Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" thread, for the week of February 8-14, 2016. We're in the dog days of the sporting year, what with the NFL season ending and not even the Champions League resuming until next week. So why not spend the time you'd otherwise be waiting and use it to watch some good movies? As always, I've used my good taste to select a bunch of movies I'm sure you'll find interesting. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Football players becoming Hollywood actors goes a long way back, even before Marion Morrison became John Wayne. Perhaps the most famous football player qua football player to turn to acting was Jim Brown, who appeared in all sorts of genres, including a western like 100 Rifles, airing on Encore Westerns at 12:15 AM Monday. Here, he plays Lydecker, a policeman who goes to Mexico to look for the bank robber Yaqui Jim (Burt Reynolds). Jim, a mixed-race man, is descended in part from Mexico's native Yaquis, which is why Jim has gone south after committing robbery in America. That and it's the turn of the last century period of revolution in Mexico, and it's believed, especially by provincial governor Verdugo (Fernando Lamas) that Jim robbed the bank to get the money to buy rifles for the Yaqui to help in their uprising. Those titular rifles were purchased for the Yaqui guerrilla leader, Sarita, played by Raquel Welch. There's a lot of action, and a lot of showing off of the lead stars' physical assets, but it's a relatively by-the-numbers western.
With Jeanette MacDonald being a big hit with Nelson Eddy at MGM, and Grace Moore having earned an Oscar nomination at Columbia, RKO decided to bring in an opera singer of their own, Lily Pons. She was cast in stuff like I Dream Too Much, airing at 11:45 AM Monday on TCM. Here, she's paired with Henry Fonda. Fonda plays a composer who one evening winds up with Pons practically in his lap when she tries to get away from her teacher for an evening. They paint the town red and get married, with Fonda pretty quickly comes to regret. But he's got music he's trying to sell, and she's a singer who can put it over for the opera companies. However, it turns out that the opera companies don't want his music; they want her singing, something which of course stings back in the days when the husband was expected to be the breadwinner. The Mrs. then plots secretly to fund a production of one of her husband's operas, since she knows that if he found out she was doing it, he'd be pissed. So you know he's going to find out.
I'm pretty certain I've recommended The Mark before, but if you haven't seen it do yourself a favor and watch it. It's on TCM at 1:15 PM Tuesday. Stuart Whitman stars as Jim, a man who's just been released from a British prison after serving time for attempted child molestation, and is trying to rebuild his life. Obviously, even back in the early 1960s it wasn't easy to do that, but the authorities have found an industrialist who is willing to hire Jim. The only people who know are the industrialist and his secretary Ruth (Maria Schell), a widow with a child about the age of the one Jim tried to molest. With the help of a psychiatrist (Rod Steiger), Jim seems to be doing well and even developing a bit of a relationship with Ruth. But then things all go pear-shaped when a young girl is murdered and the police, examining all the angles, question Jim (who is innocent). Jim's story becomes public, and everything becomes an utter mess for him. Somehow I don't think I film like this could be made today. Whitman was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, but lost, interestingly enough, to Maria Schell's brother Maximilian for his role in Judgment at Nuremberg.
If you recall the horrid Starship song "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" (I won't embed the video), you meay recall it was from the 1987 movie Mannequin. A completely different 1937 movie with the title Mannequin is airing at 1:15 PM Wednesday on TCM. Joan Crawford plays Jessie, a young woman from the slums of Manhattan's Lower East Side who dreams of the better life, and as an attempt to get out of it, impulsively marries her friend Eddie (Alan Curtis), even though he's clearly not right for her. And then on their wedding day, who should run into the couple but John (Spencer Tracy), a man who grew up in the slums but made good and is now a wealthy man. He's immediately smitten with Jessie and wants to marry her. Jessie isn't so sure since she doesn't love him, but she could use the money and is finding out the truth about Eddie. And Eddie wouldn't mind coming up with a way to get at some of John's money too. Of course, something happens that threatens to cost John his business, and we see who Jessie really loves.
A movie showing up on FXM Retro after a long absence is The Pride of St. Louis, at 10:10 AM Thursday. This is the story of Jerome Dean (Dan Dailey), a baseball pitcher from a very rural background who because of his malapropisms and general attitude got the nickname "Dizzy" when he came up with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was quite the pitcher, and was on a trajectory to Hall of Fame induction when he was injured at the All-Star game. (In fact, he did eventually get inducted.) Trying to come back from the injury too soon ruined his career and sent his life spinning out of control. But baseball came back when somebody figured out that with his folksy attitude and his way of getting words wrong, he'd be a natural doing color commentary on the radio, this being the era before TV. So the other team in St. Louis (remember when they had two teams?) brought him in and he became a hit on the radio. Joanne Dru plays Dean's wife, and Richard Crenna his brother Paul, who also became a major league pitcher who was given the nickname "Daffy".
