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Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” thread, for the week of June 29-July 5, 2020. Independence Day is this week, and one can hope against hope that we'll soon be free from all the government panic bullsh!t surrounding the coronavirus. But if not, there's still an ample number of interesting movies to watch, including more from Star of the Month Ann Sheridan, and a movie suitable for the July 4 holiday. As always, all times are in Eastern unless otherwise mentioned.

 

I recommended a Ronald Reagan movie last week, and didn't realize I'd be mentioning a couple more this week. The first of them is Storm Warning, which will be on TCM at 10:00 AM Tuesday. Top billing goes to Ginger ******, playing Marsha, a fashion model who decides to stop in a Southern town one day to see her sister Lucy (Doris Day) and Lucy's relatively new husband Hank (Steve Cochrane). However, on the way into town, Marsha witnesses a murder! The good news is that the murderers didn't see Marsha. The bad news is that when she, not having been at Lucy's wedding, meets Hank for what is supposed to be the first time, she realizes that Hank is one of the murderers! Worst of all is that Hank and the other guy are part of the Klan, and had murdered a reporter who had come south to do an exposé on the Klan. Reagan plays Burt Rainey, a local prosecutor. Everybody in town knows the Klan is responsible for the murder, but nobody wants to identify the murderers because they have to live with the Klan. Marsha, as a temporary visitor, won't have to live with the Klan, and Burt realizes she could be a valuable witness. But it will put a lot of people in danger.

 

On Tuesday, we get one more night of TCM Star of the Month Ann Sheridan. This final night features some movies with people she starred with frequently, although considering the studio system, it shouldn't be a surprise that she starred opposite the same people over and over. One of those co-stars was Ronald Reagan, and that partnership is spotlighted by Juke Girl, at 3:00 AM Wednesday. Sheridan plays the titular girl, named Lola, who works in a juke joint in rural Florida frequented by migrant farm labor in an era when the Mexicans hadn't made all the way across the country. Among them are best friends Steve (Reagan) and Danny (Richard Whorf). Danny works for Madden (Gene Lockhart), a wholesaler who is a bit unscrupulous, while Steve works for one of the farmers getting victimized by Madden. Steve sees what Madden is doing to the farmers and, having lost his own farm in the Dust Bowl, decides he wants to help the farmers beat Madden's wholesale monopoly. This is going to test Steve and Danny's friendship.

 

You probably recall Peter Marshall from The Hollywood Squares. But before that he was in a comedy time with Tommy Noonan, and they made a couple of films together. One of those, Swingin' Along, will be on FXM this week at 4:45 AM Wednesday. Noonan plays Freddy, a failure in life who delivers custom-made cakes for his aunt Sophie (Connie Gilchrist) while trying to write a song for a contest. While trying to get a better job as a pianist, he runs into Duke (Marshall), an obnoxious small-time con artist. Duke takes Freddy under his wing, but it's really only because Duke wants the prize money from the contest since he's in debt. Duke keeps running into Carol (Barbara Eden before I Dream of Jeannie), and uses every trick in the book to try to schmooze with her and get her to be his girlfriend. Unfortunately, Noonan and Marshall didn't really translate well to the big screen. But this movie at least has a couple of cameos from well-known singers, including Ray Charles and Bobby Vee, and the movie doesn't overstay its welcome.

 

Speaking of Ray Charles, he was the subject of the biopic Ray, and that movie shows up, at 7:25 PM Tuesday on HBO. Jamie Foxx stars as Charles, the singer who had a rather eventful life. Ray wasn't born blind, but lost his sight around the age of 7. He learned to play the piano, and in the late 1940s, he left his native Florida to make it out in the wide world, getting a series of jobs in the live music business since he can play the piano so well. Eventually he's successful enough to get a record contract as the lead singer, but he's also introduced to heroin, which is going to be a problem throughout his life. He gets married but also has a kid by another woman, and also has to deal with the civil rights struggle being a black man who developed a significant popularity with white audiences. Through it all, Ray also tries to change music by melding various genres such as R&B, country, and gospel together on songs like “I Can't Stop Loving You” and “Hit the Road Jack”.

 

In addition to Ray Charles, there's also Ray Harryhausen, the man famous for his stop-motion photography in sci-fi and monster movies of the 1950s. Monday is the centenary of his birth, so it's not surprising that TCM is spending Monday night with some of the movies featuring his animation. The night includes one of his earliest movies, Mighty Joe Young at 1:30 AM Tuesday, in which Harryhausen animated a King Kong-like ape. One of Harryhausen's last movies, 1981's Clash of the Titans, follows at 3:30 AM. But the night starts off with a trio of his films from when he was at his highest (although unfortunately, Jason and the Argonauts isn't among them). Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (10:00 PM Monday) is a fun little one that has UFOs crashing into various landmarks in Washington DC, which is never a bad thing.

