Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, Week of April 15-21, 2019

Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of April 15-21, 2019.  If you didn't do your taxes yet, you're screwed, and I can understand wanting to watch a bunch of good movies instead of dealing with taxes.  I've selected another batch of interesting movies that I know you'll all like, both on TCM and other channels.  As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.

 

Katharine Hepburn made a very good western late in her career in Rooster Cogburn, but she had one much earlier in her career in The Sea of Grass, which TCM will be running at noon on Monday. Hepburn plays Lutie Cameron, a woman from St. Louis who meets New Mexico cattleman Jim Brewton (Spencer Tracy) and quickly falls in love with him. The two get married and go to New Mexico to live on Brewton's giant spread, he using thousands if not millions of acres to feed his cattle. Of course, with the Homestead Act there are pioneers moving west to get their free government land if they can farm it. Brewton, understandably, doesn't like this as it threatens his livelihood, and is willing to go to rather extreme measures to keep the farmers from fencing off all the land. Lutie finds that she doesn't like this and is siding with the homesteaders, which causes difficulties for their marriage. To be honest, this is as much a soap opera set in the old west as it is a western.

 

There's a pair of Michael Powell movies on TCM overnight between Monday and Tuesday, starting with A Matter of Life and Death at 2:00 AM Tuesday.  David Niven plays Peter, a British pilot whose plane gets shot down near the end of World War II.  His final radio communication is with American radio woman June (Kim Hunter), before Peter jumps to his death.  Except that instead of dying, Peter wakes up on the beach.  He makes his way into town, where he meets June in the flesh.  However, he was supposed to die, and the only reason he didn't is because the "conductor" who was supposed to take him to heaven (Marius Goring) lost him in the fog.  Peter and June fall in love, but the Conductor insists that since it was Peter's time, he must follow the Conductor to Heaven. Peter says it wasn't his fault that the Conductor screwed up, sister and June should have a chance at life.  A trial is held in Heaven to determine what should happen.  One of the interesting things about the movie is that the heavenly scenes are in black and white, while is the scenes on Earth that are in color.

 

An interesting pairing of stars show up in City Heat, which you'll be able to see at 9:04 AM Tuesday on StarzEncore Classics.  Those are Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood.  Burt plays Murphy, a private detective in 1933 Kansas City, a time when the city was one of the organized crime capitals of the Midwest.  As with Sam Spade, Murphy suffers having his partner Dehl (Richard Roundtree) be murdered when said partner obtains accounting books that will mean trouble for one of the gangs.  Dehl is helping Pitt (Rip Torn) in his fight with gang leader Coll (Tony LoBianco) but it gets Dehl killed.  Then police detective Speer (that's Clint Eastwood) starts investigating.  Speer and Murphy are going to have to team up, which presents problems of its own.  The two had been partners when Murphy was on the police force, but they didn't get along at all.  The movie was not successful for several reasons, partly because of a clash between Eastwood and original director Blake Edwards, and partly because it was in theaters at the same time as Beverly Hills Cop.

 

A movie that may sound familiar to you is Escape from Crime, at 6:00 AM Tuesday on TCM.  Richard Travis plays Red, a man who has just gotten out of jail an is in need of a job when he finds his estranged wife Molly (Julie Bishop) got pregnant just before he went into prison.  He happens to be in the right place at the right time when he takes some photos at the scene of a bank robbery and the press wants to use them.  It ultimately leads to a job as part of the paparazzi for a tabloid newspaper.  Red, having been a criminal, knows a whole bunch of tricks to get the pictures for the story, although some of the methods may be less than kosher, as when he gets pictures from an execution.  There's also the problem that the bank robbery that got him the job was pulled off by his old gang.  If this slick little B movie (it's only 50-some minutes) sounds familiar, it's because the movie is a remake of the 1933 James Cagney film Picture Snatcher.

 

FXM has been running the movie Rapture recently, and apparently I haven't mentioned it yet.  It's going to be on again this week, at 1:15 PM Tuesday.  In Brittany, retired judge Frederick (Melvyn Douglas) has a daughter Agnès (Patricia Gozzi) who is likely mildly retarded in that she's' extremely immature.  She makes a scarecrow, and a few days later, criminal Joseph (Dean Stockwell) escapes during transport and hides out in an outbuilding at Frederick's place, wearing the scarecrow's clothes leading Agnès to claim the scarecrow has come to life.  As she and the housekeeper tend to him, she begins to fall in love with him, and the feeling is mutual, except that Joseph knows he can't really escape with an anchor like Agnès around.  Still, the two flee together, trying to make a life on the edge of society.  It's an attempt that's destined to fail tragically.  It's an international production with a fair amount of location shooting that would probably look even nicer had they filmed in color.

