Welcome to another house arrest version of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” thread, for the week of March 30-April 5, 2020. With a lot of time on your hands, there are a lot of interesting movies out there. One thing this week is that there is no TCM Star of the Month, because the March star was on Wednesday nights and the April star doesn't begin until next week. But there's a lot of good stuff on TCM and various other channels anyway, and I've used my good taste to select several for you. As always, all times are in Eastern unless otherwise mentioned, which is important to note this week because I picked a movie that begins at midnight ET.
We get one more Monday of movies at sea on TCM, including one that might sound similar but I don't think I've mentioned in a long time, Three Daring Daughters at 10:45 AM. Jeannette McDonald plays Louise Morgan. a divorcée with three daughters who is also an overworked magazine editor. It's gotten to the point that Louise's doctor orders her to take a vacation, which she does by going on a cruise to Cuba, where she meets pianist José Iturbi, who is played by the famous pianist José Iturbi. Meanwhile, the three daughters, led by Tess (Jane Powell), believe the lies their mother told them about Dad actually being a good guy foreign correspondent who was away all the time, and think that if Dad can return home, Mom will be happy again. So they go to his boss Nelson (Edward Arnold) to find out what's going on, and them Mom returns home with José, with whom she's now in love although she's playing hard to get with José. Can everybody (well, except for the unseen dad) overcome their differences and live happily ever after? Yes, with a bunch of songs thrown in.
Up against Three Daring Daughters is a movie that has been in the FXM rotation for a couple of months now: French Connection II, at 9:45 AM Monday. As you may recall from the original French Connection, drug dealer Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) was able to get away from the confrontation with New York police, and make it back to his native Marseilles, France. He's still distributing to America, so the Americans send Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) over to Marseilles, even though he doesn't speak French, as he's the only one who can actually identify Charnier and isn't corrupt. (no mention of what happened to Doyle's partner Russo; Roy Scheider is not in the movie). Doyle is to work with Henri Barthélémy (Bernard Fresson), with Barthélémy being strictly in charge. Of course, the two wind up clashing all the time. Further complicating matters is that Charnier's men capture Popeye, holding him captive long enough and injecting him with enough heroin that he's going to go through withdrawal before the cops can get to the final showdown. Not bad, but not quite as good as the original.
TCM's Tuesday night lineup is a night of movies looking at suffragettes. Among the movies is what appears to be the TCM premiere of The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, at 8:00 PM. Betty Grable plays Miss Pilgrim, a woman in late 19th century Boston who has just graduated business school as a stenographer, which really means that she's going to be using the new technology of the typewriter. At that time, all the clerks were still men, so when she goes to work at a Boston shipping company, everybody is, well, shocked. But of course since this is Betty Grable everybody winds up liking her, especially her boss John Pritchard (Dick Haymes), who winds up falling in love with her. They could get married, but the women in the suffrage movement want her to be a role model considering the trail she's blazed. She's somewhat open to the idea, but that doesn't make John happy since he wants her to settle down. The movie has a score of lesser George and Ira Gershwin songs.
How would you like to see Leslie Nielsen in a western? You've got a chance to do just that this week, if you watch Gunfight in Abilene at 5:05 AM Wednesday on StarzEncore Westerns. Nielsen is the co-star here, the actual star being singer Bobby Darin who made a fair number of movies. Darin plays Cal Wayne, who went off to fight in the Civil War and accidentally shot his best friend Evers to death. Nielsen plays the dead Evers' brother Grant, and when Cal returns home from the war, he finds that Grant has fallen in love with Cal's old girlfriend Amy (Emily Banks). Cal feels so guilty about having killed Grant's brother that he's willing to give up Amy and not carry a gun any more. But as in so many westerns, there's also a range war going on between the ranchers and the settlers flowing in, and the town needs a marshal. Evers impresses on a very reluctant Cal that perhaps he should take on the job of marshal, which Cal does, leading to the ultimate showdown.
Wednesday is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune, who made a bunch of movies with famed director Akira Kurosawa. TCM is showing Mifune's movies all day and night Wednesday, starting at 6:00 AM with Drunken Angel. Mifune does not play the title role; that goes to Takashi Shimura as Dr. Sanada, an alcoholic doctor in a small Japanese town just after World War II. Mifune plays Matsunaga, the interim head of the local yakuza, who has been in charge because his boss was in prison and because of the disruptions from the war. Matsunaga got shot and goes to Sanada for treatment, but Sanada quickly diagnoses that Matsunaga has a much bigger problem in a raging case of tuberculosis that needs treatment. So the good doctor starts treating the gangster, and the two form an uneasy, dysfunctional friendship. But things get complicated when Matsunaga's old boss Okada gets out of prison and clearly wants his old authority back.