 

I've already mentioned Ginger ****** once, but I'm recommending another of her movies this week: Top Hat, on TCM at 12:15 AM Thursday (which is still late Wednesday evening LFT). Ginger plays Dale Tremont a model working in London. Also working there is dancer Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire), who is working on numbers for his new show. They're in the same hotel, with Jerry's producer Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton) in the room directly over Dale's, so his dancing keeps poor Dale up until all hours of the night, so she of course hates the dancer above. Except that the first time she meets him, she doesn't realize he's the dancer, and they fall in love. But of course she's going to find out, and complications are going to ensue. Further making things a mess for them is that Mrs. Hardwick (Helen Broderick) is an old friend of Dale's. Of course, one doesn't really watch a movie like this for the nonsense plot; one watches to see Fred and Ginger dance together, and they get some great numbers here like “Cheek to Cheek”.

 

It's been a couple of years since I recommended Garden of Evil, but I see that it's coming on again this week, at 9:41 PM Thursday on StarzEncore Westerns. Three men: Hooker (Gary Cooper), Fiske (Richard Widmark), and Daly (Cameron Mitchell) are traveling by boat to California when the boat develops problems and they have to stop in a small village in Mexico. There, the three men are approached by Leah (Susan Hayward), who says that she has a job for them that could pay big. It seems that her husband has been trapped in a cave-in in their gold mine (you'd think he'd have died by now from lack of food or oxygen), and if the three can help rescue him, it could be worth their while. Of course, the mine is on Indian land, and the Indians are violent. Leah may have her own motivations too. And all three guys start thinking about getting that mine for themselves, as well as possibly getting Leah if the husband (Hugh Marlowe) doesn't make it. Rita Morena also has a small role.

 

Another movie with a slightly nutty plot is Consolation Marriage, which airs this week at 6:30 AM Friday on TCM. Irene Dunne plays Mary Brown, a shop-girl who was in love with Aubrey until he left her to marry a rich woman. Pat O'Brien is Steve Porter, a reporter in love with Elaine (Myrna Loy) until she leaves to marry another man. So the two jilted parties meet each other and decide that the most logical thing to do is get a marriage of convenience to each other to cut expenses, with the caveat that it's a sort of open marriage in that either can leave should somebody better come along. They even have a baby together in the midst of all this. But wouldn't you know that Aubrey grows increasingly disillusioned with his marriage and comes back looking for Mary. And at about the same time, Elaine has the same thoughts about her husband and wants Steve to dump Mary for her. The obviously solution would be for Aubrey and Elaine to marry each other and possibly suffer, but can Steve and Mary's marriage last the test of time?

 

For those of you who like more recent movies, I already mentioned Ray. But there's also Wayne's World, which shows up on StarzEncore Classics at 8:23 AM Saturday. Based on the Saturday Night Live sketches, the movie stars Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as Wayne and Garth respectively. They're a couple of friends from Aurora IL who haven't quite made it in life and for whom one of their joys is to host a poorly-produced show on the local cable public access channel. Somehow, the show becomes enough of a hit to attract the attention of Ben Oliver (Rob Lowe), who wants to give them a show on a real channel, with professional polish. This brings them into contact with a band fronted by Cassandra (Tia Carrera), with whom Wayne promptly falls in love. But Wayne and Garth also discover that the big time isn't all it's cracked up to be as it changes the show in ways they don't like. Also, Ben wants Cassandra for himself and has his own agenda for having made Wayne and Garth popular.

 

Saturday being Independence Day, it's not a surprise that TCM gives us a couple of movies that are appropriate for the day. One of them is John Paul Jones, at noon Saturday. You probably remember that name from your American History classes; Jones (played by Robert Stack) is a Scottish-born sailor who flees to the American colonies to escape some legal difficulties. When the revolution comes, Jones sees his chance to rise in the new American navy. He takes his ship the Bonhomme Richard and beats one of the best British ships in battle. But in the aftermath of the war the new America doesn't seem to want him. He works for a few years in the service of Russia's Catherine the Great (Bette Davis) and eventually dies in Paris. The film is riddled with historic inaccuracies. There's a love triangle in which he and Patrick Henry (Macdonald Carey) are the two suitors for the same woman. More amusing is that Jones' longtime friend Ben Franklin (Charles Coburn) is at Jones' bedside when Jones is dying. In real life, Franklin died several years before Jones.

