizabeth Hartman. A blind white girl falls in love with a black man. A

8:00 pm – A WARM DECEMBER (Nat. Gen., 1972): Sidney Poitier, Yvette Curtis & George Baker. A doctor visiting London falls for a mysterious woman. B

10:00 pm – DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (Kino Int’l, 1991): Adisa Anderson, Barbara O. Three generations of Gullah women reunite in 1902 before the family emigrates to the North. C+

12:00 am – TROUBLE MAN (Fox, 1092): Robert Hooks, Paul Winfield & Ralph Waite. Following the trail of a private eye in a 3-piece suit who pilots a mean Lincoln Continental. C

2:00 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

4:00 am – LOSING GROUND (Milestone Films, 1982): Billie Allen, Gary Bolling. An African-American philosophy professor and her insensitive artist husband try to resolve their martial crisis. B-

January 16

6:00 am – GIRLS ON PROBATION (WB, 1938): Jane Bryan, Ronald Reagan. A young ex-con is framed in a robbery. The girl who set her up now shows up with a blackmail scheme. C-

7:15 am – DR. EHRLICH’S MAGIC BULLET (WB, 1940)Edward G. Robinson, Ruth Gordon. Eddie G. as the scientist who searches for a cure for syphilis. “Now looky here, you germs! Myah!” A

9:15 am – THAT UNCERTAIN FEELING (UA, 1941): Merle Oberon, Melvyn Douglas. Lubitsch’s sophisticated comedy about a wife who begins to have doubts about her husband after seeing a psychoanalyst.B+

12:15 pm – COMRADE X (MGM, 1940): Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr. Gable is a reporter who warms up icy Russian streetcar conductor Lamarr. B

2:00 pm – NINOTCHKA (MGM, 1939): Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas. A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest. A+

4:00 pm – THE IRON PETTICOAT (MGM, 1956): Bob Hope, Katherine Hepburn. Defecting Soviet officer Hepburn falls for an American captain (Hope) in London. C

8:00 pm – THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (Columbia, 1993): Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer. 19th century lawyer Day-Lewis risks his standing in society when he falls for his fiancée’s married cousin. A-

10:30 pm – THE HEIRESS (Paramount, 1949): Olivia deHavilland, Montgomery Clift. A young naive woman falls for a handsome young man whom her father suspects is a fortune hunter. A+

12:45 am – THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (RKO, 1942): Joseph Cotten, Tim Holt, & Dolores Costello. A spoiled heir to a dying fortune comes between his widowed mother and the man she has always loved. A+

4:45 am – OUR DAILY BREAD (UA, 1934): Karen Morley, Tom Keene. King Vidor’s utopian feature about a farmer that inherits a small farm and turns it into a commune. Very daring for the times. B+

January 17

8:30 am – KNUTE ROCKNE – ALL-AMERICAN (WB, 1940): Pat O’Brien, Gale Page, & Ronald Reagan. O’Brien shines as the legendary Notre Dame football coach. Reagan became famous playing George Gipp. A-

10:15 am – DEATH ON THE DIAMOND (MGM, 1934): Robert Young, Nat Pendleton. Rookie Young must find out who is killing off the St. Louis Cardinals to keep them from winning the pennant. B

11:30 am – TROUBLE ALONG THE WAY (WB, 1953): John Wayne, Donna Reed. Wayne stars as a football coach who uses underhanded methods to turn his team into a winner. C+

1:30 pm – ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (MGM, 1951): Paul Douglas, Janet Leigh. The manager of the Pirates promises an angel that he’ll reform if his team can get some heavenly assistance. A-

3:15 pm – ELEVEN MEN AND A GIRL (WB, 1930): Joe E. Brown, Joan Bennett. A college football player persuades a beautiful young woman to entice the entire team over to her college. C

8:00 pm – CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (Alpine Productions, 1967): Orson Welles, Jeanne Moreau. Welles directed and starred in this film about Shakespeare's Sir John Falstaff, the roistering companion to young Prince HalA

10:15 pm – MIDNIGHT LACE (Universal, 1960): Doris Day, Rex Harrison & Myrna Loy. A young woman can't get anyone to believe she's being stalked. A

12:15 pm – THAT MIDNIGHT KISS (MGM, 1949): Kathryn Grayson, Mario Lanza & Jose Iturbi. A singing truck driver battles snobbery to become a star. C+

