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Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” Thread, for the week of March 19-25, 2018. No Star of the Month, since TCM decided to do it this month as all five weeknights in prime time one week, and that was last week. However, there's still a lot of other interesting stuff out there. And it's all as fresh and new as my jokes! (Tasteful and erudite, too.) As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.


I can't recall whether I've recommended The Count of Monte Cristo before, but you've got a chance to catch it this week, at 1:30 PM Monday on TCM. Robert Donat plays Dantes, a young sailor who in 1815 is given the task of delivering a letter from Napoleon who is in exile on Elba. Of course, this is a big no-no, so his rival Fernand Mondego (Sidney Blackmer) has Dantes arrested and imprisoned in the Chateau d'If. It also leave Fernand free to marry Dantes' girlfriend Mercedes (Elissa Landi) once he's able to convince Mercedes that Dantes died. Of course Dantes didn't die; he's just stuck in a brutal prison. One old prisoner befriends him and tells him of the location of buried treasure on the island of Monte Cristo. Eventually, Dantes is able to escape, get to Monte Cristo to find that treasure, and then use his new wealth to work on a scheme to take revenge on the people who wrongly imprisoned him.


Burt Reynolds wasn't much of an actor outside of light comedy, Deliverance aside. A good example of this is Malone, which will be on StarzEncore Classics at 5:37 AM Tuesday. Reynolds plays Malone, a CIA assassin who's tired of the job and just wants to retire. The agency, however, wants to kill him because, well, the trope of the CIA being the bad guys was a thing in the 80s. (Now that they're against Trump, they and the FBI are the unalloyed good guys or something.) So they send his ex-partner and love interest Jamie (Lauren Hutton) after him. Meanwhile, Malone gets stuck in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming in a small town where it seems as though the mysterious Delaney (Cliff Robertson) is buying everything up. Delaney turns out to be some sort of right-wing whackjob and is taking over the town as part of a plot to serve as a stepping stone to the White House, as if any of this makes sense. Malone realizes he has to stop Delaney.


It's been a year and a half since I've recommended An Ideal Husband, which will be on TCM at 7:30 AM Tuesday as part of a day of movies with a blackmail theme. Hugh Williams plays Sir Robert, a prominent member of the House of Commons in the late Victorian era. He's opposed to funding a canal project in London, but at a party, the American Mrs. Cheveley (Paulette Goddard) comes to Sir Robert with an offer he can't refuse. She's invested heavily in that canal, and if Sir Robert doesn't support it, she'll tell everybody about how he sold a state secret 25 years earlier. Sir Robert turns to his friend Viscout Goring (Michael Wilding) for help; the viscount comes up with a plot to catch Cheveley, with a little help from Sir Robert's unmarried sister Mable (Glynis Johns). Meanwhile, Sir Robert's wife, Lady Gertrude (Diana Wynyard) is none too happy with her husband's change of heart on the canal matter, not knowing about his past. The always delightful C. Aubrey Smith plays the Viscount's father. This is all based on a popular play by Oscar Wilde and filmed in lively Technicolor.


The day of blackmail movies on TCM concludes with Alfred Hitchcock's 1929 Blackmail, his first talkie and a really good early talkie about a woman who kills in self defense, only for there to be a witness to the crime who tries to blackmail her. Speaking of Hitchcock, StarzEncore Mysteries is running Rope this Thursday at 6:53 AM and Sunday at 5:59 AM. Farley Granger and John Dall play a pair of classmates who, having learned odd theories on philosophy about who deserves to live from one of their professors (James Stewart), decide to kill another of their classmates. Then, in a fit of hubris, they hold a dinner party and serve a buffet off a chest of books that actually has the dead body inside it! And they've invited the dead guy's girlfriend as well as their old professor. (Of course, the movie isn't a mystery since the murder is committed in the opening scene and we know damn well who the killers are.)


There were about half a dozen Michael Shayne movies made in the early 40s, although FXM Retro only shows two or three of them. One that they do show is Dressed to Kill, which will be on at 6:00 AM Tuesday and 4:45 AM Wednesday. Michael Shayne, played by Lloyd Nolan, was Fox's answer to the popular detective movie series at the other studios. In this one, he's on the verge of getting married (I'm reminded of Torchy Blane and her policeman boyfriend), to his fiancée Joanne (Mary Beth Hughes). But as he's picking her up, they hear screams in the apartment a floor above. So of course Michael investigates, and finds two dead bodies! So of course Michael has to investigate a murder case. In this case, the two dead people were found in costume at the dinner table, so they were obviously part of the theater: the dead man was a producer, and the woman an actress in his latest play. And since they were involved in the theater, there are a lot of suspects, any of whom could be in disguise. William Demarest plays the incompetent policeman unable to crack the case which of course Michael ultimately does.