One of the TCM spotlights in April is on New York City in the 1970s. It'll be on every Thursday in April (well, one Thursday is getting preempted). Among the movies this Thursday is Klute, at midnight Friday (ie. 11:00 PM Thursday LFT). Donald Sutherland plays John Klute, a detective in Pennsylvania who is approached by executive Peter Cable (Charles Cioffi) for help in a case. Apparently, Cable's colleague Tom Gruneman has disappeared, and the only evidence they can find is of a letter Tom wrote addressed to Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), a prostitute in New York; further evidence reveals Tom has been going back and forth to New York to see Bree. So Klute goes to New York to try to find Tom, seeing Bree since that's the obvious first place to start. Bree isn't prepared to help Klute at first but eventually does, in part because as Klute investigates people around Bree start being in terrible danger. Bree also begins to develop feelings for Klute, which she isn't at all certain she wants.
For a different sort of crime movie, you could watch Problem Child, on StarzEncore Classics at 9:04 AM Friday. John Ritter and Amy Yasbeck are Ben and Flo Healey, a couple with problems in that Ben's father won't let him inherit the family business, while both spouses are infertile. So they meet adoption agent Mr. Peabody (Gilbert Gottfried). Peabody gets them to adopt Junior (Michael Oliver), a 7-year-old “problem child” who is a little hell raiser, causing all sorts of problems with his terrible behavior. Worse, he's been pen pals with Martin Beck (Michael Richards), a serial killer trying to break out of prison. Martin, known as the “Bow Tie killer”, eventually does get out of prison and, thinking that “Junior” is an adult and fellow prisoner, decides to seek out Junior, who is of course just a kid and hadn't told the parents about Martin, now lying that Martin is in fact his uncle. Martin takes Flo and Junior hostage and Ben might finally have a chance to redeem himself.
If you liked Three Daring Daughters, you might be interested in a movie with some similar themes presented very differently, Father Is a Bachelor, at 11:45 PM Friday on TCM. William Holden plays the father/bachelor here, a man named Johnny Rutledge working in a turn-of-the-century medicine show with the “Professor” (Charles Winninger). When the Professor is arrested, Johnny has to settle down, and finds a cabin out in the middle of nowhere. Except that there are five orphaned children living in the cabin. In fact, they've been orphaned for some time, but don't want the local school teacher Miss Millett (Coleen Gray) to know because that would mean the breakup of the siblings. So Johnny agrees to let the kids pass him off as their uncle because it's convenient in keeping him from getting arrested along with the professor. But you know he's going to start to fit in in the small town, especially as he begins to fall for Millett, and the dilemma will come when the Professor gets out of jail. This was Holden's last movie before Sunset Blvd. made him a big star.
TCM is doing a spotlight on director Peter Bogdanovich on three of the four Saturday nights in April, showing a pair of his films before Noir Alley. This first Saturday kicks off with his first feature film, Targets, at 8:00 PM. Boris Karloff plays Orlok, a horror actor who has just completed what he says is going to be his final movie. He doesn't even want to attend a special screening of it at a local drive-in. Meanwhile, Bobby (Tim O'Kelly) buys a high-power sniper's rifle, with the scenes edited in such a way that you expect Bobby to shoot Orlok. However, that's not what happens. Bobby goes home, shoots up his family, and then goes out in public to an oil tank at an industrial site from which he starts shooting people in the cars on the streets below. Eventually the authorities arrive, but Bobby is able to get away to… the drive-in theater where that showing of one of Orlok's movies is going to take place. This might be Orlok's chance at one final act. This was Karloff's final American movie, although a few quickies he made in Mexico would be released after his death.
We'll conclude with one more 1990s movie, In the Line of Fire, which is going to be on several times, including at 1:35 AM Sunday on StarzEncore Action. Clint Eastwood plays Horrigan, a career Secret Service agent who was assigned a security detail in Dallas in November 1963; if you know your history you know that means the assassination of President Kennedy. So Horrigan has been feeling guilt over having been unable to prevent that killing. Thirty years on, and the current president (Jim Curley) is running for reelection. There's an ex-CIA agent, Mitch Leary (John Malkovich), who got fired from the agency and is convinced that the CIA is trying to kill him. So he's plotting to kill the president, and rather stupidly doesn't keep it a secret, instead sending death threats and beginning to taunt Horrigan over it once Horrigan gets assigned to the case. Leary is able to kill one of Horrigan's Secret Service colleagues, but will he be able to get the president? Watch also for Fred Thompson just before he left acting to go back into politics.