2:15 am – MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (Columbia, 1978): Brad Davis, Irene Miracle. A tense and often frightening story of a man arrested for smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison. A-

4:30 am – THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT (WB, 1945): Jack Benny, Alexis Smith. Benny is an angel sent to earth to destroy it with a trumpet blast because things are so bad. C-

January 18

6:00 am – THE STRANGER’S RETURN (MGM, 1933): Lionel Barrymore, Miriam Hopkins. A divorcee visits her grandfather's farm to recover and discovers a life she never expected. A

7:45 am – THE WORLD CHANGES (WB, 1933): Paul Muni, Aline MacMahon. When farmer Muni strikes it rich in business, it goes to his head. A-

9:30 am – AS THE EARTH TURNS (WB, 1934): Jean Muir, Donald Woods. A young couple must face the hardships of farm life in Maine. B-

11:00 am – STALLION ROAD (WB, 1947): Ronald Reagan, Alexis Smith & Zachary Scott. A veterinarian and a novelist compete for the heart of a lady rancher. C

1:00 pm – THE PURCHASE PRICE (WB, 1932): Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent. A nightclub singer on the lam becomes a farmer’s mail order bride. B+

2:30 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-

8:00 pm – CLUNY BROWN (Fox, 1946): Charles Boyer, Jennifer Jones. A servant girl's passion for plumbing shocks London society. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. C+

10:00 pm – THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE (Franco London Films, 1954): Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux. A pair of earrings sold to satisfy a gambling debt leads to a series of betrayals. A+

12:00 am – UNE PARISENNE (UA, 1957): Charles Boyer, Henri Vidal & Brigitte Bardot. The daughter of a big French politico marries his secretary, but when her husband starts fooling around, she takes off to the Riviera. C

3:30 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+

5:45 am – CONFIDENTIAL AGENT (WB, 1945): Charles Boyer, Lauren Bacall & Peter Lorre. Spanish spy Boyer and American heiress Bacall join to battle Fascism in this tale based on Graham Greene’s novel.A-

January 19

7:45 am – KEPT HUSBANDS (RKO, 1931): Dorothy Mackaill, Joel McCrea. Steel worker McCrea marries the boss’s daughter and later has to teach her how to live on a budget. B

9:15 am – THE SPORT PARADE (RKO, 1932): Joel McCrea, William Gargan. Football teammates follow different paths after graduation. One becomes a sports reporter while the other ends up as a pro wrestler. B

10:30 am – ROCKABYE (RKO, 1932): Constance Bennett, Joel McCrea. A Broadway star tries to hold onto an adopted child and a younger man. C-

11:45 am – BORN TO LOVE (RKO, 1932): Constance Bennett, Joel McCrea. A World War I pilot thought dead turns up after the mother of his child has married. C

1:15 pm – BED OF ROSES (RKO, 1933): Constance Bennett, Joel McCrea. A girl from the wrong side of the tracks is torn between true love and a life of sin. A

2:30 pm – CHANCE AT HEAVEN (RKO, 1933): Joel McCrea, Ginger Rogers, & Marion Nixon. McCrea is a simple gas station attendant who dumps working-class girlfriend Rogers for society girl Nixon. C

4:00 pm – GAMBLING LADY (WB, 1934): Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea. Two gamblers fall in love, but one is already married to a possible murderer. B-

6:45 pm – WOMAN WANTED (MGM, 1935): Maureen O’Sullivan. Joel McCrea, & Louis Calhern. Wrongly convicted O’Sullivan escapes from prison thanks to gang leader Calhern because she has information he needs. C+

8:00 pm – FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX (20TH Century Fox, 1965): James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, & Peter Finch. The survivors of a desert plane crash try to get back in the air. A-

10:45 pm – THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (Fox, 1972): Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine. Passengers and crew struggle to escape an ocean liner turned upside down. B-

1:00 am – FIVE CAME BACK (RKO, 1939): Chester Morris, Lucille Ball. Survivors of a jungle plane crash realize that their repaired airplane can only carry five passengers. A-

2:30 am – BACK FROM ETERNITY (RKO, 1956): Robert Ryan, Anita Ekberg. After an airliner crashes in the jungle, the repaired craft can only hold five passengers. B-

