Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” Thread, for the week of July 25-31, 2016. Packer training camp opens this week, but there are five meaningless exhibition football games before the real football begins. So while you're waiting for real football, why not enjoy some good movies instead? As always, I've used my good taste to bring you an interesting cross-section of the good flicks you can catch this week. Times are in Eastern, of course, unless otherwise mentioned.
We'll start off this week with something not on TCM: Destry Rides Again, at 7:50 AM Monday on StarzEncore Westerns. James Stewart plays Tom Destry Jr., but more on him in a bit. The western town of Bottleneck is lawless, mostly because it's run by land-shark Kent (Brian Donlevy) and the saloon owner Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich), who have run off a bunch of sheriffs. The new sheriff Dimsdale (Charles Winninger) decides he's going to change things by hiring Tom Destry Jr., son of a previous sheriff, as a deputy. What he doesn't realize is that Destry Jr. is the polar opposite of his father, being very mild-mannered and not wanting to commit violence. Things begin to change around town, however, when Frenchy begins to fall for Tom. This is a relatively comic western, as can be seen from the actor playing cowboy turned second deputy, Mischa Auer.
On Monday night, TCM is shining a light on actor Robert Francis, a promising young actor who made four films before his untimely death in a plane crash. He's probably best known for his role as the young naval officer with a girlfriend back home in The Caine Mutiny (airing at midnight Tuesday ie. 11:00 PM Monday LFT), but this week I'll recommend The Bamboo Prison instead; that's on at 10:30 PM Monday. In this one, Francis plays Sgt. Rand, an American officer who was taken POW during the Korean War and is still at a POW camp, even though he's turned and become a supporter of Communism. New to the prison is Cpl. Brady (Brian Keith), who is really there to find out what's going on with all the American POWs. He discovers that Sgt. Rand may not be all he seems to. There's EG Marshall as a communist-sympathizing priest, and a Soviet ballerina who married another American turncoat.
A movie returning to FXM Retro after an absence is The Adventures of Hajji Baba, at 11:55 AM Tuesday and 10:10 AM Wednesday. Hajji Baba, played by John Derek, is a barber in medieval Persia who, while out in the desert, runs into Princess Fawzia (Elaine Stewart) and her entourage. She's being taken to be married off to a prince in an arranged marriage which should cement her father's power and wealth. She doesn't want that, and when she finds out just who this prince is, Hajji helps fight off the prince, winning Fawzia's affection. Of course, this is a problem since a princess can't be in love with a commoner. There's also the problem of the Turkoman warriors, a group of amazons led by Banah (Amanda Blake, who would go on to be Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke). They take Hajji and Fawzia hostage. It's all a moderately entertaining adventure yarn, although the last time it showed up on FXM they butchered it by showing a pan-and-scan print. (Oh, and the less said about the title song, the better.)
We get two final days of westerns as part of TCM's salute to 100 great westerns. One that I don't think I've recommended before is Wild Rovers, at 1:30 AM Wednesday. William Holden plays Ross, an aging cowhand who has become a sort of mentor to Frank (Ryan O'Neal), who is young enough to be Ross' son. Frank looks at Ross and decides that he doesn't want to be like Ross when he gets to be that age, instead wanting something better from life. This, especially after they see another cowhand die in an accident. So Frank gets the brilliant idea of robbing the local bank and taking the money to make a fresh start in life; Ross reluctantly goes along. The robbery goes off OK, except that their boss Walter (Karl Malden), who owns practically everything around and whose money was most of the bank's deposits, wants his money back. So Walter has his two sons (Joe Don Baker and Tom Skerritt) pursue the robbers. This was directed by Blake Edwards, of all people, somebody you wouldn't necessarily think of when it comes to westerns.