I mentioned Michael Wilding in An Ideal Husband above; I suppose I should also mention him in The Glass Slipper, which will be on TCM at 6:30 AM Thursday, as part of a day of movies about ballet or ballet dancers. As you can probably figure out from the title, it's a version of the Cinderella story, told with some dance and a dash of comedy. Wilding plays the Prince Charming character, here renamed Charles, and Leslie Caron plays the Cinderella character, renamed Ella. There's not quite as much magic here, as the “fairy godmother” (Estelle Winwood) is just the local crazy lady, and a kleptomaniac who steals to get the things Ella needs to go to the ball at the castle. Just return everything by midnight, hon. Of course, since there's no magic here, Charles might actually be able to find Ella with the help of that glass slipper Also in the cast are Walter Pidgeon as the narrator, Elsa Lanchester as the wicked stepmother and Amanda Blake, soon to be on Gunsmoke, as one of the stepsisters.


I see that Sunset Boulevard is back on the TCM schedule, at 8:00 PM Thursday. William Holden plays Joe Gillis, a failed Hollywood screenwriter who is in danger of having his car repossessed, that's how badly he's doing. As he's trying to escape the creditors, he pulls in to the driveway of what looks like an abandoned house on Sunset Blvd, and finds a crazy old and her butler are expecting him, thinking he's the undertaker for the funeral she's holding for her monkey! Of course, that's not the case. The old lady is Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), a silent film star who used to be big (she still is, she'll tell you; it's the pictures that got small). Her butler Max (Erich von Stroheim) moves all of Joe's stuff into the room over the garage overnight, because Norma could use a script doctor (not that they used the term back then) for the screenplay she's been working on for her comeback movie, a retelling of the Salome with her as the star. Joe realizes all this is bonkers, but he's trapped as the sugar baby to an insane woman.


On StarzEncore Westerns against Sunset Boulevard is Hombre, at 8:12 PM Thursday. Paul Newman plays John Russell, a white man who was raised by the Indians and now that he's an adult, decides he'd rather live on the reservation. However, he's inherited a place in the city, and that requires going back into white civilization to deal with all the probate matters and selling the place for what he really wants. His travels require him to get on a stagecoach with a bunch of characters who comprise the usual western archetypes: an older agent from the government sent to deal with the Indians (Fredric March); his wife (Barbara Rush); a sheriff (Carmon Mitchell); and his ex-fiancée (Diane Cilento) who is starting a business in a new town. They don't particularly like John for his rejection of white civilization, but they're going to need him after the stage is held up and the lack of water the group suffers from threatens their survival. There's more dissension in the group than just their dislike for John….


Among the programming changes TCM made with the conclusion of 31 Days of Oscar is the moving of TCM Underground to overnight between Friday and Saturday. This week sees a double bill of Willard (2:45 AM Saturday) followed by Ben (4:30 AM Saturday). I'll mention Willard since I've watched it more recently. Willard Stiles (Bruce Davison) is a meek man living with his widowed mother (Elsa Lanchester) and putting up with a nasty boss Martin (Ernest Borgnine) who Mom thinks stole the business out from under Dad. The only comfort Willard has is with the rats that are in the basement and out back. So Willard decides to start training them, finding that two of them, Ben and Socrates, are particularly good leaders. Willard then uses the rats to try to gain some measure of revenge on Martin, but you can probably guess that he's playing with fire in that a large number of rats becomes hard to control.


I'm not certain if I've recommended The Eagle and the Hawk before. It'll be on TCM at 8:30 AM Sunday. World War I was the first major conflict with airplane combat, and any number of people with a sense of adventure volunteered even before their countries were officially belligerents. This movie looks at three Americans: Jeremiah (Fredric March), Mike (Jack Oakie), and Henry (a very young Cary Grant) who all go over to England to volunteer for the air corps that would eventually become the RAF. Henry washes out as a pilot and gets assigned to become a tail-gunner instead, while Jeremiah becomes an excellent reconnaissance pilot. Well, except for the fact that he keeps losing his partners in the two-man biplane crews. This, combined with the fact that he's actually killing Germans, begins to give him intense feelings of guilt about what he's doing. Carole Lombard shows up for a bit to provide everybody a romantic break amongst the horrors of war.

Need a math person

I am curious as how the rate of inflation of the USD compares to the salary of say, a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers for the years 1966 and 2016. I found an online calculator to estimate the rate of inflation for the dollar: $1 in 1966 compares to $7.53368 in 2016. It gave me: Average inflation rate of 4.12144% and a total inflation rate of 653.36835%. But I can't find 1) salaries for comparable linebackers of each era and 2) an online calculator to figure it out for me. 

