Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" thread, for the week of February 23-March 1, 2015. It's hard to believe, but we're in the final full week of 31 Days of Oscar. The actual statuettes are being given away tonight. If you're a fan of comic book movies with orange and teal color palettes and special effects, you're likely to be disappointed. Why not learn from some good movies, back in the days when they didn't have CGI and had to tell stories? All times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
We'll start off this week with Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, at 6:00 PM Monday. Alice (Ellen Burstyn) is a housewife living in New Mexico with her husband who is a truck driver, and young son. It's a sad life for her, since she had dreams of becoming a singer when she grew up in Monterey, CA. It's about to get a whole lot sadder when her husband is suddenly killed in a traffic accident. So Alice decides that with no husband an no other prospects, she's going to try to make it back to Monterey. She doesn't have enough money, though, so she and the kid eventually wind up in Phoenix, where she takes a job at Mel's Diner. With tough but ultimately kind-hearted boss Mel (Vic Tayback) on brassy waitress Flo (Diane Ladd) ,Alice begins to have a bit of a life again. But will that life keep her from following her dreams of becoming a singer? Kris Kristofferson and Harvey Keitel play a couple of Alice's boyfriends.
If you like Stanley Kubrick, you'll probably be pleased to see that Barry Lyndon is showing up on the TCM schedule at 2:30 AM Tuesday. Based on a novel by Thackeray (also writer of Vanity Fair), the story is set in the mid-18th century. Barry Lyndon (Ryan O'Neal), né Redmond Barry, is an Irishman forced to leave Ireland for England, and eventually, joins the British Army to fight in the Seven Years' War. Events conspire to have him wind up on the Prussian side of the war, and after the war, Barry meets Lady Lyndon (Marisa Berenson), married to an elderly member of the peerage. When her husband finally dies, Barry marries her for the title, but winds up squandering much of the family wealth. Needless to say, the stepson isn't pleased about this. The story is not much better than Vanity Fair, and runs over three hours, but at least in this movie we get lovely cinematography and sets (both of these areas of the film won Oscars).
At 8:00 PM Tuesday, TCM is showing A Little Romance. 13-year-old Diane Lane plays an American girl living in Paris with her mom (Sally Kellerman) and stepdad (Arthur Hill). She's a gifted child and doesn't understand her parents, which is the same situation for a French teenager she meets (Thelonius Bernard). The two unsurprisingly fall in the sort of first love that 13-year-olds have, thinking none of the adults will get them. That is, until they meet old Julius (Laurence Olivier). He tells them tales of love, and tells them that if they really want to make their love eternal, they'll have to kiss under the Bridge of Sighs. The thing is, that bridge is in Venice. So Julius takes the two kids and accompanies them on their journey to Venice for that kiss. Broderick Crawford, near the end of his career, has a cameo appearance in this one.
Those of you who enjoy military movies may enjoy Take the High Ground, airing at 10:00 AM Wednesday on TCM. Richard Widmark plays amry Sgt. Ryan, who served in the Korean War and is now back at Fort Bliss, TX where he is a drill instructor in basic training. He's the "bad cop", with Sgt. Holt (Karl Malden) playing the role of the "good cop". The two have different methods, but together they help turn a ragtag bunch of recruits into soldiers, who face every trope of military movies you can think of. There's the wise-ass (Russ Tamblyn); the deserter (Robert Arthur); the guy with no confidence (Jerome Courtland) and the black guy (William Hairston): remember, the military had been integrated just a few years earlier. Elaine Stewart plays the love interest and requisite love-triangle complication.
Can you imagine Clint Eastwood singing? Well, you'll get your chance if you watch Paint Your Wagon, at 8:00 PM Wednesday on Encore Westerns. Eastwood plays "Pardner", a farmer from the midwest who's made his way out to California, which is where he meets Ben Rumson (Lee Marvin). Together they mine for gold. And then, a Mormon auctions off one of his wives (Jean Seberg), with Rumson winning the auction but Pardner falling in love with her. Since they're already partners in business, why not share the wife? The two men continue their business partnership, turning the place into a boomtown when a bunch of French prostitutes show up. Neither Eastwood nor Marvin can sing, but Marvin at least has the good sense to do the style that Rex Harrison used in Doctor Doolittle, as opposed to, say, Peter O'Toole's horrible mess from the musical version of Goodbye, Mr. Chips. (O'Toole, of course, admitted later that he couldn't sing a note.)
