Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” thread, for the week of October 23-29, 2017. The days are rapidly growing shorter, and with more darkness there's a good reason to spend more time indoors. Why not spend some of that time with some good movies? Once again there's more from Star of the Month Anthony Perkins, as well as some horror movies and a bunch of other interesting stuff. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned, which is important because there's a midnight start this week.
You've probably heard of the Walter Reed Army hospital. Walter Reed was an army doctor whose story is told in part in Yellow Jack, which will be on TCM at 8:45 AM Monday. Lewis Stone plays Reed, who is in Cuba with the US Army after the Spanish-American War. Yellow fever, nicknamed “yellow jack”, has been killing soldiers by the bunches, and it's clear that something needs to be done to figure out how to deal with the disease. After all, the disease affects Panama too, and that's where the US wants to build a canal (remember the era the movie is set, just before the canal was in fact built). Eventually, Reed comes to the conclusion that yellow fever is a mosquito-borne illness, but how to prove it? Well, you're going to have to subject some people to mosquito bites and keep others safe and see what happens. Robert Montgomery plays Irish-American soldier O'Hara, who volunteers for the experiment. Virginia Bruce plays a nurse who is also O'Hara's love interest, and a plethora of character actors are in support.
Despite the title, our next movie is not about everybody's favorite free-range a-hole out west: Henry Goes Arizona, which will be on TCM at 7:15 AM Tuesday. Henry (Frank Morgan the same year he was in The Wizard of Oz) is a struggling actor in New York who can't even pay the rent. But he's about to get a new home when he hears that his step-brother has died out in Arizona and bequeathed him his ranch in Tonto City. Henry goes out to Arizona, which is where he learns that his step-brother was actually murdered. Unsurprisingly, Henry isn't certain he wants to stay since he figures he could be next, especially since it seems there are people out there who want the ranch. But Henry's brother had a niece Molly (Virginia Weidler) who wants Henry to stay since she doesn't have anybody else in the world to be with. Henry stays and decides to figure out what really happened. But that could bring danger to Molly too. Guy Kibbee plays the local judge.
If you want to see a different career turn from Richard Widmark, you could do worse than to watch My Pal Gus, which will be on FXM Retro at 3:30 AM Tuesday. Here, he plays Dave Jennings, a successful businessman who is raising a son Gus (George “Foghorn” Winslow) all by himself. That's because his wife Joyce (Audrey Totter) abandoned her husband and child years ago. And Dave is getting to the point where he's not certain what to do with Gus. He's given Gus everything a boy could want, but that's served to make Gus a spoiled brat. So Dave enrolls Guss in a special school with teacher Lydia (Joanne Dru). Gus takes to Lydia, and with somebody who looks like her, why wouldn't Dad take to her too? Ah, but there's still the specter of Joyce in the background, and sure enough, she shows up looking for more money from Dave. Dave decides to take her to court, even though this could result in his losing custody of Gus.
TCM's Thursday morning lineup has a bunch of movies set in early 20th century Russia. One that I don't think I've recommended before is Strike, which will be on at 7:30 AM Thursday. This is the first feature film directed by Sergei Eisenstein, who is best known for Battleship Potemkin (which follows at 9:00 AM). As you can guess from the title and the period the movie was made, this one is about a factory where the workers are dissatisfied with their working conditions. Similarly unsurprisingly, it's the Tsarist-era bosses who have their enforcers in the state at the ready to put down any unrest amongst the workers who are presented as almost cartoonish bad guys while those poor put-upon workers are heroic. The film goes through all the stages of the strike, with Eisenstein showing an early mastery of the film techniques he'd use in later masterpieces.
A search of the site suggests that I haven't recommended The Last Command before. It's going to be on StarzEncore Westerns at 5:35 AM Wednesday. It's one with a familiar story. Jim Bowie (played here by Sterling Hayden) is a Texan who has largely gotten on well with the Mexicans, being married to the daughter of a local commander. But Santa Ana (J. Carroll Naish) has been in power to the point that it's corrupted him, and a lot of the Anglos in Texas would like to be rid of him and have their own country in Texas. (They also didn't like the fact that Mexico didn't allow slavery and they wanted to import their slaves, but that's another story.) Bowie clashes with the Americans over the best way to deal with Santa Ana, even though he understands their desire for independence since Santa Ana won't give them autonomy. It all results in the famous last stand at the Alamo, with Bowie and Lt. Travis (Richard Carlson) leading the Texans. Ernest Borgnine has a supporting role as a rival to Bowie even though it's tough to imagine him as a pioneer in Texas.