I did not choose quarterbacks because without even doing the math, I'm sure the "inflation" is through the roof and off into space past the second galaxy on the right.

If nothing else, the above is a problem JAPF can offer his students. 

(I always hated that famous: "If train A leaves the station at 5:05 a.m. going 30 mph and train B leaves the station at the other end of the line at 6:15 a.m. going 25 mph and the track is 50 miles long, when will they meet*?" (*AKA, mass destruction and loss of life.)

NCAA tournament


Virginia is about to LOSE!!!!


Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” Thread, for the week of March 12-18, 2018. I know none of you care about the basketball any longer since Wisconsin had such a crappy season. So now is a good time to spend with some movies. Once again, I've used my discerning taste to pick out a bunch of interesting movies and I know there's something for everybody here. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.


This week we get a new Star of the Month on TCM: Elizabeth Taylor, who went from being a child star on the MGM lot to a beauty in the 1950s, Oscar-winner in the 60s, and ultimately to big-haired humanitarian by the 1980s. Normally, TCM does its Star of the Month thing one particular weeknight every week for the month, but this time around they're running Elizabeth Taylor films every weeknight in prime time this week. Actually, TCM have enough movies that they can start off before prime time. The schedule is a bit odd, however, for what isn't being shown.
Taylor won two Oscars, and while TCM is showing Butterfield 8 at 8:00 PM Thursday, it doesn't look like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is on the schedule. (Also not on the schedule is A Place in the Sun.)
They did, however, get what I think is the TCM premiere of The Only Game in Town, at 8:00 PM Friday. In this one, Taylor plays a woman stuck in Las Vegas who meets a lounge piano player (Warren Beatty) and falls in love with him, although he can't get out of Vegas either.
Friday also sees a documentary on Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor: An Intimate Portrait, at 4:45 PM.
For the juvenile actress, those movies will be on Monday, starting with Cynthia at 4:15 PM.


I'm not certain if I've recommended Mark of the Vampire before. It's going to be on TCM Monday at noon. Sir Karell is a nobleman in one of those small Central European towns where the townsfolk believe in vampires. One day, he's found dead in his study, with a couple of pinprick wounds that could easily enough be the mark of a vampire's fangs! And of course, the locals are certain who around them is a vampire: Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna! So they naturally believe he's the murderer. Not only that, but they just know that Karell's daughter Irena is next on the list of people to be murdered by the vampire. But the big-city cop (Lionel Atwill) isn't so certain. To help him figure out what really happened, he brings in noted vampire expert Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore). Zelen starts stalking Mora, until he can get enough evidence to find out whether or not Mora was the real killer, and what the killer's motive was. Odd little vampire movie.


If you want to see a good western over on StarzEncore Westerns, you could do worse than to watch Ride Lonesome, which will be on at 1:53 AM Wednesday. Randolph Scott plays Ben Brigade, a professional bounty hunter whose current job has him bringing in killer Billy John (James Best) for trial. It's not going to be easy for a bunch of reasons that are standard to the genre. One is that they have to go through Indian territory and there are going to be attacks. Ben saves Mrs. Lane (Karen Steele) in one of those attacks, and she becomes a source of romantic distraction. Ben has a couple of small-time criminals helping him in the form of Sam (Pernell Roberts) and Whit (James Coburn), promising them amnesty, but who knows what they'll do when the chips are down. Following this group is Billy John's brother Frank (Lee Van Cleef). The Indians are willing to deal with Billy John themselves, but Ben doesn't want that because he actually wants Frank following him, for reasons that will become clear in the climax.


Series of detective movies were quite the thing back in the 1930s and 40s. One of the odder series was the Nick Carter movies, which ended after just three movies. The final of those movies, Sky Murder, will be on TCM at 10:30 AM Wednesday. Walter Pidgeon of all people plays Carter, this time facing off against baddies who are obviously Nazis, except that the filmmakers didn't want to call them that because the movie was released in September, 1940, before the US was at war. Anyhow, a man is found dead in a locked airplane compartment, wit seemingly no way to get in, the “locked room” genre being a particularly rich vein of mysteries. Conveniently suspected is German refugee Pat (Karen Verne), but she insists she's innocent, and and Nick sets out to prove her innocence and find the real killer, and the how since this is a locked room mystery after all. One of the things that made the Nick Carter movies interesting is Carter's sidekick Bartholomew, played by Donald Meek. Meek is about the last person you'd expect to play a detective's sidekick, and part of Bartholomew's character involves him keeping bees, which he uses at various points in the plot! Bizarre.