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* Game played at neutral location

Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of June 22-28, 2020.  It's hard to believe that the days are already getting shorter, although it's not as if there's that much darkness out there.  And if the hot weather is keeping you up at night, try watching some good movies.  There's more from TCM Star of the month Ann Sheridan; a couple of 80s movies; the spotlight on jazz, and more.  As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.

 

Most of you will remember Gloria Swanson for Sunset Blvd., but she had a long career before that comeback. That first career more or less petered out by the time she made Music in the Air, which is on TCM at 6:00 AM Monday. Swanson plays Frieda, a Munich stage actress in a long relationship but not yet married to Bruno (John Boles), the lack of a marriage being mostly because they're constantly bickering. Into this comes rural composer Dr. Lessing (Al Shean), who's come to the big city with his daughter Sieglinde (June Lang) to try to make it in the big city. Sieglinde has a boyfriend Karl (Douglass Montgomery) back in the small town who's eventually going to show up in Munich. Meanwhile, in Munich Dr. Lessing tries to get one of his songs into Bruno and Frieda's new show. When Karl shows up, Frieda realizes she can use him to get her way in the relationship with Bruno. But then it might screw up Karl and Sieglinde's relationship. This is based on a Broadway show with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein (long before the partnership with Rоdgers), and music by Jerome Kern.

 

We've got a couple of 80s movies this week. The first of them is Platoon, airing at 9:29 AM Monday on StarzEncore Classics. Charlie Sheen, before he went nuts, plays Chris, an idealistic young college student in 1967 who decides to drop out of college because he believes that the war against the Communists in Vietnam is just, and wants to volunteer to fight. What he finds when he gets there is not what he expected at all. The soldiers who have been in Vietnam for a while don't really care for the new guys, and worse, he's got two commanding officers who have diametrically opposed views. Sgt. Elias (William Dafoe) tries to fight within the traditional rules of war despite having to fight a guerrilla force, while Sgt. Barnes (Tom Berenger) doesn't care and does whatever he feels is necessary to achieve the mission, even if it means things like killing innocent women and children. The war has an indelible psychological effect on everybody who fights in it.

 

We get another night of Ann Sheridan's movies on TCM on Tuesday, including It All Came True, at 3:30 AM Wednesday. Sheridan plays Sarah Jane, a nightclub singer who's got a friend in songwriter Tommy (Jeffrey Lynn) because their mothers (Una O'Connor and Jessie Busley respectively) run a boarding house together – and the two moms have some overdue taxes to pay, so the kids return to help them out. Unfortunately, Tommy has some problems with the law. His old boss Chips Maguire (Humphrey Bogart) is a gangster who ran a nightclub and shot a police informant with Tommy's gun, so now Chips needs a place to hide out, with the boarding house being a good place to do it. There are a lot of quirky tenants with odd talents, and when Chips grows bored with hiding out, he decides that perhaps some of these tenants could use a little bit of excitement in their lives by having the boarding house turn into a nightclub, with the tenants providing the talent. Of course, that could bring Chips back into the eye of the law….

 

A movie that I know I haven't recommended before is Bad Company. It's airing at 2:55 PM Wednesday on Epix2. Barry Brown plays Drew Dixon, an Ohio boy who's been drafted into the Civil War but has no desire to fight. So his family helps him dodge the draft, getting to Missouri and from there west to the territories to mine for silver out in Nevada. But when he gets to the jumping-off point in Missouri looking for a wagon train west, naïve Drew is rolled by Jake (Jeff Bridges), leader of a group of ragtag ne'er-do-wells who are similarly trying to escape their pasts back east. Drew falls in with them although he wants to live honestly, something that the hard times out in the Kansas territory aren't necessarily going to allow for. Jake's gang comes to the attention of the local marshal (Jim Davis), and worse, winter and hunger are closing in. And while Jake and Drew become friends of a sort, it may only be a friendship of convenience.

 

For some reason I thought I had recommended Lady Sings the Blues the last time it aired, but I picked a different musician biopic that week. Anyhow, it's on this week at 9:45 PM Thursday, so now's your chance to get it. Diana Ross plays Billie Holiday, who at the start of the movie is being put in solitary after an arrest for heroin possession and needing to detox. This gives her a chance to figure out how she got there…. Billie started off in Baltimore working as a cleaning girl at a brothel, getting raped and escaping to New York where her mother lived. Eventually, she winds up at a nightclub where she convinces the manager to let her sing. Frequenting the club is Louis McKay (Billy Dee Williams), who falls in love with her and the two eventually have a tempestuous relationship. A white bandleader wants Billie to front his jazz band, which means facing racism. And her best platonic friend, her pianist (Richard Pryor, who's excellent in a dramatic role), winds up having demons of his own. Can Billie make it back from heroin addiction to triumph again? Apparently, it's only loosely based on Holiday's real life.