4:30 am – ABANDON SHIP! (Columbia, 1957): Tyrone Power, Mai Zetterling. After a luxury liner sinks, the officer in charge of an overcrowded lifeboat must decide who can stay on board. B+

January 20

6:15 am – BERKELEY SQUARE (Fox, 1933): Leslie Howard, Heather Angel. Young American Howard travels in time back to 1782 London, living a completely different life. A-

7:45 am – MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (Paramount, 1937): Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi. A devoted couple faces the grim realities of growing older and being shunted aside by their children. A+

12:00 pm – COVER GIRL (Columbia, 1944): Rita Hayworth, Gene Kelly. A nightclub dancer makes it big as a model and leaves her boyfriend behind. B+

2:00 pm – MY DREAM IS YOURS (WB, 1949): Jack Carson, Doris Day. A talent scout turns a young unknown into a singing star on the radio. C+

4:00 pm – THE GUILT OF JANET AMES (Columbia, 1947): Rosalind Russell, Melvyn Douglas. A hard-drinking reporter tries to help the embittered widow of the soldier who had saved his life during the war. A

5:45 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

8:00 pm – THE BAND WAGON (MGM, 1953): Fred Astaire, Nanette Fabares, Oscar Levant, & Cyd Charisse. Astaire is a Hollywood song and dance man whose transition to Broadway proves painful. A+

10:15 pm – ROYAL WEDDING (MGM, 1951): Fred Astaire, Jane Powell. A brother-and -sister musical team finds romance when they tour London for Elizabeth II’s wedding. B

12:00 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+

2:00 am – THE NIGHT VISITOR (UMC Pictures, Inc., 1971): Max von Sydow, Trevor Howard & Liv Ullmann. A farmer is framed for murder and railroaded into an insane asylum by his sister and her doctor husband. C

4:00 am – EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC (WB, 1977): Linda Blair, Richard Burton. Regan is repossessed and Burton must free her from the demon. F

January 21

8:00 am – THE NORTH STAR (Goldwyn/RKO, 1943): Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, and Walter Huston. It’s about a tale of heroic Ukrainian villagers that resist the Nazi invasion. Baloney. C-

10:00 am – ACT OF VIOLENCE (MGM, 1949): Robert Ryan, Van Heflin.  An embittered vet (Ryan) searches for the POW (Van Heflin) who informed on him to the Nazis. C+

12:00 pm – THE LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER (Paramount, 1935): Gary Cooper, Franchot Tone & Richard Cromwell. Three British soldiers in India fight the enemy and each other. A

2:00 pm – THE CORSICAN BROTHERS (UA, 1941): Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Ruth Warrick. Siamese twins, separated in infancy, join forces to avenge their parents’ murder. B+

6:00 pm – TITANIC (Fox, 1953): Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck. Webb and Stanwyck as a bickering couple who come to realize their problems pale to the ship sinking. B+

8:00 pm – ABSENCE OF MALICE (Columbia, 1981): Paul Newman, Sally Field. An ambitious reporter unwittingly slanders a businessman under federal investigation. A

10:15 pm – THE CHINA SYNDROME (MGM, 1979): Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon & Michael Douglas. A television newswoman stumbles onto deadly secrets at a nuclear power plant. A-

12:30 am – THE VIKING (MGM, 1929): Donald Crisp, Pauline Starke. This silent two-strip Technicolor opus concerns two Norse brothers who vie for the throne and the same woman. B-

2:15 am – THE TREE OF WOODEN CLOGS (Curzon Film World, 1978): Luigi Ornaghi, Francesca Moriggi. Migrant workers struggle to send their child to school. A-

January 22

6:00 am – SAFE IN HELL (WB, 1931): Dorothy Mackaill, Donald Cook. Unaware that she is a prostitute wanted for murder in New Orleans, a vicious local police chief of a Caribbean island sets his sights on her.B-

7:30 am – MILLIE (RKO, 1931): Helen Twelvetrees, Lilyan Tashman. In order to protect the honor of her teenaged daughter, a prostitute turns to murder. C

9:00 am – ANNA CHRISTIE (MGM, 1930): Greta Garbo, Charles Bickford. Garbo talks! O’Neill’s classic play about a romantic prostitute trying to run away from her past becomes Garbo’s first talkie. A-

10:45 am – RAIN (MGM, 1932): Joan Crawford, Walter Huston. A missionary (Huston) tries to reform a prostitute (Crawford) on a Pacific Island. B-

