Here's the thing I love about Emery. When he sees a problem or deficiency, he attacks it via multiple angles. He doesn't just sign one FA, he drafts the position as well. I think the Trestman/Emery duo are going to have a fantastic run in Chicago.
Welcome to another edition of Fedya's (the voice of reason's) "Movies to Tivo" thread, for the week of April 14-20, 2014. Easter is this Sunday, so we'll have some Easter movies on Sunday, but more on that later. Monday is the 20th anniversary of everybody's favorite movie channel, TCM, and that's being celebrated, along with a 90th anniversary and some birthdays. There are good movies on other channels, too. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Mickey Rooney died last week, and TCM is running a 24-hour programming tribute to Rooney that started at 6:00 AM this morning. Among the movies coming up overnight is Babes on Broadway, at 2:15 AM Monday. Mickey Rooney plays a young man who sings at an Italian restaurant (watch for future director Richard Quine, who's also part of the act). He's discovered by talent agent Fay Bainter, who tries to get her boss (James Gleason) to put Rooney on stage. Meanwhile, as part of the attempt to et on stage, Rooney is gathering up as much juvenile talent as he can, with the excuse that they're going to put on a charity show to get orphan children the chance to spend some time out in the fresh air. Judy Garland is by far the best of that talent, of course. But, as Rooney gets the kids ready for the show, success starts to go to his head, threatening everything. Watch for Rooney doing his best Carmen Miranda impression, too.
As I said earlier, Monday, April 14 is the actual 20th anniversary of TCM. The very first movie that TCM aired back on April 14, 1994, was Gone With the Wind, and that's going to be airing at 8:00 PM Monday. You know the story of Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), a beautiful Georgia belle on the verge of the Civil War, being in love with Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), except that he marries Melanie (Olivia de Havilland). So Scarlett responds by going after a series of men, both during and after the War, eventually trying her damnedest to get Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). Frankly, though, he doesn't give a damn. Along the way, she turns a curtain into a dress (cue the Psycho music), and teaches Butterfly McQueen something 'bout birthin' babies. There's some lovely Technicolor photography too, and a spectacular sequence of the burning of Atlanta.
Following Gone With the Wind, TCM will be re-airing the Private Screenings interview from earlier this year in which TCM host Robert Osborne himself was the interviewee. It's hosted by Alec Baldwin, and features all sorts of clips: from Osborne's early days as an actor, to an awkward appearance with Shelley Winters on the Dinah Shore Show, to being an entertainment correspondent on one of the many incarnations of CBS' morning show, to being a TCM host. Note the bit from the first day in which Osborne mentions that TCM is also going to air more recent movies, for those of you who bitch that I only recommend old movies. Perhaps more fun, though, are the beer commercials Osborne did when he was trying to become an actor, or his appearance in the pilot of The Beverly Hillbillies. It's a fun look at the host we all know and love.
If anybody's up for a service comedy, I suppose you could do worse than to watch Tuesday's TCM lineup, which has several. One that I don't think I've recommended before is Don't Go Near the Water, at 4:00 PM Tuesday. Glenn Ford plays a naval officer in World War II who, having served admirably, is sent to a base in the South Pacific for some lighter duty. This base is the base of operations for the public relations unit, headed by Fred Clark, whose character was in advertising back home but who also likes having the power he does here. Ford wants to get back into active duty since it offers better chances for promotion, as does Russ Tamblyn. But stuck on this backwater island, Ford is reduced to helping Earl Holliman get his girl (a nurse played by Anne Francis), while pursuing local teacher Gia Scala. There's not much plot to this amiable movie which veers closer to sketch comedy, although there is one sequence involving a hero sailor who unforutnately also swears like a sailor, which won't do for the PR tours.
Tragic actress Marie Prevost (Prevost is the actual spelling of her name) was born in November 1898, but is getting a daytime salute on TCM on Wednesday. Prevost plays the second woman to Joan Crawford in Paid, which is on at 8:30 AM. Crawford plays a woman who, at the start of the movie, is working as a department store clerk. However, she gets framed for a store robbery she didn't commit, and gets sent to prison for three years by what she sees as a corrupt legal system. So she studies law in prison, vowing to use the system against everybody else when she gets out. Prevost plays one of the fellow prisoners, and when the two of them get out, they team up with some other small-time con artists to engage in schemes that she intends to stay just on the right side of the law, much to the consternation of the DA (Hale Hamilton). The muscle of the group, however, has his eyes on bigger things, legality be damned.