Thursday morning and afternoon sees a birthday salute to Joe E. Brown on TCM, with a lot of his early comedies being highlighted. One of his movies I think I haven't recommended before is Sally, airing at 7:45 AM Thursday. Sally, played by Marilyn Miller, is a woman who was left at an orphanage as a child, growing up with a hard life and wanting to make it as a singer and dancer. Now working as a waitress, she meets a theatrical agent who might give her a chance, except that she accidentally spills food in his lap – there goes the chance. She meets a wealthy scion who is taken with her dancing, watching it through the windows of the restaurant, but his dad wants him to marry a more suitable socialite. Still, Sally pursues her dream of making it on the Broadway stage. Joe E. Brown plays a platonic friend, a former Grand Duke impoverished by a European revolution. This film is taken from a musical of the same name which made Miller a star a decade earlier, and which introduced the song “Look for the Silver Lining”. The movie was originally made in two-strip Technicolor, but only one scene survives that way today.
We get one final look at America in the 1970s on TCM in prime time Thursday night, with films such as Let's Do It Again at 4:00 AM Friday. Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier (the latter also directed) play a pair of friends who are also members of a fraternal lodge that's failing financially. So the two get a daring idea. They'll take the lodge's building fund, and go to New Orleans to sponsor boxer Bootey (Jimmie Walker, just before Good Times). However, he's no good, and the only way they get can get him to be any good involves Poitier hypnotizing him. They place wagers on him and those wagers pay off, but that brings the attention of the mob which controls all those bookies, since this isn't Vegas. If it weren't for the recent sexual assault allegations, you might be surprised at Cosby's brand of comedy here; Poitier is OK but isn't the world's best comic actor by a long shot. You probably already know the title song, by the Staple Singers.
On Friday, TCM is showing a bunch of movies with actress-turned-First Lady Nancy Davis. One that doesn't show up so often is Donovan's Brain, which is on at 3:30 PM Friday. Former Dr. Kildare Lew Ayres stars as Dr. Cory, who has been doing research on the brains of lesser primates, and keeping them alive outside their animal bodies. He gets an opportunity to do much greater research, however, when the financier Donovan is in an accident, and Cory tries to keep the brain alive in an electromagnetic bath and do research on it. What he doesn't know, however, is that Donovan was a pretty bad man, and that the brain in that bath is beginning to develop telepathic powers, taking over the body of Dr. Cory! Nancy plays Mrs. Cory, who is the one to get the realization that they're going to have to unplug Donovan's brain, but by this time it's not only taking over Dr. Cory's body, but developing its own defense mechanisms.
If you like recent movies, you might enjoy Fletch, which is running on StarzEncore Classics at 10:50 AM Sunday, and on various channels in the Starz family at various other times. Chevy Chase plays Irwin Fletcher, nicknamed “Fletch”, an investigative journalist currently doing a story on the illicit drug trade. While researching that story and in disguise as a beach bum, he's approached by the wealthy Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson), who has an unsual request: he's dying of cancer, and would like the “bum” to kill him. Fletch, good journalist that he is, decides to do an undercover investigation on Stanwyk, and determines that Stanwyk is in fact quite healthy, and in fact may be involved with the drug trade going on on the beach, as well as a whole lot of other things. Of course, Chevy Chase being a comic actor, he gets to deliver a lot of funny lines and don a bunch of disguises, but there is a pretty solid mystery here.
TCM is showing a bunch of race movies tonight, and then another block of them next Sunday night. One of the interesting ones next Sunday is Dirty Gertie from Harlem USA at 9:15. This is a version of the "Miss [Sadie] Thompson" story from Somerset Maugham later retitled Rain; under the latter title it was a big movie for Joan Crawford in the early 1930s. The story involves a woman of ill repute who, in order to escape her past in the US, has decamped to tropical islands, the Caribbean in this all-black version. A preacher comes to the islands and tries to reform our heroine. And this is where part of the problem with this version comes in. Black audiences of the day had even more reverence for men of the cloth than white audiences would have, so the director had to change the ending of Maugham's story to fit in with the sensibilities of black audiences. Except that the new ending is a cop-out. And then there's Gertie, who unfortunately isn't all that dirty, just doing a littly shimmying in her big nightclub scene towards the end. Still, this is an interesting movie to watch just to see how the story was changed.