12:30 pm – PRIMROSE PATH (RKO, 1940): Ginger Rogers, Joel McCrea, & Miles Mander. Girl from the wrong side of the tracks Rogers falls for ambitious go-getter McCrea. C-

2:15 pm – THE ANGEL WORE RED (MGM, 1960): Ava Gardner, Dirk Bogarde. A priest and a prostitute fall in love during the Spanish Civil War. C+

5:45 pm – CANNERY ROW (MGM, 1982): Nick Nolte, Debra Winger. Marine biologist Nolte falls for hooker Winger in a depressed section of Monterey, California. B

8:00 pm – THE BLACK STALLION (UA, 1979): Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney & Teri Garr. A boy and a horse forge a close friendship after being shipwrecked together in Africa. B+

10:15 pm – WINGS OF DESIRE (Argos Films, 1987): Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin. An angel, tired of overseeing human activity, wishes to become human after falling in love with a mortal. Rating: See above.

12:45 am – DAY FOR NIGHT (Films du Carrosse, 1973): Jacqueline Bisset, Valentina Cortese. A director struggles to complete his film while coping with a myriad of crises among his cast and crew. A+

January 8–January 14


THE LION IN WINTER (January 9, 5:30 pm): I've never shied away from expressing my dislike for Katharine Hepburn's acting. I think she had very little talent, and is the most overrated mainstream actress in the history of cinema. But I've got to give the devil her due – she is absolutely brilliant in The Lion in Winter, a 1968 film in which she stars as Eleanor of Aquitaine in the year 1183. She is imprisoned by her husband, Henry II (Peter O'Toole delivering yet another fantastic performance), as the two greatly differ over which of their sons will be next in line to the thrown of England. While not historically accurate, it's a wildly entertaining film with Hepburn and O'Toole trading biting lines with each other. One of my favorites has the two of them walking arm-in-arm smiling at their subjects while Eleanor is giving Henry grief. He says, "Give me a little peace." Without skipping a beat, Eleanor responds: "A little? Why so modest? How about eternal peace? Now, that's a thought." A great story, great costumes, great directing and a great cast that also includes Anthony Hopkins in his film debut, Timothy Dalton and Nigel Terry.

GASLIGHT (January 11, 8:00 pm): As a huge fan of Joseph Cotten and Ingrid Bergman, it's great to see that when the two teamed together in this 1944 film that the result was spectacular. (Unfortunately, the chemistry between the two wasn't nearly as good when they worked together on Alfred Hitchcock's Under Capricorn five years later.) Gaslight has fantastic pacing, starting slowly planting the seeds of Bergman's potential insanity and building to a mad frenzy with Cotten's Scotland Yard inspector saving the day and Bergman gaining revenge. While Charles Boyer has never been a favorite of mine, he is excellent in this role as Bergman's scheming husband who is slowly driving her crazy. Also deserving of praise is Angela Lansbury in her film debut as the couple's maid. Lansbury has the hots for Boyer and nothing but disdain for Bergman. A well-acted, well-directed film that is one I always enjoy viewing no matter how many times I see it.


THE HONEYMOON KILLERS (Jan. 8, 12:30 am.): An excellent low-budget film based on the true case of Ray Hernandes (Tony LoBianco) and Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler), who were dubbed by the press as “The Lonely Hearts Killers.” They would meet unsuspecting and lonely females via "lonely heart" letters. Their victims would correspond in the hope of meeting and building a romantic relationship that would hopefully result in marriage. Fernandez would "marry" these women (with Beck pretending to be Raymond's sister) and subsequently rob and often murder them. Masterfully written and directed by Leonard Kastle with excellent performances all around. As critic Michael Weldon noted in The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film: “Definitely not made by the usual bozos. Required viewing.”

THE NARROW MARGIN (Jan. 13, 10:15 pm): A superb low-budget noir from RKO skillfully directed by Richard Fleischer and  starring Charles McGraw and Don Beddoe as L.A. detectives who must travel to Chicago and bring back by train the widow of mobster Frankie Neall (Marie Windsor), where she’s scheduled to testify before the L.A. Grand Jury against her former husband and further provide a "payoff" list. They are spotted by other gang members who try to kill the widow and the detective after attempts at bribery have failed. McGraw’s only advantage is that the assassins don’t know what she looks like. Clocking in at a taut 70 minutes, the film doesn’t real the tension for a second. Some think it’s the greatest noir ever made. Watch it and see if you agree.