Wednesday night's theme on TCM is butlers falling in love, although to be honest, a couple of them are fake butlers, as in If You Could Only Cook, at 10:30 PM. The fake butler is played by Herbert Marshall, who is in fact an automobile executive. He's been henpecked by a board that doesn't appreciate his ideas, as well as a fiancée he doesn't particularly like. So he runs off and winds up on a park bench, where he meets Jean Arthur, who's out of work (this is the Depression) and down on her luck, reading the want ads. Marshall pretends to have been a butler, and gets the two of them jobs as a cook and butler. The catch, though, is that the cook and butler are supposed to be married, so they have to feign marriage. The other catch is that the guy who hires them, Leo Carrillo, is actually a gangster, and his second-in-command, Lionel Stander, suspects there's something up with the new employees. Oh, and the board of the auto company and the jilted fiancée are still looking for Marshall, of course. Jean Arthur is great at this sort of screwball material, and Marshall is better than you might think.
I mentioned at the beginning that there's going to be a 90th anniversary salute this week, and that salute is to MGM, the studio that had more stars than there were in the firmament. On April 17, 1924, theater owner Marcus Loew gained control over Metro, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures, using the initials to make the name MGM. TCM is honoring that occasion by showing 48 hours of movies produced in MGM's first 40 years. TCM is bookending this marathon with Ben-Hur: first up, at 6:00 AM Thursday, is the 1925 silent and partially two-strip Technicolor version of the story, while the 1959 version comes on at 2:00 AM Saturday. Both movies tell the story of Judah Ben-Her (played by Ramon Novarro in 1925 and Charlton Heston in 1959), Jewish man and friend of Roman officer Massala (Francis X. Bushman and Stephen Boyd). Ben-Hur accidentally kills a Roman, becomes a galley slave for it, is strongly influenced by Jesus, and then regains his pride of place after beating Massala in a climactic chariot race. If you've seen the TCM short on letterboxing, which airs all the time, you'll remember Sydney Pollack saying he gets the heebie-jeebies thinking of Ben-Hur panned and scanned. But if you watch the 1925 version, you'll see that the chariot race in that film is almost as magnificent as in the 1959 version.
Last week, I recommended the movie Yellow Sky. In the 1960s, it was remade as The Jackals, and that remake shows up on FXM/the Fox Movie Channel, at 10:45 AM Friday. This time the starring role goes to the grandfather character, played by Vincent Price. He's in 19th century South Africa prospecting for gold with his granddaughter, when a gang of bank robbers stop by, having made a difficult journey through the desert. They of course figure out that there's a reason this old guy is here, and soon enough they figure out what that reason is. Some of them want the gold for themselves, although by now the head of the gang has fallen in love with the granddaughter and thinks the gang would be safer off with just the money they have, not trying to harass this grandfather for the gold. This is a close enough remake to Yellow Sky that screenwriter Lamar Trotti received credit for it as he did for Yellow Sky -- even though he'd been dead for 15 years by the time The Jackals was made!
Some of you complain that I recommend movies that are too old. I say nonsense: look at how many talkies I recommend! But if you're one of those philistines who only likes movies after 1980 or so, I've got one for you this week: Witness, airing at midnight Sunday (or 11:00 PM LFT Saturday) on Encore's east coast feed, with the west coast feed showing it at 3:00 AM Sunday. Kelly McGIllis plays an Amish woman traveling to Baltimore with her son (Lukas Haas) to see her sister. Unfortunately, at the train station in Philadelphia, the boy witnesses a murder as part of a drug deal gone bad in the train station restroom. Harrison Ford plays the detective assigned to the case, and is stunned when the boy identifies a fellow policeman, a narcotics officer played by Danny Glover, as the killer. (He shouldn't be surprised, given the corruptitude of the police.) The narc comes after Ford, and it's obvious he's going to come after the kid too, so Ford goes to he Amish community to try to keep the kid safe as well as go into hiding himself. The narc is on his trail though, and further complicating things is not only the culture clash between the police detective and the conservative Amish, but the fact that he and McGillis begin to develop feelings for each other.
Sunday is of course, Easter, and TCM will be spending the morning and afternoon with good old fashioned Easter stories. So if Ben-Hur wasn't enough for you as a Christian story, you could also watch something like Barabbas, at 8:00 AM Sunday. Those of you who remember your Bible stories from Sunday school or are still regular churchgoers will recognize the namr Barabbas as the criminal who was set to be crucified at the same time as Jesus, but whom Pontius Pilate (Arthur Kennedy) got the mob to set free to crucify Jesus in his place. Barabbas (played by Anthony Quinn) perhaps unsurprisingly wonders why his life was spared, and goes on a long sprawling journey that at first certainly doesn't involve hsi becoming Christian in any way. Ultimately, it leads to the gladiatorial arena, where he has to fight top gladiator Jack Palance to try to redeem himself. One other note: the solar eclipse in the movie is the real thing, not a Hollywood special effect.
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