Over on FXM Retro, they're running the oddly-titled Decline and Fall... of a Birdwatcher twice, at 1:00 PM Wednesday and 6:00 AM Thursday. Based on a 1920s book by British writer Evelyn Waugh, this movie tells the story of a young man named Paul Pennyfeather (Robin Phillips). He's a student at Oxford at the beginning of the movie, but gets expelled and winds up teaching at a third-rate boarding school. It's there that he meets Margo Beste-Chetwynde (Genevieve Page), falls in love with her, and marries her, although she's got some dark sins in her life for which Paul ultimately takes the fall when he goes to Tangiers to handle her business affairs. The last time I watched this on FXM, it was unfortunately panned and scanned, which is a shame, because this is another of those movies where the set design and the colors are the best thing about the movie.
Paul Newman was nominated for the Best Actor quite a few times before finally winning for The Color of Money. One of the later defeats was for his role in the film Absence of Malice, at 8:00 PM Thursday. Newman plays Mike Gallagher, a man whose father, long since deceased, was in the mob. Gallagher is only a liquor wholesaler, but his uncle is still involved with organized crime. So when a Mob figure is killed, prosecutor Elliot Rosen (Bob Balaban) concludes that the uncle did it and, to get information, leaks to naïve reporter Maggie Carter (Sally Field), that Mike is being investigated, and she runs with the story, which is of course not what's really going on. It leads to tragedy, and Mike has to try to put the pieces of his life back together. Watch for Wilford Brimley, who shows up towards the end to handle the mess that the evil prosecutor has made. This was before he became a famous figure, four years before Cocoon.
Since TCM's 31 Days of Oscar has been structured to go through the years in prime time, the last week or so has me recommending increasingly recent movies. If you'd like a good older movie, you could always try The Window, at 6:00 AM Saturday. Bobby Driscoll plays Tommy, a kid who's constantly making up stories and getting his parents (Brbara Hale and Arthur Kennedy) into trouble because of that. It's the middle of the summer and terribly hot, so he asks to take his mattress out on the fire escape and sleep there to try to get a bit cooler. He climbs up a flight of stairs, looks in the window of the apartment one floor above, and sees -- a murder! So he tells his parents but of course they don't believe him, leading him to run away to the police department to tell them. They take him back to his parents, and when the parents make him apologize to the couple in the apartment above (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman), the two of them, who of course really did commit a murder, discover that they've got a witness they have to deal with.
One of those 60s spy movies shows up on FXM Retro again after a fairly long absence: The Quiller Memorandum, at 11:05 AM Sunday. Quiller, played by George Segal, is a British agent. He's sent to Berlin in order to figure out who is leading a neo-Nazi group that's already killed off a couple of previous British agents who tried to infiltrate the group. When Quiller gets to Berlin, he meets his handler Pol (Alec Guinness), and quickly finds a schoolteacher named Inge (Senta Berger) who may know something about the neo-Nazi group. Of course, Quiller does eventually learn enough to figure out who'e leading the group, a man nicknamed Oktober (Max von Sydow). But, the attempts to bring down Oktober and the group are rather less than successful at first. This isn't one of those James Bond movies with gadgets and an over-the-top feel, but something rather more serious and grim. Much of the film, however, was filmed in Berlin, and it's nice to see the city as it was in the early years after the East Germans (remember them?) put a wall around the western half of the city.
And now for the shorts, and there are a couple of interesting ones this week, none of which are from the MGM series I've been mentioning the past couple weeks. Fist, at 9:49 AM Monday, is Kings of the Turf. This one looks at harness racing, and how a horse is trained for it. Best of all, it's in lovely color. Another color short is Teddy the Rough Rider, at approximately 10:00 AM Tuesday. Warner Bros. put out several Technicolor American history-themed two reelers in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and this one stars Sidney Blackmer as the US President who is admired for his hypermasculinity and basically being a bully Finally, for fans of jazz, you'll enjoy Jammin' the Blues, at 11:48 AM Wednesday. This one has a bunch of black jazz musicians who weren't A-listers like Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, or Duke Ellington, but were just as talented. They do a jam session in studio with a lot of photographic tricks. Not much to it, but better than a lot of the big-band shorts the studios were putting out at the same time.
With a 11:00 A.M. start time I guess see no pre-game thread was started? Where the hell you at E-K-B?
Anyway Bucky cruises to a 63-53 win. Frank with 21 and Bronson chipped in a career high 17.
Badgers now start the toughest 4 games so far this season. At Maryland on Tuesday, Home to Meechigan State on Sunday, at Minny on Thursday March 5th and at OSU on Sunday March 8th. Can they go 3-1 during this stretch?
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