WE AGREE ON ... THE PHENIX CITY STORY (January 8, 4:45 am)

ED: A+. Directed by Phil Karlson, based on real events, and filmed right in Phenix City itself this is a one-of-a-kind part documentary, part social justice film and part noir. Besides the location filming (on the city's notorious 14th Street, the heart of the mob’s operations) Karlson introduces the film with about 15 minutes of interviews conducted by famed newsman Clete Roberts with the town folk after the Alabama State National Guard had stepped in to clean it up. Set in 1954, drugs were sold openly, prostitutes solicited johns on the street corners, and sleazy clubs offered gambling, mainly to soldiers on leave from Fort Benning, right across the Chattahoochee River in Columbus, Georgia. Not seen by the citizens and soldiers were other even worse rackets that included a safe-cracking school and a black-market baby ring. Things were fine until the state's attorney general elect – whose campaign promise was that he would clean up the city  was murdered in 1954 did Alabama’s citizens call for action against the mob that ran the town. After the killing, the national guard was sent in and the major crime bosses fled. Karlson’s direction was nearly flawless. Though Richard Kiley (who plays John Patterson, the son of murder Attorney General-elect Albert Patterson), is top-billed, the film has no real star. Karlson used supporting actors like John McIntyre (as Albert Patterson), Edward Andrews (as syndicate leader Rhett Tanner), John Larch as the lowlife hit man Clem Wilson, and Kathryn Grant (who later married Bing Crosby) as Ellie Rhodes who gathers evidence for Albert and John Patterson. Given a limited budget by Allied Artists (the company that succeeded Monogram Pictures), Phil Karlson managed not only to make one of the most fascinating films about American crime history, but he also created a style that would be replicated in noirs to come, such as Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing and The Lineup. Karlson himself went on to direct The Scarface Mob for Desilu, the pilot episode of the series The Untouchables, undeniably the grittiest and darkest series in the history of television.

DAVID: A+. Dubbed "The Wickedest City in America" and "Sin City, U.S.A." Phenix City, Alabama, lived up to its reputation. The city, just across the river from Columbus, Georgia, was a cesspool of crime, corruption, murder and mayhem for decades. That The Phenix City Story (1955) captures the essence of the city and the events that occurred just a year earlier is a testament to how extraordinary the film is. The movie begins with people who lived through the 1954 murder of state Attorney General-elect Albert Patterson, a Phenix City native who ran on a platform of cleaning up the town, and the events that followed being interviewed by Los Angeles Clete Roberts. The interviews give the film a stamp of journalistic integrity as the movie is filmed on location in semi-documentary style as told by Richard Kiley, who plays Albert Patterson's son, John. The son would later succeed him as attorney general and would go on to become governor of Alabama. Directed by Phil Karlson, who made several hard-hitting violent films throughout his career, including the original Walking Tall, there's a high level of authenticity to the film even though one of its most shocking scenes – the body of a young girl murdered by the mob thrown onto the lawn of the Patterson's house as a warning that their child could be next – didn't actually occur by accounts of those who investigated the crimes in Phenix City. Nevertheless, it's an incredible scene as is shows the sheer horror of life in this corrupt small town. Karlson shows the environment of a living hell for decent people victimized by the mob who finally rise up and fight back. One irony is the outraged citizens preach nonviolence but there is a tremendous amount of violence in the film. Actually, this is one of the most violent films of its era with people murdered in vicious ways. As film critic Martin Rubin wrote: "Many movies since have portrayed more explicit and elaborate violence, but few have conveyed violence's chaotic force with such intelligent crudeness." TCM doesn't show this film enough and putting it on at 4:45 am is a pity because people aren't going to just catch it. But it's definitely one to tape and enjoy. 