 

Another movie about a rancher in New Mexico is The Stalking Moon, on TCM at 4:15 AM Thursday.  Gregory Peck plays the rancher this time, a man named Sam Varner who is a retired cavalry scout.  He needs a housekeeper, so he takes on Sarah (Eva Marie Saint) , a woman who had recently been rescued from the Apache, and so is in need of a job herself.  She's got a son, but this is where the problems come in.  The son is mixed-race, having an Apache father.  As you can guess, Dad isn't happy having lost his son, and he'd like the son back.  And this is the sort of dad who will stop at nothing to get his kid back, including killing anybody preventing him from his goal.  (The boy is played by 10-year-old Noland Clay in his only film role, so probably to young to make up his own mind.)  So Sam and Sarah are both in great danger.  Robert Forster plays Nick, another mixed-race man who sides with Sam against the Apache.

 

For those of you who like those B westerns, there's another interesting one this week in The Last of the Fast Guns, which you can see at 4:06 AM Thursday on StarzEncore Westerns, or sadly up against our previous movie.  Jock Mahoney plays Brad Ellison, a gunfighter who is approached by wealthy but elderly John Forbes (Carl Benton Reid).  Forbes is dying, and has a brother Edward who is probably somewhere in Mexico, having gone there for adventure.  Forbes would like that money to go to Edward, instead of a crooked business partner back east.  So John wants to hire Brad to go into Mexico and find Edward.  It seems like a straightforward enough task, but of course it isn't.  He arrives at the O'Reilly (Lorne Greene) ranch, and meets gold hunter Miles (Gilbert Roland).  After Brad saves Miles' life, the two go off together in search of Edward.  Everybody's heard of Edward and has stories about him, yet nobody seems to be able to tell Brad where Edward actually is.  And people seem to want to get Brad, too.  Why?

 

For those of you who like more recent movies, I've got one that's only a quarter century old: Legends of the Fall, at 8:30 AM Friday on Showtime (and several other times on various channels in the Showtime family).  In the early part of the 20th century out in Montana, Col. Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) is the patriarch of a family with three sons: common-sense Alfred (Aidan Quinn); passionate Tristan (Brad Pitt), and idealistic Sam (Henry Thomas).  Dad became anti-war after having befriended one of the natives, and raised his sons out west to teach them the ways of the west, doing it alone after his wife left him.  Into all this comes a woman, Susannah (Julia Ormond), and each of the sons falls for her.  And then comes 1914, which for those of you who remember your history means the start of World War I.  Tristan runs off to Canada to join the war since the US isn't part of it yet, and in spite of Dad's thoughts on war.  Alfred and Sam try to stop him, but eventually follow.  It has a major effect on all of them.

 

It's time for another showing of Picnic at Hanging Rock, which TCM is running at 6:00 PM Friday.  It's Valentine's Day in 1900, and at Miss Appleyard's (Rachel Roberts) boarding school for girls in a rural part of the state of Victoria, they're planning for a special excursion to the park at Hanging Rock, known for its large rock formation.  Sara (Margaret Nelson) doesn't get to go, since her guardian is behind on tuition payments.  At the outing, four of the students and one of the teachers decide to go for a climb up the rock formation even though they're advised not to.  They probably shouldn't have, since only one returns, with her clothing torn and her having little memory of what happened up on the rock.  Various people go looking for the missing young women, but no trace of them is found.  Sara seems to know something about one of the missing, while Miss Appleyard is desperate that the incident not bring bad publicity to her struggling school.

 

For something very different, our next movie is Cotton Comes to Harlem, at 3:49 AM Saturday on StarzEncore Classics.  Godfrey Cambridge and Raymond St. Jacques play "Grave Digger" Jones and "Coffin" Johnson respectively, a pair of New York cops  on duty together in Harlem.  They're there to provide security for the gathering of Rev. O'Malley (Calvin Lockhart), who is trying to sell the locals on a "back to Africa" trip and whom the cops don't like because they just know he's defrauding the poor people of Harlem.  And then a bunch of armed thugs come in and steal the money that Rev. O'Malley was raising, hiding it in a bale of cotton that gets stolen.  There are a whole bunch of suspects, from the reverend himself to white gangsters and everybody in between, and it's up to Grave Digger and Coffin to find who did it while chasing everybody around Harlem.  Redd Foxx shows up, just before Sanford and Son, as another junk dealer.  One of the earlier blaxploitation movies, directed by Ossie Davis.

 

Sunday is Easter, so TCM is unsurprisingly running a bunch of movies suitable for the holiday.  Some of them are secular, such as Easter Parade at 8:00 PM; others are contemporary but with obvious religious themes, such as Fredric March's Methodist minister in One Foot in Heaven at 8:00 AM.  Still others actually deal with Jesus and the aftermath of his death, like the 1961 version of The King of Kings at 10:00 PM, or Barabbas (2:30 PM), in which Anthony Quinn plays the titular thief who was pardoned when the Romans needed to free up a cross on which to crucify Jesus.

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