Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of September 24-30, 2018. We're in the last week of a month, which means it's your last chance to see the Black Experience in Film spotlight, as well as your last chance at Star of the Month Dean Martin. However, there is interesting stuff on the other movie channels. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
TCM is spending Monday night with the 1970s movies of director Martin Scorsese, including one of his less well-known films, Boxcar Bertha at 11:15 PM. Bertha (Barbara Hershey) is a prostitute riding the rails in the Depression era and getting by with the help of some petty larceny. She runs into Big Bill (David Carradine), a union organizer who is trying to get back at the railroads for the violent way they treat their workers. Bertha and Bill begin to fall in love and fall in with a couple of other small-time con artists. But one of the small jobs winds up with a gambler getting killed and Bertha and Bill wanted in connection with the case. So they have to go on the run, continuing to rob trains. Roger Corman produced, so you know there's going to be a lot of gratuitous violence. But even more than that there's the sex. On the other hand, there's a fairly good story, as well as nice location shooting in Arkansas and vintage trains for the train buffs.
If you want to feel old, consider that it's been a quarter of a century since Indecent Proposal first appeared in theaters. It's going to be on StarzEncore Classics, at 1:32 AN Tuesday. Demi Moore plays Diana, a real estate agent happily married to her long-time sweetheart, architect David (Woody Harrelson). They've found a nice place to build their dream house, but then another recession comes and the money that they'd saved up for the house has to be used on just getting by. With the dream of that dream house getting father away, they come up with the dumb idea of going to Vegas to try to win the money gambling. Needless to say the house always wins, but at least Diana is able to be a good luck charm to high roller gambler John (Robert Redford), a billionaire used to getting what he wants. When John hears the couple's tale of woe, he comes up with the titular proposal: John offers them one million dollars (too bad this was before Austin Powers so he couldn't use that tone of voice) for one night with Diana. Can the couple's marriage survive all this? (They should have all been interested in threesomes.)
TCM is spending Tuesday morning and afternoon with Aldo Ray as it's the anniversary of his birth in 1926. One of the movies I don't think I've recommended before is The Day They Robbed the Bank of England, at 6:45 AM Tuesday on TCM. Ray plays Charles Norgate, an Irish-American who is in England at the turn of the last century. He's been befriended by O'Shea (Hugh Griffith), a man who wants Ireland to be independent of Britian (this was before the division of the island into the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland), and who has decided that a good way to help the independence cause would be to get a bunch of gold out of the vaults in the Bank of England, although from the title you probably guess that some such thing was going to happen. Norgate befriends policeman and bank guard Capt. Finch (Peter O'Toole in one of his earliest performances), with the point of trying to learn about the bank's security details. Eventually it's figured out that there's an abandoned sewer line running almost directly under the vault, from which the Irish may be able to break in. But can Finch figure things out in time to stop it?
The Black Experience in Film spotlight continues on Tuesday night with a night of comedies. This includes Stir Crazy, at 9:30 PM. The obviously-not-black Gene Wilder plays Skip Donahue, a would-be playwright in New York who has just lost his job. He's best friends with Harry Monroe (Richard Pryor), a worker in a catering business who also loses his job. So the two men decide they're going to drive out to Los Angeles to try to make a success of their lives there. They only get as far as Arizona when, to make a little extra money, they take a job wearing giant woodpecker costumes for a bank promotion. Some other people steal the costumes and rob the bank, leaving Skip and Harry obviously framed, and sent to prison for 125 years. While in prison, they meet a whole bunch of bizarre characters and try to deal with the warden (Barry Corbin). The warden wants Skip to appear in the prison rodeo, which just might help Skip and Harry get out of prison. The movie was directed by Sidney Poitier; it's easy to forget that he directed some pretty good movies in addition to being an actor.
A movie that's been in FXM's rotation recently is The Hunters, which will be on again this week at 9:45 AM Wednesday. Robert Mitchum plays Maj. Saville, who has been called back into active duty in the Korean War as a pilot. When in transit in Japan, he meets lousy pilot Lt. Abbott (Lee Phillips) who's going to be serving under him, and Abbott's worried wife Kris (May Britt, one of those Europeans that Hollywood was trying to groom to stardom). Saville and Mrs. Abbott are going to develop feelings for each other, provigin the romantic tension subplot. Joining the squadron is hot shot Lt. Pell (Robert Wagner). Together they're going to be fighting the North Koreans and their Chinese backers, most notably one particular Chinese pilot nicknamed Casey Jones. One one of the missions, Abbott gets shot down, so Saville decides he's going to ditch his plane to try to save Saville. Pell provides cover, but also gets show down in the process. Three men, one of them injured, have to try to make it across enemy lines.
