Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” Thread, for the week of February 19-25, 2018. The days are getting longer, but there's still a good amount of winter left, so why not stay inside and enjoy some good movies? Once again I've used my good taste to select a bunch of movies that I know you'll all find insteresting. There's the Oscar-nominated stuff on TCM, and other stuff on the other channels too. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
We'll start off this week with an all-star movie: The VIPs, on TCM at 10:00 PM Monday. The title refers to the VIP lounge at Heathrow Airport, and the passengers who get stuck there one night as the airport gets fogged in and the transatlantic flight they were supposed to board cannot take off. Of course, all of the passengers have backstories, without which we wouldn't have a movie…. Frances (Liz Taylor) is married to Paul (Richard Burton), but she's leaving him to go off with playboy Marc (Louis Jourdan) and has even left Paul a letter that he was only going to get after the plane was scheduled to take off. Les is an Australian businessman (played by Aussie-born Rod Taylor who actually gets to play an Aussie for once) needs to get to New York because people are trying to take over his company and he has to get there for the board meeting and needs £150,000 to cover a check. His secretary Miss Mead (Maggie Smith) is in love with him, but he doesn't realize it. The Duchess (Margaret Rutherford, who won an Oscar for this) is going to Florida to take a job there so she can put her estate in the UK on display for tourists and make the money to pay the upkeep, and movie producer Max (Orson Welles) needs to get out of Britain because of tax rules and how many days in a year he can spend in the country. Of course, the four plots intertwine what with everybody stuck together, and then with Paul finding the letter Frances left for him.
I'm not quite certain I'd consider it a western, but StarzEncore Westerns is running The Shepherd of the Hills, at 4:36 AM Monday. John Wayne plays Matt Matthews, a moonshiner in the Ozarks. Matt lives with his aunt Mollie (Beulah Bondi) and uncle Matt (James Barton), because his father abandoned the family as a young man. For that, Matt has always hated the father he doesn't remember and vows that if he ever were to meet his father, he'd kill the man. And as a result of that hatred, there's a lot of other hatred going around the family. There's mute dimwit Pete, and blind Granny Becky (Marjorie Main) who, in true Hollywood fashion, can see more than all the sighted people. Anyhow, into all of this comes the mysterious stranger Dan (Harry Carey), who begins to have a positive change on all of the people in the area, except that it turns out he's got a secret of his own that you can probably figure out a mile away. This is based on a popular novel from the beginning of the last century, and there's even a homestead/theater putting on a version every summer in Branson, MO.
It's been a long time since I've recommended Come and Get It. You can catch it at 6:00 AM on Tuesday. One of the not many Hollywood movies set in Wisconsin, this one stars Edward Arnold as Barney Glasgow, a forestry man who eventually becomes one of the richest men in Wisconsin, marrying for status, while the true love of his life, saloon girl Lotta (Frances Farmer) marries Barney's best friend Swan (Walter Brennan). Fast forward 20-some years. Barney has an adult son in Richard (Joel McCrea) who has radically different business ideas from Dad and a daughter with a boyfriend who also has business ideas for the paper industry. But Barney meets Swan again. By now Lotta has died, but she and Swan had a daughter, also named Lotta who looks amazingly like her mom, which shouldn't be surprising since young Lotta is also played by Farmer. Barney falls in love with young Lotta, and all sorts of complications ensue.
It's been a while since The Mudlark has been on FXM Retro, but it's on again this week, at 10:00 AM Tuesday. Set in Victorian England, the movie tells the story of a “mudlark”, one of the young orphans who scavenges a living quite literally, by going through junk in the tidal flats along the Thames. Wheeler (Andrew May) is the titular mudlark, who in his scavenging finds a small engraving of Queen Victoria which he considers beautiful. When he's told that Victoria is the “mother of all England”, Wheeler sets off to find her. Of course, this means getting past Buckingham Palace security led by Mr. Brown (Finlay Currie), and there would be scandal if Wheeler's breaking in ever became public. However, Victoria (Irene Dunne) has been out of the public eye for a dozen years following the death of Prince Albert, and Prime Minister Disraeli (Alec Guinness) sees this human interest story as a perfect opportunity to get Victoria back into public.