Schedule Subject to Change (All Times Eastern)

January 8

6:00 am – ADAM’S RIB (MGM, 1949): Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, David Wayne, & Judy Holliday. Tracy and Hepburn are husband and wife lawyers on opposite sides in a murder case. B

7:45 am – THE REFORMER AND THE REDHEAD (MGM, 1950): June Allyson, Dick Powell. A small town politician falls for an idealistic zookeeperC+

9:30 am – M (Columbia, 1951): David Wayne, Howard Da Silva. When the police hunt for a child killer cramps their style, the criminal underworld tries to track him down. B

11:15 am – 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 – THE THREE FACES OF EVE (Fox, 1957): Joanne Woodward, Lee. J. Cobb. Psychiatrist Cobb tries to help patient Woodward integrate her different personalities. A-

4:15 pm – THE LAST ANGRY MAN (Columbia, 1959): Paul Muni, David Wayne. Muni is a doctor who cares for the poor. His nephew then makes him the subject of a documentary. B-

8:00 pm – IN COLD BLOOD (Columbia, 1967): Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, & John Forsythe. Two vagrants commit a savage crime in this real-life shocker based on the best seller by Truman Capote. A+

10:30 pm – 10 RILLINGTON PLACE (Columbia, 1971): Richard Attenborough, John Hurt & Judy Geeson. Attenborough plays John Reginald Christie, the English landlord and serial killer. A

12:30 am – THE HONEYMOON KILLERS (Cinerama Releasing Corp, 1970): Shirley Stoler, Tony LoBianco. A family nurse and her gigolo lover murder a string of widows. A-

2:30 am – DOG DAY AFTERNOON (WB, 1975): Al Pacino, John Cazale. A man tries to rob a bank in order to pay for his lover’s sex-change operation. A

4:45 am – THE PHENIX CITY STORY (Allied Artists, 1955): Richard Kiley, John McIntire. Phil Karlson directed this fact-based story of “the wickedest city in America” and the events that finally made authorities act. A

January 9

6:30 am – SWEET KITTY BELLAIRS (WB, 1930): Claudia Dell, Ernest Torrance & Walter Pidgeon. An 18th-century English flirt wins the heart of a notorious highwayman. C

7:45 am – THE SWORDSMAN OF SIENA (MGM, 1962): Stewart Granger, Sylva Koscina. An adventurer's loyalties are tested when he falls in with rebels in 16th-century Spain. C+

9:30 am – ANNA KARENINA (MGM, 1935): Greta Garbo, Frederic March. Garbo dominates this glossy adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic tale of a woman who deserts her family for an illicit love. A+

11:15 am – THE ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (WB, 1948): Errol Flynn, Viveca Lindfors: The legendary lover saves his queen from traitors. B+

1:15 pm  – PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (MGM, 1940): Laurence Olivier, Greer Garson. Jane Austen's comic classic about the five Bennett sisters, all out to nab husbands in 19th-century England. A+

3:30 pm – 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+

5:30 pm – THE LION IN WINTER (Avco Embassy, 1968): Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, & Anthony Hopkins. King Henry II and Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine argue over the choice of an heir. A+

8:00 pm – BREWSTER’S MILLIONS (U.A., 1945): Dennis O’Keefe, Helen Walker. A veteran must spend $1 million in 60 days in order to inherit a fortune. B-

9:30 pm – ONCE A THIEF (MGM, 1965): Alain Delon, Ann-Margaret, & Van Heflin. Young ex-com Delon tries to go straight, but gets caught up into another criminal scheme. C+

11:15 pm – SING YOUR WORRIES AWAY (RKO, 1942): Bert Lahr, June Havoc. A daffy songwriter inherits a fortune but has to fight off gangsters to get it. C

12:45 am – FOUR JACKS AND A JILL (RKO, 1942): Ray Bolger, Anne Shirley. A nightclub band’s new singer becomes the center of a romantic mix-up. C

2:15 am – POWDER TOWN (RKO, 1942): Victor McLaglen, Edmond O’Brien. A scientist and a munitions foreman clash in the race to create a new explosive. C-

3:45 am – THE FORMULA (MGM, 1980): George C. Scott, Marlon Brando. A detective is in jeopardy after discovering a synthetic formula for gasoline. C+

January 10

8:15 am – THE JOURNEY MGM, 1959): Deborah Kerr, Yul Brenner. A Communist officer falls for a married woman trying to escape from Hungary. B

10:30 am – CATLOW (MGM, 1971): Yul Brenner, Richard Crenna & Leonard Nimoy. An outlaw after two million dollars in gold must avoid both his friend, the marshal, and a sadistic bounty hunter. C-