Wednesday night brings one final night of Dean Martin movies in his time as TCM's Star of the Month, this time focusing on his later roles. The night kicks off at 8:00 PM with The Silencers. This is one of those spy spoofs that became popular after the James Bond movies became big. I mentioned James Coburn as Doing a few weeks back, and now we have Martin as Matt Helm. He's a retired agent who gets brought out of retirement when a Spectre-like organization comes up with a plot that involves detonating a nuclear bomb over Alamagordo with the intention of getting the US and Soviet Union to start World War III. So Helm's former colleague Tina (Daliah Lavi, because all these movies needed an exotic European woman) brings Helm into the job against, among others a Chinese Victor Buono. Stella Stevens also provides eye candy as one of the baddies' girlfriends who isn't so bad herself, while Cyd Charisse does her dancing and advances the plot by giving Helm a microfilm.
The Encore channels have the rights to several of the James Bond movies, and this week A View to a Kill is airing, at 2:56 PM Thursday on StarzEncore Action. Roger Moore returns for one last Bond movie, this time getting a microchip out of the Soviet Union. It turns out that the chip has ripped off a Western design for a chip that could survive their electromagnetic disruption of a nuclear explosion. And that design has been stolen by Zorin (Christopher Walken), an enigmatic business magnate. Bond's job is to investigate. What he eventually discovers is that Zorin has a scheme to corner the microchip market, by destroying Silicon Valley after setting off California's seismic faults! Only James Bond can stop such a dastardly scheme. There are set pieces involving the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge, and a very 80s Grace Jones as Zorin's hired violence. It was also Lois Maxwell's swan song as Moneypenny, and gave Duran Duran a #1 hit.
If you like the Warner Bros. B movies as much as I do, you'll be happy to know that Gambling on the High Seas is on this week, at 7:45 AM Friday on TCM. Wayne Morris plays Jim Carter, a hot-shot reporter for one of those big-city newspapers that are always showing up in these movies. The story he wants to get this time is that of the crooked gambling ship run by Morella (a young Gilbert Roland), who has been able to get away with fleecing the gamblers for a long time because his floating games are in international waters outside the territorial limit. Carter plans to go undercover to get the goods on Morella, which don't just include the gambling, but also a murder. To do that, he's going to have to enlist the help of Morella's secretary Laurie (Jane Wyman, who was a newlywed to Ronald Reagan at the time of the film's release), but it's also going to spell danger. It's got a brief 55 minute running time, but these Warner Bros. B movies always seem to entertain.
Directly up against Gambling on the High Seas is The Spoilers, at 7:45 AM Friday on StarzEncore Westerns, although it will also be on at 11:34 PM Friday. John Wayne plays Glennister, who has been mining gold with his partner Dextry (Harry Carey) during the Klondike gold rush. The latest boat to Nome brings a judge (Samuel S. Hinds) who is supposed to make the gold claims fully legal and recognized; also on the boat is the judge's niece Helen (Margaret Lindsay). There are complications. One is that Glennister seemingly falls in love with Helen, which makes saloon owner Cherry (Marlene Dietrich) none too happy, since she thought she was Glennister's girl. But a more pressing issue is that the judge is really in cahoots with a corrupt land office agent McNamara (Randolph Scott) to pull the original miners' claims right out from under them, forcing Cherry to work with Glennister, since Cherry has a share in the mine. This is based on a popular book and was turned into a movie multiple times, with this being the best known version.
We'll end this week with another interesting movie, None Shall Escape, at 8:00 PM Sunday on TCM. This one is set just after the end of World War II, which wouldn't be noteworthy, except that the movie was released in February 1944! Anyhow, in a Hollywood propaganda movie like this it's taken for granted that the Allies were going to beat the Nazis, and having done so, they set up a war crimes tribunal. On trial is the Nazi officer Wilhelm Grimm (Alexander Knox). Various witnesses testify about his life going back to the end of World War I, and explain how it is that he wound up becoming a Nazi, and not just any Nazi, but one who would be monstrous and high-ranking enough to commit the sort of crimes that would get him in the dock at a war crimes tribunal. Indeed he was so bad that among the people testifying against him (with the attendant flashback sequences) are his own brother (Erik Rolf) and his former fiancée (Marsha Hunt)!