Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" thread, for the week of March 10-16, 2014. This week sees the announcement of the brackets for the NCAA basketball tournament, in which you all find out which teams Wisconsin and Iowa are going to lose to in the round of 32. While waiting to find that out, why not relax with some good movies? There's more Mary Astor, more Carson on TCM, and more movies with food scenes. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Ruth Roman's birthday was in November, but TCM is honoring her on Monday with a norning and afternoon of her movies. You probably remember her best from Strangers on a Train (airing at 4:00 PM), but I'm going to recommend the previous movie on the schedule instead: Lightning Strikes Twice, at 2:15 PM. Roman plays an actress trying to take a break in the middle of nowhere, which in this case is supposed to be a dude ranch somewhere in West Texas. But before all that happens, we meet Richard Todd, playing a man accused of killing his wife. He was found guilty in the first trial, but gets a retrial and, in the second, juror Mercedes McCambridge convices the other jurors there was reasonable doubt. Roman meets Todd, now trying to fade into obscurity, on the way to the ranch, which just happens to be run by McCambridge! Does she have ulterior motives? What's up with her brother (Darryl Hickman)? And why doesn't Zachary Scott show up before the movie is an hour over? An interesting idea, but it's a muddled mess at times.
Darryl Hickmen shows up again in Jackass Mail, which is on TCM at 2:30 PM Tuesday. Wallace Beery is an old west outlaw who gets out of a hanging courtesy of bartender friend J. Carrol Naish, winding up in a town more or less run by Marjorie Main (later Ma Kettle). She's one tough lady, what with delivering the mail by donkey and having to keep Beery in line too. Hickman comes into the plot when Beery intends to engage in another hold-up, but instead winds up shooting a bandit in another gang that's trying to hold up Main. (Of course, he'd really rather rob Main himself, but that's another story.) The guy he killed was the father of the Darryl Hickman character, so now he also winds up as a sort of foster father to Hickman. In real life, Beery apparently hated kids, but he was a capable enough actor that he could hide this, and the public liked all those movies with him and a child star, so MGM kept putting him into such films.
Carson on TCM returns on TCM on Tuesday night with another six interviews: Bob Hope from 1978; Bing Crosby from 1976; Tony Randall from 1974; Truman Capote from 1972; Gregory Peck from 1976 (presumably in conjunction with the release of The Omen); and Lauren Bacall from 1980.
The last of those interviews being with Lauren Bacall, the rest of the evening is given over to a night of her movies, including Harper, at 1:15 AM Wednesday. Harper is a private eye, played by Paul Newman, who gets a call from Bacall's character. She's a wealthy woman with a husband and teenage daughter (Pamela Tiffin), and the husband has gone missing, so on the advice of her lawyer (Arthur Hill), she's called Harper. It turns out that the husband has been kidnapped, since they get a ransom demand for half a million dollars. It also turns out that the husband was also leading a double life, and that second life is something everybody involved in it doesn't want Harper to find out about. Complicating matters is that the lawyer is in love with the family daughter, and Harper's own marriage (to Janet Leigh) is breaking up.
Meanwhile, back to Monday, FXM/the Fox Movie Channel is running a movie that I don't think they've shown in quite a few years: The House on Telegraph Hill, at 9:15 AM. Valentina Cortese stars as Viktoria, a woman who survived the concnetration camp at Bergen-Belsen, although her friend Karin didn't. Karin had sent an infant son to America to escape the war, so Viktoria takes on Karin's identity to get to America. There, she discovers that Karin had an Aunt Sophie who was taking care of the child and was very wealthy -- but she just recently died. So the boy is now being looked after by Alan (Richard Basehart) and a nanny. Viktoria falls in love with Alan and eventually marries him, but then finds out that there's something not quite right about what's going on in the titular house in San Francisco where they're living -- it seems somebody's trying to kill the kid to get at his inheritance!
William Powell is being honored on TCM on March 12, even though his birthday is in July. This salute includes mostly lesser Powell movies, such as The Girl Who Had Everything, at 6:45 PM Wednesday. Powell is billed third here, playing an alcoholic lawyer who seems to care more about the checks coming in than about ethics, since his best client is a gangster (Fernando Lamas). He's also got an adult daughter (Elizabeth Taylor), and although she's got a boyfriend (Gig Young), she winds up falling for the gangster, something that doesn't sit well with either Dad or the boyfriend. If all of this sounds familiar, it should, since it's a remake of A Free Soul, which is much better. This reamke is the sort of shortish second feature with a social message MGM was making in the early 1950s to help pay for all those big-budget color musicals.