12:15 pm – ROMANCE OF A HORSETHIEF (Allied Artists, 1971): Yul Brenner, Eli Wallach. A Cossack who has gained control of a small Jewish village is not welcome, but tolerated, until the town revolts. C-

2:00 pm – THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV (MGM, 1958): Yul Brenner, Lee J. Cobb & William Shatner. Richard Brooks directed this impressive adaptation of the Dostoevsky’s classic. A

4:30 pm – WESTWORLD (MGM, 1973): Yul Brenner, Richard Benjamin. A futuristic amusement park turns deadly when its robot workers go on a killing spree. B+

6:15 pm – THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (WB, 1975): Yul Brenner, Max von Sydow. In a plague devastated world, one tired man finds a reason to fight. C-

8:00 pm – GANDHI (Columbia, 1982): Ben Kingsley, John Gielgud. Richard Attenborough directed this sweeping biopic of the man who gained India her independence. Kingsley is stunning. A-

11:30 pm – SUNRISE AT CAMPOBELLO (WB, 1960): Ralph Bellamy, Greer Garson. After a bout with polio FDR must rest and contemplate his political future. A

2:15 am – YOUNG WINSTON (Columbia 1972): Simon Ward, Peter Cellier. Richard Attenborough directed this biopic about the life of Winston Churchill from 1897 through his later entry into politics. A-

January 11

7:30 am – ZEBRA IN THE KITCHEN (MGM, 1965): Jay North, Martin Milner. A young boy tries to liberate animals from the city zoo. C-

9:15 am – CLARENCE, THE CROSS-EYED LION (MGM, 1965): Marshall Thompson, Betsy Drake. Animal doctors fight to protect Africa’s wildlife. B-

11:00 am – FLIPPER (MGM, 1963): Chuck Connors, Luke Halpin. A fisherman in the Florida Keys opposes his son’s friendship with a dolphin. C

12:45 am – FLIPPER’S NEW ADVENTURE (MGM, 1964): Luke Halpin, Pamela Franklin. The heroic dolphin helps capture a group of escaped convicts. C-

2:30 pm – LASSIE COME HOME (MGM, 1943): Donald Crisp, Roddy McDowell. The faithful collie undertakes an arduous journey to return to her lost family. A

6:00 pm – BRINGING UP BABY (RKO, 1938): Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn. Howard Hawks directed this great screwball comedy about a naïve professor who is pursued by a dizzy heiress with a pet leopard. B

8:00 pm – GASLIGHT (MGM, 1944): Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, & Joseph Cotten. A newlywed fears she’s going mad when strange things start happening at the family mansion. A

10:15 pm – HOLD BACK THE DAWN (Paramount, 1941): Charles Boyer, Olivia De Havilland. A gigolo fleeing Nazi occupation targets a shy schoolteacher who happens to be a U.S. citizen. B

12:30 am – BACK STREET (Universal, 1941): Charles Boyer, Margaret Sullavan & Richard Carlson. A woman accepts life in the shadows as the price for her affair with a married man. A

2:15 am – TALES OF MANHATTAN (Fox, 1942): Charles Boyer, Rita Hayworth. A formal tailcoat that gets passed from one owner to another affects each life in a significant way. B

4:30 am – THE CONSTANT NYMPH (WB, 1943): Charles Boyer, Joan Fontaine, & Alexis Smith. A composer finds inspiration in his wife’s romantic cousin. B+

January 12

6:30 am – TOGETHER AGAIN (Columbia, 1944): Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer. A charming comedy about a small town widowed mayor who gets the gossip flowing when she falls for a sophisticated sculptor. A-

8:15 am – THE TOY WIFE (MGM, 1938): Luise Rainer, Melvyn Douglas, & Robert Young. Southern belle Rainer finds herself torn between two suitors. D+

10:00 am – THE GREAT WALTZ (MGM, 1938): Luise Reiner, Fernand Gravey. The story of waltz king Johann Strauss II. C

12:00 pm – THE EMPEROR’S CANDLESTICKS (MGM, 1937): William Powell, Luise Rainer. Spies on opposite sides fall in love in pre-Revolution Russia. C+

2:00 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

5:15 pm – THE GOOD EARTH (MGM, 1936): Paul Muni, Luise Rainer. Sidney Franklin and Victor Fleming directed this epic adaptation of Pearl Buck’s classic novel about Chinese farmers battling the elements. A