And as for the shorts? Well, TCM's shorts haven't been programmed too far in advance. The Ace Drummond serial is technically a bunch of two-reel chapters, and TCM is finishing up the series with the final five chapters this Saturday at 9:30 AM, before Summer Under the Stars and something new will be replacing it come September. One that is one the schedule, however, is Facing Your Danger, at 7:12 AM Wednesday (following Quantrill's Raiders at 6:00 AM). This is a Technicolor short about the first successful run down the rapids of Arizona's portion of the Colorado River, at least in the days before the Glen Canyon Dam was built and screwed up the river's flow even more. (Hoover Dam had already been built by this time.) Quite a few people died trying to race the rapids, which were apparently quite dangerous. The footage would probably look even more spectacular on the big screen.
Like we did in previous years, we'll use one thread to compile everything TC related. Players report Monday!
Things to know about Packers training camp
Posted Jul 22, 2016
First practice slated for July 26
TRAINING CAMP SET TO BEGIN IN GREEN BAY
A day circled on the calendar of every sports fan – the official beginning of the NFL season – will arrive this Tuesday when the Green Bay Packers kick off the 2016 campaign at Ray Nitschke Field.
Coming off a 2015 season that saw Green Bay post its seventh straight winning season and make the playoffs for a franchise-best seventh straight year, the Packers will begin to write this season’s story in front of fans at Nitschke Field.
A tradition first started under Curly Lambeau in 1946, training camp in Green Bay remains one of the most intimate settings in all of professional sports. 2016 marks the eighth summer at Nitschke Field, just a short bike ride away from the team facility.
Nitschke Field boasts the same playing surface as Lambeau Field and seating for 1,500 fans with unobstructed views.
Just as it does at Lambeau Field, new traditions blend with historic ones at Packers training camp, as players continue to ride children’s bicycles to practice, a tradition first started under the legendary Vince Lombardi. Players continue to stay in the dorms at St. Norbert College, the NFL’s longest training-camp relationship between a team and school.
According to the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, training camp, along with Packers Family Night, will attract nearly 90,000 visitors from across the nation and as many as 20 foreign countries from July 26 through the final open practice on Aug. 30. With an economic impact estimated at $9 million, training camp is a financial boost to many area businesses.
SAVE THE DATE Important dates to remember (all times CDT):
Monday, July 25 – Players report to training camp
Tuesday, July 26 – First practice, 8:15 a.m., Nitschke Field
Sunday, July 31 – Packers Family Night, Presented by Bellin Health, 6:25 p.m., Lambeau Field
Sunday, Aug. 7 – Hall of Fame Game, vs. Indianapolis Colts, 7 p.m., Canton, Ohio
Friday, Aug. 12 – Preseason game vs. Cleveland Browns, 7 p.m., Lambeau Field (Midwest Shrine Game)
Thursday, Aug. 18 – Preseason game vs. Oakland Raiders, 7 p.m., Lambeau Field (Bishop’s Charities Game)
Friday, Aug. 26 – Preseason game at San Francisco 49ers, 9 p.m., Levi’s Stadium
Tuesday, Aug. 30 – Final practice open to public, 11:45 a.m.,Nitschke Field
Tuesday, Aug. 30 – Roster reduction to a maximum of 75 players by 3 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 1 – Preseason game at Kansas City Chiefs, 7 p.m., Arrowhead Stadium
Saturday, Sept. 3 – Roster reduction to a maximum of 53 players by 3 p.m.
My RSS reader recently brought up a BBC radio documentary that I thought might be of interest to some here:
Missing the World Cup
Ghana's World Cup boycott of 1966 was a protest at the number of places at the World Cup given by FIFA to Africa. It is a story of politics, decolonisation and pan-Africanism. African champions in 1963 and 1965, and Olympic quarter-finalists in 1964, Ghana would have been the favourites to qualify for England – but the team, nicknamed the Black Stars, never got their chance. Missing the World Cup meets two players who regret their World Cup absence to this day – Osei Kofi and former team-mate Kofi Pare – and those close to the key agitators of the boycott, with another Ghanaian, Ohene Djan, eloquently leading the protest alongside the remarkable Ethiopian Yidnekatchew Tessema, a onetime Confederation of African Football president who was also a star player, coach and administrator.
I haven't had the chance to listen to it yet. You can download the MP3 here (12.4 MB, 27 min).
Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” thread, for the week of July 18-24, 2016. We're getting close to the time when football training camps open, but we're not quite there yet. So why not enjoy some good movies instead? As always, I've used my discerning taste to select several interesting movies for your viewing pleasure. As alwaya, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
I am very pleased to see that one of this week's TCM Imports is Ballad of a Soldier, airing at 4:00 AM Monday. Vladimir Ivashov plays Alyosha, a private in the Soviet Red Army in World War II. He's committed an act of heroism in neutralizing some German tanks, but instead of a medal, he really wants leave so he can go home and see his mother, who needs a new roof on the shack of a house she lives in. The general actually grants him several days' leave to go see Mother. But it's not an easy journey to get home, considering how transportation links are chaotic at best. Along the way he meets Shura (Zhanna Prohorenko) who is stowing away on a train, and falls in love with her; he helps an invalided veteran; and meets the wife of one of his buddies on the front, only to find that the home front isn't all it's cracked up to be. Still, Alyosha presses on to try to see his mother. This is a beautiful, touching movie that I highly recommend if you haven't seen it before.
TCM will be spending Monday morning and afternoon with actor Red Skelton. One of his movies that I'm not certain I've blogged about before is A Southern Yankee, at 9:00 AM. In this one, Skelton plays Aubrey, a bellboy at a St. Louis hotel during the Civil War. He thinks everybody is a Southern spy, but amazingly actually catches one called the “Grey Spider”. In doing so, however, he himself is mistaken for the Grey Spider by southern belle Sallyann (Arlene Dahl). So the Union military intelligence gets the brilliant idea of giving Aubrey fake plans to give to the southerners, and real plans to give to a Union spy in the south. They don't realize that Aubrey is actually incompetent and a bit of a coward, so he gets the plans mixed up, putting himself in grave danger. Of course, this being a Red Skelton comedy, you know he's going to get out of it alive, but you watch a Red Skelton movie to see how that happens. Well, that and the rest of the gags, of which there are a lot in his movies.
Monday night sees TCM's Guest Programmer for July: Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett, Jr. He sat down, I believe with Robert Osborne before the latter's prolonged absence from presenting movies on TCM, to talk about and present four of his favorite movies. Those choices are:
Blackboard Jungle at 8:00 PM, in which teacher Glenn Ford deals with students who are supposedly tough punks, at least by mid-50s standards;
Touch of Evil at 9:45 PM, with Charlton Heston playing a Mexican cop solving a cross-border murder case;
Lifeboat at 11:45 PM, Alfred Hitchcock's character study of people stuck aboard a lifeboat including the U-boat commander who destroyed the boat of the rest of the passengers; and
Night of the Hunter at 1:30 AM, in which Robert Mitchum chases after his two stepchilden looking for $20,000 their biological father hid.
Over on FXM Retro, there's The Return of the Cisco Kid, airing at 4:45 AM Friday. Warner Baxter returns for one final time, playing the character that won him an Oscar at the dawn of the talking picture era in In Old Arizona. Here, the story has The Cisco Kid meeting young Ann Carver (Lynn Bari), the granddaughter of Col. Bixby (Henry Hull). It seems that Bixby has been swindled by Sheriff McNally (Robert Barrat) out of his ranch, and won't somebody do something about it? So of course the Cisco Kid tries to do something about it. Along the way, he falls in love with Ann, although she's already got another man in the form of Alan (Kane Richmond), who has been representing the grandfather in court. The Cisco Kid actually starts thinking of things to do to get Alan out of the way! And not in a good way. How's that for a hero? The Cisco Kid's sidekick Lopez is played by Cesar Romero, who would go on to play The Cisco Kid in a half dozen movies not long after this. The Cisco Kid was not a friend of mine.
Those of you who want something more recent, The Movie Channel is running Glengarry Glen Ross at 12:15 AM Thursday. For those who don't know the movie, it's set at a real estate office where corporate headquarters have sent in a “motivator” (Alec Baldwin), with an interesting idea: there's going to be a contest to see which of the office's four salesman can sell the most over the next month. The winner gets a new car; second place gets an OK prize; the bottom two are out the door. Some motivation. The salesmen are Ricky (Al Pacino), the hotshot who it seems is still good at what he does; Dave (Ed Harris), who probably could have been a great salesman but seems to have let defeatism take over; George (Alan Arkin), who probably never should have gotten into sales at all; and Shelley (Jack Lemmon), who at one point was a good salesman, but is now too old and used up. In between them and the corporate motivator is office manager John (Kevin Spacey). If you want an intelligent movie instead of a comic book rehash with a plethora of special effects, this is the movie for you.
