Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" thread, for the week of November 30-December 6, 2015. We're getting into a new month, so it means we're going to have a new Star of the Month on TCM as well as a new spotlight. And with the beginning of a new month, there are also some movies on FXM Retro that haven't shown up in a while. Plus, with the way the Packers' season is going down the tubes, why not blow off steam by watching good movies instead of yelling at otherwise nice posters here on x4? As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
TCM is spending Monday morning and afternoon with Virginia Mayo on the 95th anniversary of her birth. You probably remember her best at James Cagney's girl in White Heat, but that's not airing on Monday. So instead, I'll mention her in Smart Girls Don't Talk, at 7:30 AM Monday. Mayo plays Linda, who used to have money but doesn't any more, and is writing bad checks at one of those illegal gambling places that inhabited Hollywood movies of the 1930s and 40s. It turns out that Marty, the casino owner (Bruce Bennett), takes a liking to her, and since he doesn't want to police involved when the place is held up, he covers her debts and decides to use her, specifically having one of his underlings use her car in a murder! Her brother, a young doctor (Robert Hutton) doesn't like that she's hanging aroiund with these gangsters, but he has a yen for the casino's singer and when Marty takes a bullet, Doc gets mixed up in having to take care of Marty too.
Monday night sees the great Indian film director Satyajit Ray on TCM. Ray is probably best known for the "Apu Trilogy", and all three movies in that trilogy are on the schedule Monday night. I've mentioned Pather Panchali before; that kicks the night off and has Apu as a young boy. Apu goes off to school in Aparajito at 10:30 PM, and then gets married in Apur Sansar at 12:30 AM. Finally, at 2:30 AM, you get to see a documentary on Ray.
Tuesday is the first day of a new month, which means we get some movies on FXM Retro that haven't shown up in a while. One of them is Swamp Water, at 8:25 AM Tuesday and 6:00 AM Wednesday. Dana Andrews plays Ben, a young man whose dog goes missing in the great swamp while Ben is part of a group looking for an escaped murderer. Nobody wants to go into the swamp alone because it's so dangerous, but Ben does, and when he gets deep enough into the swamp, he finds Tom (Walter Brennan). Tom is the man they were all looking for, but the story Tom tells Ben convinces Ben that Tom is in fact innocent. Meanwhile, back on dry land, Tom has a daughter Julie (Anne Baxter) and when Ben starts selling the furs he and Tom have trapped in the swamp with Julie, he begins to fall in love with her. Meanwhile, the justice system still wants Tom, and Ben is trying to figure out who really committed the murder Tom stands accused of.
A little later on Tuesday morning we have The Flirting Widow, at 8:15 AM Tuesday. Dorothy Mackail plays the title character, who actually isn't a real widow. She's the elder sister Celia in a family where there sisters are supposed to marry in age order. She's not married, but the younger sister Evelyn (Leila Hyams) wants to marry, so Celia creates a fake fiancé (not named George Glass but John Smith) and then creates a fake obituary for the guy. But the fake letter she wrote actually gets sent to a real John Smith in the same situation as the fake fiancé but very much alive. So when he gets the letter he (played by Basil Rathbone) shows up at the family house even though he's supposed to be very much dead. So he claims to be the dead man's friend and all sorts of complications ensue. If you like those drawing-room comedies of the early sound period then this one is for you.
On Tuesday night we have four films in the Ma and Pa Kettle series, starting with the first at 8:00 PM. Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride star as the titular characters, who had appeared a year earlier in The Egg and I as supporting characters and were so popular that Universal decided to put them in their own series. (Main was Oscar-nominated for The Egg and I.) Fifteen years before The Beverly Hillbillies, the Kettles were the original rural family living in humorously shocking conditions that the smart movie-going cityfolk might look down upon, but people who also had more wisdom than those alleged sophisticates. In this one, Pa Kettle enters a tobacco company's new slogan contest hoping to win a tobacco pouch, but instead winning the grand prize, an automatic push-button house. Obviously, the Kettles' attempts to navigate their way through this house provide much of the humor. But there's also a subplot involving their college son Tom (Richard Long), who has fallen in love with a college girl would-be journalist Kim (Meg Randall). She's horrified by the Kettles' lifestyle, and wants to write an exposé on the right sort of life for America's children, which isn't the Kettles'. Those movies will be followed by four from the Five Little Peppers series, starting with the first one at 2:00 AM Wednesday. The family has five children living with their mother after dad dies; Dad had an interest in a mine and the guy who owns the rest of it wants to swindle them out of his interest. But his grandson meets the eldest Pepper kid, likes them, and then Grandpa meets them too and has a change of heart.