 

Up against Lady Sings the Blues is our next movie, A Day of Fury, at 11:13 PM Thursday. It'll also be on at 9:08 AM Friday. Jock Mahoney is Marshal Burnett, the law enforcement in a small town in Oklahoma. While out on a manhunt, his life is in danger, but he's saved by Jagade (Dale Robertson), who himself is a gunslinger but not the man Burnett was looking for. Jagade winds up coming to Burnett's town to stay a while, which brings up all sorts of complications. First, Jagade had a past with Sharman (Mara Corday), who now happens to be Burnett's fiancée. The townsfolk don't want a gunslinger in town, but since there aren't any warrants out for Jagade's arrest and he hasn't committed any crimes in town, there's not much the marshal can do, never mind the debt he feels since Jagade saved his life. Meanwhile, Jagade starts working one the town's citizens and begins to turn some of them against Burnett.

 

Meanwhile, up against the Friday morning showing of A Day of Fury is Strange Cargo, which begins at 10:00 AM Friday on TCM. Clark Gable plays Verne, who's being transported to a Devil's Island-like penal colony. On the way there he meets Julie (Joan Crawford), some sort of woman of ill-repute who hasn't actually done anything illegal enough to wind up in prison, so she's just free on the island. In prison, Verne meets Moll (Albert Dekker), who hates Verne and the feeling is mutual. But Moll is trying to come up with an escape plan, and Verne wants a place in the escape party, including Paul Lukas as a serial killer and Ian Hunter as a Christ-like figure. Julie apparently is the one on the outside who knows where the boat that's supposedly going to take the convicts off the island is, and in the meantime she's fallen in love with Verne despite having turned him in at the beginning and being in moral debt to slimy bounty hunter Pig (Peter Lorre). The title is appropriate, as there's a lot strange (but quite interesting) going on here.

 

TCM's Saturday matinee block has been including a B movie that runs about an hour starting just before 8:30 AM to fit before the serial. This week's entry is Accidents Will Happen, at around 8:25 AM. Ronald Reagan plays insurance adjustor Eric Gregg, who's married to Nona (Sheila Bromley), a woman who wishes her husband could advance faster and make more money. A bunch of insurance fraudsters see this and use it as a way to get Eric fired by getting his wife involved in insurance fraud. He decides he's not going to take it, with the attitude of “if you can't beat 'em, join 'em”, and actually starts getting involved in insurance fraud himself! Except that there's a method to his actress. Meanwhile, Joan Blondell's sister Gloria plays Pat, a clerk with a crush on Eric except for the fact that he's married. But when he needs help getting his job back, she's there to help him bring down the fraudsters. It's a breezy little B movie, but Reagan was just the type for this sort of movie.

 

The screwball comedy era had some pretty darn funny movies dealing with divorce. A more recent movie that fits the same topic is The War of the Roses, which you can cat at 4:04 AM Sunday on Starz Comedy. Danny DeVito, who also directed, plays divorce lawyer Gavin D'Amato, who has a new client that he gives a warning about the difficulties of getting divorced. Flash back to clients the Roses. Oliver (Michael Douglas) met Barbara (Kathleen Turner) in college and the two fell in love despite not necessarily being compatible. Two decades later, and they're getting divorced. But with Oliver being a successful lawyer himself, he's quite wealthy and has a big house with lots of possessions. He's going to do everything within his power to keep the house – but then again, so is Barbara, who's grown accustomed to it. And there are some pretty frighteningly funny lengths the two will go to in order to “win” in the divorce settlement, even if it's a Pyrrhic victory.

 

Finally, I've mentioned it before, but it you want a really funny (in an unintentional way) short, stay tuned for the end of the TCM Underground block. In the 5:30 AM Saturday time slot, one of the two shorts is The House in the Middle. Produced by a coalition of paint manufactures, this short has the bizarre premise that a good way to help ensure survival should there be a nuclear attack is… to make certain your house is clean and well-kept! The house that hasn't been painted in a while burns, while the one that has an untidy interior has a lot of crap in it to catch fire, none of which the middle house has. And now that you've kept your own house neat, go out in the neighborhood and get everybody else to get their houses and yards in shape. Yeah, it really is that nutty.

 

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