TCM is running a bunch of classic westerns this month. I'll mention a western that's just old, airing over on StarzEncore Westerns: The Fighting Vigilantes, Thursday at 4:50 AM. This one has an interesting plot idea. Law and order seems to have gone missing in one part of the west, and when US Marshal Davis (Lash LaRue) and his sidekick Fuzzy (Al St. John) go to investigate, they find that the local trading post owner is waylaying all the supply wagons and stagecoaches so that he can abscond with the food and sell it at inflated prices! The locals have set up a vigilante group, but so far that's failed, which is why Marshal Davis is here. Obviously, he's able to help the vigilantes; after all in a western like this would you expect anything else? This is a B western released by Povery Row studio Producers Releasing Corporation, so don't expect terribly good production values here.
The look at America in the 1970s continues on TCM on Thursday night, including The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three at 8:00 PM. The title refers to a subway train that starts in the Bronx and continues its route through Manhattan. Four men (Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, and Earl Hindman), code-named Blue, Green, Gray, and Brown, board this particular subway train and proceed to hijack it, decoupling the front car from the rest of the cars and holding eighteen people hostage. They then proceed to state their demands, for $1 million and safe passage out of the place. If they don't get the money at the appointed time, they'll kill one of the hostages for each minute the money is late. Back at the subway command center is Transit Police Lt. Garber (Walter Matthau). It's his job to negotiate with the hostage takers, as well as to deal with all the other authorities who are trying to manage the situation, not very successfully.
Early director Jack Conway gets a turn in the spotlight on Friday morning and afternoon. Typical of his work would probably be something likeJust a Gigolo, at 1:30 PM. (I make no apologies for the ear worm.) William Haines stars as Brummel, the nephew of a British nobleman, Lord Hampton (C. Aubrey Smith). Brummel has been living off of Hampton's allowance, being a playboy, and ticking off Hampton, who decides that either Brummel marries, or the allowance ends. So Brummel goes over to the UK to see who his uncle thinks he should marry, as well as to prove that women aren't so virtuous. He's going to play the part of a gigolo, dancing with intended fiancée Roxan (Irene Purcell) and getting her to have an affair with the gigolo, not knowing who he really is. However, things get complicated when Brummel actually falls in love with Roxan.
I'm not the biggest Woody Allen fan, but for those of you who do like his work, you'll be pleased to know that Manhattan is coming up this week on StarzEncore Classics at 2:15 AM Saturday. Allen plays Isaac, a television writer whose second wife Jill (Meryl Streep) has just left him – for another woman! Isaac has responded by taking up with Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), but she's just a high school studen, and the age difference causes all sorts of problems. Then Isaac meets journalist Mary (Diane Keaton), and falls in love with her. There's a catch, though: Mary is sleeping with Isaac's best friend Yale (Michael Murphy). Further complicating things is the fact that Yale is already married, and not to Mary, but Emily (Anne Byrne). Still, Mary isn't so certain she wants to be a mistress, so perhaps having a relationship with Isaac would be better, even though that would screw up Isaac's relationship with Yale.
TCM is showing a night of Brenda de Banzie movies on Saturday night, starting at 8:00 PM with Hobson's Choice. Hobson here is a family led by patriarch Henry (Charles Laughton), a shoemaker in late Victorian England. Henry is a widower with three adult daughters. Maggie (de Banzie) is the oldest; her kid sisters are Alice (Daphne Anderson) and Vicky (Prunella Scales). Dad doesn't want to marry them off because he'd have to pay dowries; besides, Maggie is too old. Maggie has other ideas, of course. She's fallen in love with Dad's assistant William (John Mills), and is determined to marry him and help him set up his own shoe shop. And after she does that, she'll set out to find husbands for her two sisters. The whole cast is wonderful, but especially Laughton who didn't get to do too much comedy in his career. David Lean directed, long before he got the budgets to do overblown stuff like Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. This is the sort of movie that shows just how well you can do when you have a good story.
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