Following The Girl Who Had Everything, Mary Astor returns for a second night in her turn as TCM's Star of the Month. Once again, her movies continue into Thursday morning, with stuff such as The Lash, at 8:00 AM Thursday. Richard Barthelmess stars as Pancho, a cattleman in Mexican California in the mid-1840s, which is about the time Mexico is about to lose control of the region for good. One of the effects of the influx of Americans into California is that you've got a bunch of unscrupulous people trying to grab the Mexicans' land, along with general abuse to the Mexicans. When Pancho suffers such abuse on a cattle drive, he lets the cattle stampede and then changes his identity to "El Puma", hellbent on righting all the perceived wrongs that the Americans have committed. As for Mary Astor, she plays Pancho's Mexican sweetheart, Doña Rosita.
There's another person being honored with a daytime programming lineup, even though it's not her birthday: Gina Lollobrigida, who was born in July 1927, and is still alive as I write this. She's getting several movies on Friday morning and afternoon, including Hotel Paradiso at 12:15 PM. Alec Guinness plays an architect in Paris circa 1900 in an unhappy marriage; his colleague Robert Morley is married to Gina Lollobrigida. Morley is called off on an emergency inspection while Guinness' wife (Peggy Mount) has to go see a sick relative, so Guinness and Lollobrigida go off to the Hotel Paradiso to have a fling. Sure enough, Morley and Mount wind up at the Hotel Paradiso. Complications ensue, one of which is a writer observing all of the shenanigans which he decides to turn into a play. Watch for veteran character actor Akim Tamiroff as the owner of the hotel.
Anthony Bourdain returns on Friday night to present another night of movies about food or with memorable food scenes. This week includes a movie you'll either love immensely or hate immensely: My Dinner with Andre, at midnight Saturday (or 11:00 PM Friday LFT). Wallace Shawn plays Wally, an actor/playwright who gets a call from old friend Andre (Andre Gregory). Andre used to be a theatre director, but left to... well, he'll tell you about that later. Andre invites Wally to dinner at a fine restaurant, and when the two meet, Andre begins to tell him about what all happened. Andre talks, and talks, and talks, going on about how he became a bohemian, taking in experiences all over the world that really sound more like tall tales. And that's pretty much all Andre does, talking and barely letting Wally get word in edgewise. You may want to tell him to shut up. In fact, the movie is pretty much just Andre's conversation with Wally, with no real plot. It's a highly unorthodox technique the produces a sharp dichotomy of opinions, but a movie that probably deserves to be seen once.
If you want B-grade horror, watch The Horror of It All, Saturday at 7:30 AM. Pat Boone (yes, the singer) stars as an American in the UK who's picked up a fiancée (Erica Rogers) along the way without meeting her family. In going to meet them, he gets lost along the way but winds up at what looks like an old abandoned castle, which just happens to be where his fiancée and the rest of the family of cousins and uncles lives. The only thing is, the fiancée is the only normal one in the family. The castle doesn't have electric, there's only one bus a week out, what with Boone's car in a ravine, and familiy members are beginning to drop like flies, with it looking as though they might have been murdered! It's an interesting enough premise, but the movie never decides whether it wants to be real horror or comedy riffing on horror. It doesn't help that Pat Boone should have stuck to singing.
I mentioned Ruth Roman at the beginning of the thread. She's going to show up one more time other than Monday, which is as part of TCM Underground, in The Baby, at 3:45 AM Sunday. Roman plays a mother who draws the interest of social worker Anjanette Comer because she has a baby. Well, it's not a baby, but Baby (David Manzy), a ~21-year-old son who is being kept in the mental state of a six-month old! Really! He's in diapers, can't talk, and sleeps in a crib! And to make things creepier, in addition to Mom taking care of Baby, she's also got two adult daughters who are helping her take care of their brother and keeping him in this infantile state. But why? And why does the social worker get so obsessed with the Baby? This is one bizarre, f***ed-up movie.
My salad was good. They burned the son's sweet potato fries but he liked the shrimp.
Wow, that traffic between Dallas and San Antonio is awful, to put it mildly. I did something with my middle finger I've only done once before in reference to another's driving. Some guy was driving a pickup full of empty cardboard boxes and styrofoam that was NOT tied down or constrained in any way. Mayhem. One of the boxes hit us square on the hood of our rental before we could pass him.
Apparently Smashburger is the winner over Whataburger.
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