8:00 pm – MAN IN THE WILDERNESS (WB, 1971): Richard Harris, John Huston. After being mauled by a bear, a frontiersman is left for dead, but survives and comes to be looked upon as a God by the Indians. B+

10:00 pm – INFERNO (Fox, 1953): Robert Ryan, Rhonda Fleming. A tough, hard-driving business tycoon suffers a broken leg and is left to die in the desert by his scheming wife and her greedy lover. B+

11:45 pm – ROBINSON CRUSOE (UA, 1954): Daniel O’Herlihy, Jaime Fernández. Luis Bunuel directs this version of Defoe’s classic about a shipwrecked Englishman fighting to survive on a desert island. A

1:30 am – INTO THE WILD (Paramount, 2007): Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden. After graduating college, a man gives away his possessions and moves to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Based on a true story. A+

4:15 am – THE SECRET LAND (MGM, 1948): Robert Montgomery, Robert Taylor & Van Heflin. Documentary about Admiral Richard Byrd and his explorations of the Antarctic. A-

January 13

6:00 am –- IT’S A DATE (Universal, 1940): Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, & Walter Pidgeon. Mother and daughter singers compete for the same stage part and the same man. B-

10:00 am – THE HUMAN COMEDY (MGM, 1943): Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan. A small-town telegraph boy deals with the strains of growing up during World War II. A

12:00 pm – THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (MGM, 1952): Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr. An Englishman who resembles the king of a small European nation gets mixed up in intrigue when the king is kidnapped. B-

2:15 pm – SAFARI (Columbia, 1956): Victor Mature, Janet Leigh. While leading a wealthy couple on safari, a hunter tries to avenge his son's murder. B-

4:00 pm – ANNA LUCASTA (UA, 1959): Eartha Kitt, Frederick O’Neal. A reformed prostitute falls in love with the man her family wants her to fleece. C-

8:00 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. B+

10:15 pm – THE NARROW MARGIN (RKO, 1952): Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor. A tough cop meets his match when he must accompany a gangster’s moll on a tense train ride. A+

12:00 am – MURDER INC. (Fox, 1960): Stuart Whitman, May Britt & Henry Morgan. A glimpse into Brooklyn's 1930s crime syndicates, where mobsters used hired killers to enact their dirty work. A

2:00 am – THE MACK (Cinerama Releasing Corp., 1973): Max Julien, Don Gordon. A powerful pimp takes on two corrupt cops out to bring him down. B-

4:00 am – SUPERFLY (MGM, 1972): Ron O’Neal, Carl Lee & Sheila Frazier. A cocaine dealer plans one last big score before getting out of the business. B+

January 14

6:00 am – THE DAWN PATROL (WB, 1930): Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. A flight commander in France cracks under the pressure of sending men to their deaths. A

8:00 am – JOHNNY BELINDA (WB, 1948): Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres. A small-town doctor helps a deaf-mute farm girl learn to communicate. A

10:00 am – 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-

2:00 pm – PASSAGE TO MARSEILLE (WB, 1944): Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre & Sidney Greenstreet. A gang of convicts escape from Devil’s Island and join the Free French. B+

4:00 pm – KNOCK ON ANY DOOR (Columbia, 1949): Humphrey Bogart, John Derek. Bogie’s an idealistic lawyer defending juvenile delinquent Derek in Nicholas Ray’s directorial debut. B-

8:00 pm – THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (Fox, 1947): Gene Tierney, Rex Harrison. A spirited widow rents a haunted cottage and develops a friendship with its resident ghost. A-

10:00 pm – RINGS ON HER FINGERS (Fox, 1942): Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney & Laird Crager. A sales woman at a department store works with two con artists and falls in love with a victim of one of their schemes. C+

12:00 pm – THE FLYING FLEET (MGM, 1929): Ramon Navarro, Ralph Graves & Anita Page. A naval cadet braves a perilous trans-Pacific flight for love. Silent. C

2:00 am – BEING TWO ISN’T EASY (Daiei, 1962): Fujiko Yamamoto, Eijii Funakoshi. A middle-class couple struggles to raise their infant son, as seen through the two-year-old's own eyes. B+

3:45 am – GOOD MORNING (Shochiku Eiga, 1959): Koji Shidara, Masahiko Shimazu. Two boys pressure their parents into buying them a television set in this poignant satire. A+

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1 comment:

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