Wednesday nights on TCM in December are given over to the new Star of the Month: Frank Sinatra, in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday later this month. He made enough movies that the films continue into Thursday mornings, as with Assault on a Queen, at 10:00 AM Thursday. Heist movies often have ridiculous plots, and this one might be even more ridiculous than a lot of the others. Sinatra plays Mark, a diver hired by former U-boat captain Eric (Alf Kjellin) who is into searching for sunken treasure. What they find instead of treasure is a sunken U-boat, which gives them the idea to salvage that, make it seaworthy, and then use it to rob the luxury cruise liner the Queen Mary! Oh boy is that daft! Virna Lisi plays Rosa, the Italian woman financing the scheme, and she and Mark fall for each other, except that she has a boyfriend Vic (Anthony Franciosa) who obviously isn't happy with this. And then there's Tony (Richard Conte), the man tasked with making the U-boat seaworthy.
If you want to watch Warner Bros. use all its stars for comic effect, you could do worse than Thank Your Lucky Stars, airing at 1:45 PM Thursday on TCM. It's the middle of World War II, and producers S.Z. Sakall and Edward Everett Horton want to put on a big show for the troops. However, they want singer Dinah Shore who happens to be under contract to Eddie Cantor (both unsurprisingly playing themselves) who balks. Meanwhile, at the studio there's a tour bus driver named Joe Simpson who looks amazingly like Eddie Cantor, which is probably because he's played by Cantor too who is doing two roles. So the producers think using him in Cantor's place might not be a bad idea. Among all this is a subplot about upcoming hopeful singer Tommy (Dennis Morgan) and his songwriting girlfriend Pat (Joan Leslie) trying to get their big break in entertainment. That, and all the stars who try to sing or otherwise lampoon their screen personas.
Now that we're in December, it meand Christmas is coming, and with that, Christmas movies. TCM is in on this, showing Christmas movies on Friday nights this month. This Friday brings a bunch that I've already recommended before, but I'll mention All Mine to Give at 2:30 AM Saturday again, since it's set in Wisconsin. It's got a story that's sadder than the current Packers season. Cameron Mitchell and Glynis Johns play a married couple who emigrate from Scotland to Wisconsin in the early days of statehood, clear a plot of land, build a cabin, and raise a family with six children. But then Mom dies which is bad enough. To make matters worse, however, Dad dies, leaving the children orphans with the oldest being maybe 14. The gossipy biddies who have always talked about the family want to take the children and put them in an orphanage, but the eldest doesn't want to hurt the family like that so he sets out to find good homes for each of his siblings, as Christmas approaches.
I know I've recommended at least one of the Lassie movies before, but I don't know if that one was Courage of Lassie, which you can catch on TCM at 6:00 PM Saturday. Lassie plays Bill, a male collie who escapes, only to be found by Elizabeth Taylor who is able to save the dog from being killed by hunters. So she takes the dog and nurses it back to health, only for World War II to intervene and the dog to be drafted as a service dog! Well, Lassie does a good job in the service but he has a problem that many of the human servicemen face: he develops doggie PTSD! He's returned home to little Elizabeth and her family, but can she nurse him back to health a second time? Oh, for heaven's sake, this is a Lassie movie. Who the hell thinks it's going to have an unhappy ending? But Lassie was a good actress, and there's a lot of pretty scenery.