How Green Was My Valley is going to be on FXM Retro a couple of times this week, at 9:20 AM Thursday and 4:00 AM Friday. Roddy McDowall plays Huw Morgan, the youngest child of a family in a Welsh village circa 1900 where pretty much all the men go to work in the coal mine. Dad (Donald Crisp) and Mom (Sara Allgood) would like something more for little Huw, however, trying to get him an education. Meanwhile, new to town is the new preacher Mr. Gruffydd (Walter Pidgeon). He falls in love with Huw's older sister Angharad (Maureen O'Hara), although there's a lot of gossip about it, especially from the other deacons, and Gruffydd eventually makes the difficult decision to leave town without Angharad. Huw's older brothers want to start a miners' union, but the folks in Dad's generation aren't so sure. All of these plans may be scuppered when there's a disaster at the mine…. How Green Was My Valley often gets denigrated because it won the Best Picture Oscar over Citizen Kane, but it's actually a very good movie in its own right.


I can't recall the last time I recommended The Purchase Price here. But TCM will be running it at 8:30 AM Thursday, so I'll mention it this week. Barbara Stanwyck plays Joan, a New York nightclub singer who, because the movie was made during the Prohibition era, naturally has a gangster boyfriend Eddie (Lyle Talbot). She's sick of the way he treats her, so one night she up and takes the train to Montreal to escape to Canada. Unsurprisingly, Eddie eventually finds her up there and wants her back. Just as thinks look bleakest however, Joan learns that her maid was intending to start a new life as a mail-order bride! So Joan decides to switch places with her maid, becoming the bride to… Jim (George Brent), a wheat farmer in North Dakota. Probably not the sort of life she was expecting, but she's going to try to make the best of it. The other farmers wish they could have such a looker for a wife, and of course Eddie is still looking for her. Barbara Stanwyck makes everything she's in worth a watch.


The plot may sound like it came out of a screwball comedy, but a movie that was only made about 30 years ago is Overboard, which will be on StarzEncore Classics at 10:49 AM Friday. Kurt Russell plays Dean, a carpenter and single father to four boys. One day he gets a job for rich Joanna Slayton (Goldie Hawn), who lives on a yacht with her husband Grant (Edward Herrmann). Joanna stiffs him on the job and is a total jerk to him, and apparently everybody she meets since the crew applauds Dean for standing up to her. And then she has an accident in which she falls overboard, getting picked up by a garbage barge and suffering from a case of amnesia. Grant comes to claim her, but finally seeing what a jerk she is by the way she treats the hospital staff, denies knowing her. Dean decides he'll claim her by saying she's his wife, and punish her by forcing her to play housewife and mother his four kids. You can probably guess that what really happens is that all this begins to change Joanna's personality, and that Dean begins to find himself falling in love with her for real.


Bette Davis spent a while in London in 1937 suing Warner Bros. for giving her bad roles that she claimed were ruining her career. The movie that allegedly brought about the departure from Hollywood was God's Country and the Woman, which will be on TCM at noon Friday. Robert Barratt plays Jefferson Russett, who owns a big forestry concern. He's hired on his no-good son Steve (George Brent) to work for the company, and Steve promptly screws up by giving the rival Barton logging company too good a deal on the use of the Russett rails. The resulting dust-up results in Steve trying to flee, winding up stranded in the Barton logging camp, which is run by pretty Jo (Beverly Roberts in the role that Bette Davis was presumably going to play). You can guess that they fall in love, which is going to be a problem when Steve is revealed to be a Russett since Steve's dad hates Jo and the rest of the Bartons. This was one of the first outdoor movie produced in the three-strip Technicolor format. Judge for yourself whether it would have hurt Davis' career.


After all the basketball is over for the weekend, you can watch Madigan, at 8:00 PM Sunday on TCM. Madigan, played by Richard Widmark, is one of those cops who populated movies of the late 60s and early 70s: somewhat unorthodox and using methods that would give his bosses, in this case police commissioner Russell (Henry Fonda), fits. It doesn't always come up roses for Madigan, though. While trying to bring in a suspected murderer Benesch in Spanish Harlem, Madigan and his partner Bonaro (Harry Guardino) get waylaid, with Benesch not only getting away, but getting Madigan and Bonaro's guns in the process. For fairly obvious reasons, this pisses the commissioner off to no end, so he give the two detectives an ultimatum. Bring Benesch in in 72 hours, or else. Russell, for his part, has all his professional duties like dealing with the political muckety-mucks, or the wives of injured cops, and doesn't need another headache like Madigan.