Soylent Green was made long enough ago that we're getting close to the time in which the movie was set (2022). TCM is running Soylent Green at 4:30 AM Friday, so you can see for yourself how accurate they got the future. Charlton Heston plays Detective Thorn living in a ridiculously overcrowded New York where the only food available is a plankton-based slurry produced by the Soylent corporation. Their newest formulation, Soylent Green, is the best and most nutritious product they've ever produced. One night an older executive of the company named Simonson (Joseph Cotten) is murdered in what seems like a meticulously planned crime: after all, Simonson had a bodyguard (Rifleman Chuck Connors) who should have prevented it. Thorn investigates with clerical help from his partner Roth (Edward G. Robinson in his final film; he died before the release), and finds that Simonson was murdered because there's some sort of corruption going on and Simonson couldn't stomach it any longer. But what are the shenanigans going on? Well, you probably know the famous ending by now.
Anthony Perkins shows up on TCM on Friday night for one final night of his movies. One that doesn't show up so often is Pretty Poison, which will be on at 10:15 PM. Perkins plays Dennis, a man who's just gotten released from a mental institution after committing a serious arson, and is trying to reintegrate into normal society, working at a factory in some northeastern mill town. However, things are still difficult for him as he has serious issues separating reality from fantasy. And then Dennis meets high school student Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld). She knows that her mother (Beverly Garland) wouldn't approve of the relationship, so she's willing to go along with Dennis' fantasy about being a CIA agent. Or perhaps she truly believes it. The two carry on an illicit relationship, until it turns out that Sue Ann has some shocking ideas of her own. Pretty Poison is a twisted, disturbing little movie with a great performance by Perkins and Weld matching him.
We've got a couple of remakes this week. First up is the 1982 version of Cat People, which will be on StarzEncore Classics at 9:00 PM Saturday. This one actually only takes the basic story from the 1942 classic and runs in another direction with it. Irena (Nastassja Kinski) is a young European woman who is looking for her long-lost brother Paul (Malcolm McDowell) in New Orleans. It turns out that the two of them have a family secret of which she isn't yet aware, which since you know the original movie you know the secret has to deal with turning into a cat. But in another big difference from the original, the reason why they turn into cats is different. And it's a reason that allows for copious amounts of sex, nudity, and violence; that's also quite a departure from the original, in which the director allowed the viewers to form the horror in their own minds. John Heard plays Oliver, the poor schlub who gets to marry Irena.
I'm sure you all remember the classic Peter Lorre German film M. But M was remade in Hollywood in the early 1950s, and TCM is showing that 1951 version at midnight Sunday (ie. 11:00 PM Saturday LFT). David Wayne plays Martin, taking the Peter Lorre role. This time, the action is moved from Berlin to the working class Bunker Hill neighborhood of Los Angeles that no longer exists as it was seen in a whole host of noir movies in the 1940s and 1950s. The story remains largely the same, though, of a mysterious man preying on little children, and the resulting police (led by Howard da Silva and Steve Brodie) search putting a serious crimp on the traditional underworld. So the underworld leaders decide that they're going to have to find the murderer themselves in order to get the police off their backs. They eventually find the killer (Wayne), and start the proceeding to subject him to their own justice, which might even be worse than anything the police could do to him. If it weren't a remake it could stand on its own as a very good movie, although the Production Code wouldn't have allowed it to be made if it hadn't been a close remake of the German original.
Finally, we'll mention this week's Noir Alley movie, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. In the late 1920s, young Martha Ivers wants to run away from Iverstown, with help from young Sam, to get away from her domineering aunt (Judith Anderson). Walter, the son of Martha's tutor, is a goody-goody who likes Martha. Obviously, the aunt finds all this out and, before Martha can run off, the two women and Walter get in a scuffle that accidentally kills the aunt, Sam running out of the house. Walter, his father, and Martha, make up a story to the police. Fast forward to just after the end of World War II. Sam is coming back from Europe, and just happens to drive through Iverstown on his way back; this is his first visit. But he's forced to stay a while after smashing up his car. He finds out that Martha and Walter have married, with Walter having an extremely ambitious political career. They find out about Sam's return, and they obviously worry because they think Sam knows the truth about what really happened all those years ago. Lizabeth Scott is in a supporting role as Toni, the woman who is ultimately responsible for Sam meeting up with Walter and Martha again.
Giannis Antetokoumpo has arrived. 44 tonight, with 2 Jordan-esque defensive plays in the final MIN. He is 22 years old... not about if. Not about when. It’s happening. Right now... the next greatest player in the NBA plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. It’s not a dream or an illusion.
People have talked about the jumper. It’s there. He’s no sharp shooter, but it’s there. His control is the biggest difference. Always under total control. He doesn’t need to shoot the ball 30+ times to get 44, just 23. And make 17.
And he does the little things. Steals, blocks, alters. He has arrived...
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