If you want something more recent, you can always catch the original Teen Wolf, which is airing multiple times this week, including 12:30 PM and 10:00 PM Sunday on Encore Family. Michael J. Fox stars as Scott, an adolescent going through the same problems all of us went through in high school to a greater r lesser extent: he wants to fit in and be popular, but he can't get the good-looking girl to notice him (even though he's got another girl who does like him) and he's a bench-warmer on the school's crappy basketball team. If that weren't bad enough, he begins to notice strange changes when he gets angry that clearly aren't your typical puberty. It turns out that his family has a history of lycanthropy, and when Scot gets angry he turns into a werewolf! But -- it makes him better at basketball, enabling his team to go on a run, and it makes him more popular. However, will that cost Scott all of his old friends? This was a surprise hit, to the point that it was turned into a failed TV series and they made a sequel.
I could have placed this in any number of threads but F it. This warrants its own.
We can justifiably talk about play calling, tired scheme/formations, and poor play by this current WR corp and even AR. From coaches to players, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Now it's time to call out one gaping, gigantic hole that hasn't come close to being replaced. A real TE since the loss of Finley. For a coach in MM who claims to love the TE position (recall a number of seasons GB kept 4-5 TE's) and actually ran ALL TE formations, this supposed key to MM's offense has been woefully addressed.
This is 2009 JerMichael Finley. I think it's important we all watch this. I had not only forgotten how good his hands were, he was also incredibly fast. At 6'5 he almost won every single jump ball as well. This is a complete failure on TT to ignore this position for as long as he has. Richard Rodgers, Andrew Quarless, Justin Perillo. There might not be a worse trio of TE''s in the NFL. Yes Rodgers misses Jordy. We all know that. But there is another huge hole in this offense. And it's a player like this:
Everyone outside of Packer HQs who has watched this team over the last month and a half knows that it's a stale, broken team. The million dollar question is who is going to step up and make some changes. Let's look at the key players:
MM: He's a good man and a hardworking coach. But he's loyal to a fault and not the sharpest tool in the shed. It took an epic special teams meltdown before he finally did what everyone knew was necessary years ago - fire Slocum. And then he made an uninspired hiring of Zook when other better candidates were available. He's stuck with Capers despite meltdown after meltdown on the defensive side of the ball. He inexplicably stepped away from the one part of this team that was elite and handed duties off to guys over their heads. He's been extremely successful in the past decade, but it's very telling that despite his success, the league doesn't appear to value his assistant coaches at all. Only one has been hired as a head coach, and he may never work in the league again. To this day, he's insisting all is well with the Packers. Short answer, he's not going to make any changes on his own.
TT: Another good man and hard worker who made the brave and outstanding decision to draft Rodgers and then stick with him over a wishy washy Favre. But he hates the spotlight and is notorious for just trusting the system. Values draft picks more than anything. Rarely dips his toes into free agency even though it's worked wonderfully for them when he has (Woodson, Peppers). His system of draft, develop, resign your own has proven successful, but it's become his entire mantra. One of the reasons he and MM work so well together is they stay out of each other's business. Rest assured he's not pressing the panic button and doing anything out of the norm. Probably reacts to this latest loss by attending a D II football game in North Texas to scout.
Mark Murphy: No idea what this guy does. Last night was probably the moment he's been working for the past five years. What he does now is anyone's guess. Probably working on identifying an Applebee's to honor Longwell's return to Green Bay or thinking about how to honor Woodson when he retires. Has played zero role in the success of this franchise and will most certainly defer to TT and MMs wishes.
So who does that leave to bring about the needed changes? Either one of those guys will need to surprise us, or Aaron Rodgers makes some noise.
It's interesting that during all the nostalgia at halftime yesterday, the guy who I kept looking at was Ron Wolf. I miss that guy, and this franchise needs it's Ron Wolf right now. He always had the biggest balls in the building. Unafraid to acquire guys like Robinson or Jackson knowing how important they would be for a title team. Unwilling to watch injuries decimate a team and getting a guy like Rison when there were no weapons. Able to tell his handpicked coach to STFU when he was complaining about his salary and responsibilities. And always shrewd to pull off a trade, like when he robbed Ahman Green from Seattle.
This franchise needs Ron Wolf right now. I truly hope someone plays that role, and soon. Because as great this run has been for the last 20+ years, it will be very disappointing if one of the best QBs to ever play the game only gets to one Super Bowl.
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