I've probably recommended Min and Bill too often, but it's such a good movie that I can't help but recommend it again. It's on TCM at 7:45 AM Wednesday. Min (played by Marie Dressler, who got a well-deserved Oscar for her performance) runs a rooming house down at the harbor where she caters to all the fishermen and other types who spend a lot of time out to see. Bill (Wallace Beery) would say Min, you're a fine girl, what a good wife you'd be, but instead the two just have a love-hate relationship. Min, meanwhile, has been foster mother to young Nancy (Dorothy Jordan), ever since Nancy's floozy of a mother walked out on Nancy to go to greener pastures leaving Min to take care of the child. Eventually Min lets the local school superintendent have guardianship, resulting in Nancy going to a good school and getting a boyfriend. Nancy returns to tell Min of her engagement, but by this time Nancy's real mother Bella (Marjorie Rambeau) has returned. Min desperately wants Bella not to spoil Nancy's happiness, and just knows that if Bella finds out about Nancy's wedding that's what's going to happen. Tragedy ensues.
There was a time when Sean Penn was Mr. Madonna. Heck, there was a time before Sean Penn was Mr. Madonna, when he made movies like Bad Boys, which StarzEncore Classics is running at 3:30 AM Thursday. Penn plays Mick, a teenaged delinquent who's constantly getting into all sorts of trouble with the law. This time he's gone too far, stealing a car during a robbery and accidentally hitting and killing a kid. However, since he's still too young to be tried as an adult, he's sent to reform school. The problem is, the kid's older brother Paco (Esai Morales) and Mick have already had their issues, with the incident that killed Paco's kid brother being in part because of Paco's treatment of Mick's girlfriend J.C. (Ally Sheedy). Of course, with a dead brother, Paco is now steaming mad, and he takes out his anger on Mick by raping J.C.! This gets Paco sent to reform school too, and as you can guess he gets sent to the same one Mick is already in. The state doesn't care what happens to any of these people.
Let's put on a show! This became a popular plot of Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies, starting with Babes in Arms, which will be on TCM at 6:15 PM Thursday. Mickey and Judy play Mickey Moran and Patsy Barton, children of retired vaudevilleans now living out on Long Island. Mickey is growing into a talented songwriter, using singer Patsy to put over “Good Morning” on a publisher. However, his parents are finding it hard to get work, and are going to have to go back on the road with the other old vaudevilleans in an attempt to earn enough money to save their homes. Worse, local busybody Martha Steele (Margaret Hamilton) wants to evict the performers and make the kids wards of the state! Mickey and Judy get the idea of taking all the kids and making them the stars, putting on a big show. Problems ensue, however, when talented Rosalie (June Preisser) shows up and expects to be the star. If you like Mickey and Judy, you'll like this. There's a bizarre blackface number, and a hilarious scene that has Mickey and Judy playing Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
I'm not certain if I've recommended the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers before. You'll be able to catch it at 1:22 PM Friday on StarzEncore Suspense. This time, the action is moved from a small California town to San Francisco. Donald Sutherland plays Matt Bennell, an employee of the Public Health Service who hears a complaint from his friend Elizabeth (Brooke Adams) that her husband is acting strangely. Things like this happen, except that Matt starts hearing from other acquaintances that their loved ones are acting strangely, and in the same strange way. Things become more alarming when another couple (Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright) find an inchoate corpse. They figure, apparently having seen the 1956 movie, that some alien force is taking over humans and replacing them with emotionless doppelgängers. Can Matt stop the aliens in time? And will he be able to figure out whom to trust and who has already been replaced? Leonard Nimoy plays a psychiatrist. Star of the 1956 version Kevin McCarthy has a cameo, as does Don Siegel (playing a taxi driver), director of the original.
Hollywood has been doing remakes since the earliest days. Some of the remakes are true classics, such as the 1941 version of The Maltese Falcon, which TCM is showing at 10:00 AM Sunday. Humphrey Bogart plays San Francisco private eye Sam Spade, who is approached by the mysterious Miss Wonderly (Mary Astor), who claims her brother is in danger. Apparently, it's Spade and his partner Archer who are in danger, as Archer gets bumped off, and Spade learns that “Miss Wonderly” is actually Brigid O'Shaughnessy. Other strange characters visit having learned about Brigid's presence, and Spade finds out that all of them are looking for the Maltese Falcon, a legendary bejeweled statuette which is alleged to be coming to San Francisco aboard one of the cargo ships from Asia. And everybody is out to get that statue for themselves, even if it has to mean killing people. Of course, the police don't take kindly to murder. Sydney Greenstreet plays Kasper Gutman; Peter Lorre the obviously gay even if they couldn't say it Joel Cairo; and Elisha Cook plays Gutman's gunsel (originally not a term for gunman) Wilmer Cook.