TCM is giving us another airing of The Moon and Sixpence, at 1:30 AM Friday. George Sanders stars as Charles Strickland, a middle-class man living in London at the turn of the last century who has a passion, that being to paint. He's so passionate about it that one day he just gets up and leaves his wife and goes off to Paris to pursue his passion because he has to be true to himself. There he falls ill and is nursed to health by another artist (Steven Geray) and his wife (Doris Dudley), ruining their marriage in the process; meanwhile, Charles' friend from London (Herbert Marshall) tries to get him to come back to London. Eventually, Charles feels he has to go off to the South Seas to be true to his art. This is a loose dramatization of the life of Paul Gauguin, based on a story by Somerset Maugham -- the Herbert Marshall character is based on Maugham.
For those who like more recent movies, you could do worse than to watch Kramer vs. Kramer, airing at 10:00 PM Friday on TCM. Ted Kramer (played by Dustin Hoffman) is a New York adman married to stay-at-home mom Joanna (Meryl Streep) and with a young son Billy (Justin Henry). And then one day Joanna, deciding she's unfulfilled, just gets up and leaves, leaving Dad to try to rebuild his life as a single father, something which isn't always easy because he's always let Mom handle more of the parenting. With the help of Ted and Joanna's neighbor and divorcée friend Margaret (Jane Alexander), Ted does become a fairly competent father. But then just as Ted is forced to take a lower-paying job after being laid off by his old firm, Joanna comes back into his life, saying that she wants custody of the kid -- after all, it wasn't her choice to be a stay-at-home mom. So a custody battle ensues, hurting poor Billy all over again. This won Best Picture, the first of Hoffman's two Oscars, and the first of Streep's three Oscars (it was the second of her 19 nominations).
I can't recall if I've recommended Hang 'Em High before; you can catch it on Encore Westerns at 9:05 AM Friday and again at midnight Saturday (ie. 11:00 PM Friday LFT). Clint Eastwood stars as Jim Cooper, who at the start of the movie is seen driving his cattle. But he's waylaid by a posse who think he rustled those cattle, and they try to hang him. They of course fail, and when Jim is exonerated in a court of law, the judge (Pat Hingle) offers to make Cooper a deputy marshal. Cooper takes it, with the obvious view of wanting to get at the posse that tried to kill him and turn them over to the judge, who is known for wanting to hang pretty much everybody who's guilty. He gets one in town and one turns himself in voluntarily, but the bulk of the gang, led by Ed Begley (Sr), remains at large. They, of course, come to realize that they can't negotiate with him and the only way to remain free from the law is to get rid of Cooper. Rounding out the cast is doomed actress Inger Stevens, playing another of the posse's victims and eventual love interest to Eastwood's character.
Another movie back on FXM Retro is the 1952 film Monkey Business, on Sunday at 1:20 PM. Not to be confused with the Marx Brothers movie of the same title which has a completely different plot, this one stars Cary Grant as Dr. Barnaby Fulton, an absent-minded research biochemist looking into youth potions for his boss' (Charles Coburn) company. He doesn't find it, but one of his chimpanzees does. So when Barnaby sees this, he does some more research that winds up with him taking the potion too, and reverting to a roughly 18-year-old version of himself. When his wife Edwina (Ginger Rogers) sees what he's done, including spending a goodly amount of time on the town with secretary Lois (Marilyn Monroe), Edwina vows to get revenge. So after the potion wears off for Barnaby, Edwina takes some of it herself. Madness ensues. It's a wacky but very enjoyable comedy. It's also definitely a Cary Grant movie, although Marilyn Monroe's presence is used to promote the DVDs nowadays.
Our final selection this week is the original 1954 version of Sabrina, airing at 6:00 PM Sunday on TCM. Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) is the daughter of the chauffeur (John Williams) to a wealthy family living on Long Island. She's had a crush on David (William Holden), the playboy younger brother in the family. David hasn't been that interested in her, but that all changes at a party one night. Meanwhile, David's older brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) has been busy running the family business, and he doesn't notice Sabrina at all. That is, until she goes off to Paris and then returns, and Linus also realized that if David romances Sabrina, it's going to make a mess of the family's plans for him to marry the right woman this time. So Linus has to try to win Sabrina's heart himself. One wonders where a chauffeur's family got the money to buy the garments that Sabrina wears, but then can you imagine Audrey Hepburn looking anything less than glamorous?