Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” thread, for the week of April 16-22, 2018. I know it's mid-April, but some of you are still snowed in, while posters like Blair Kiel are probably struggling with 55 degree weather. So why not stay inside and watch some good movies. As you all know, I always recommend stuff that I know you'll all find interesting. There's more from Star of the Month William Holden, some interesting adaptations, and more. As usual, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Monday night on TCM brings another night of William Holden's movies. One that I'm not certain I've recommended before is Father Is a Bachelor, which comes up at 4:00 AM Tuesday. Holden plays Johnny, working in the medicine-show racket at the turn of the century alongside “Professor” Ford (Charles Winninger). When the scam is found out, Ford is arrested, but Johnny was able to escape because he had been performing in blackface! He winds up at an isolated cabin, only to find that there are already five people living there. The only thing is, those five are children, who have been orphaned with both of their parents dead. The kids don't want anybody to know, since that would mean the family would be split up which they don't want. So Johnny becomes a sort of foster father. He knows they need a mother, though, and the one woman who would be the right mother for them is the town's schoolteacher Prudence (Coleen Gray). The only thing is, she's the one person the kids most don't want to have find out they're orphans. Holden does some songs here, although his voice is dubbed.
I know I've recommended the early Joel McCrea movie Bird of Paradise before. It was remade in 1951, also titled Bird of Paradise, and that version is going to be on FXM Retro at 4:00 AM Monday. Jeff Chandler had already played Cochise, so why not have him play Polynesian? He's Tenga, a Polynesian who went to college in the West and roomed with André (Louis Jourdan). André decides to visit Tenga in Tenga's homeland, and there he finds Tenga's gorgeous sister Kalua (Debra Paget, who is about as convincingly Polynesian as Jeff Chandler). She's so beautiful that André decides to go native and marry her. And they lived happily ever after… or did they? First off, André is unable to knock Kalua up; who knows which of the two had the biological problem. And something as minor is that is about to matter even less when the island's volcano erupts. The island's shaman Kahuna gets the brilliant idea that the best way to deal with an erupting volcano is through human sacrifice. And why not sacrifice Kalua, since she's without child?
Tuesday night's TCM prime time lineup is a bunch of Peggy Cummins performances, including The Late George Apley at 1:30 AM Wednesday. George Apley (Ronald Colman) is a Boston Brahmin circa 1910, living a very “proper” life with wife Catherine (Edna Best), son John (Richard Ney), and daughter Ellie (Cummins). Part of the “proper” life involves making certain the children marry the proper people in Boston society, which for George means marrying his son off to a distant cousin. John, of course, has more modern ideas that you should love the person you marry. So does Ellie, who has fallen in love with a Harvard professor (mildly shocking) from… New York City! As if this is supposed to be scandalous. Worse is that John has fallen in love with the daughter of a mechanic, which is bad enough, but the girl's family is from Worcester! The material is frankly preposterous, but the acting is all quite good and overcomes the story.
We've got more Michael Curtiz movies on Wednesday. One that I'm not certain I've recommended before is The Unsuspected, at noon. Claude Rains plays Victor Grandison nicknamed Grandy, who has become wealthy as the host of a radio show chronicling true crime. He's also the guardian to two of his nieces. One weekend at his niece Matilda's mansion up in Westchester, niece Althea (Audrey Totter) is talking on the phone to Grandy, who suddenly screams. She's found hanging from the chandelier, a suicide. And then news comes that Matilda has perished in a ship disaster in the middle of the Atlantic. Further complicating matters is that a man named Steven shows up claiming that he was married to Matilda, and looking to claim the inheritance. Of course, it doesn't look as if there's going to be an inheritance when Matilda herself shows up, the reports of her death having been greatly exaggerated. And she claims to have no idea who Steven is. So what's really going on and is Matilda in danger?
For those of you who like recent movies, I'll mention Bio-Dome, which will be on StarzEncore Classics at 7:04 AM Thursday. Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin play Bud and Doyle, two losers who get dumped by their girlfriends. Trying to get over it, they stop at what they think is a new mall to take a bathroom break, and find that it's not a mall at all, but something known as the Bio-Dome. Four scientists are planning to lock themselves in the building for a year for an experiment on closed ecosystems and how man affects them. Unfortunately, Bud and Doyle have gotten themselves locked in, too! It's far worse than that, however. The experiment was planned with an ecosystem of exactly four human beings. Bud and Doyle bring the number to six, which totally screws up the equilibrium of the experiment and puts everybody in danger. (The real-life Biosphere 2, which was the inspiration for this movie, failed because the designers didn't take into account how the oxygen levels would drop.) Bud and Doyle have to help set things right.
Thursday night brings the latest round of movies looking at the Victorian era to TCM, this time with the theme on romance. What better a love story than Great Expectations, at 8:00 PM? John Mills plays Pip, an orphan being raised by a blacksmith and his nasty wife, who meets two interesting people. One is the escaped convict Abel Magwitch (Finlay Currie); the other Miss Havisham (Martita Hunt), a spinster who introduces him to Estella (Jean Simmons plays young Estella; Valerie Hobson adult Estella). Then Pip gets a secret benefactor whose gift will enable Pip to study in London and live a comfortable life not having to go into blacksmithery. He figures that it's Havisham who provided for him, but Havisham and Estella have other ideas for him. And why focus on that meeting with Magwitch anyway? This is of course based on the Charles Dickens novel which most of us probably read back in high school, and directed by David Lean at the beginning of his directorial career.
I know you all like westerns, so one I'll recommend this week is Frontier Gal, at 4:42 AM Friday on StarzEncore Westerns. Yvonne De Carlo plays Lorena, a saloon singer who gets married to outlaw cowboy Johnny (Rod Cameron). Since he's an outlaw, the law nabs him, but not before he's able to consummate the marriage and knock up Lorena. Several years pass, and Johnny returns looking to make amends to his wife, and the six-year-old daughter he didn't know he had. However, it's not going to be that easy. First, Lorena doesn't love Johnny any more, and thinks he'd be a bad influence on the daughter because of his troubles with the law. (You'd think she could have filed for divorce while he was in prison.) The other problem for Johnny is that there's a gang out there led by Blackie (Sheldon Leonard) who's had it in for Johnny, and now that he out of prison and they learn about his wife and kid, they've got a perfect way to get at Johnny.
The Prisoner of Second Avenue is going to be on again this week, at 6:15 PM Saturday on TCM. Set in New York in the era just before the famous headline about President Ford telling the city to drop dead, the movie stars Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft as Mel and Edna, a middle class couple living in the falling-apart Manhattan of the era, where everything that can go wrong does. The air conditioning is on the fritz, the elevator breaks down, they've got irritating neighbors they can hear through the walls, and so on. And then Mel gets laid off from his job what with a recession going on. And to top it all off, their apartment is robbed one day! It's all enough to drive poor Mel to a nervous breakdown. Mel's brother, living a comfortable life out in the suburbs, and Mel's two sisters try to help, but they only seem to be making things worse. Will Mel be able to cope with life again? I personally find this one of the lesser movies based on a Neil Simon play, but there are a lot of people who love it.
I think I mentioned back in March that TCM's Noir Alley is now on twice, at midnight Sunday (ie. 11:00 PM Saturday LFT), and at the previous time of 10:00 AM Sunday. This week's selection is Cry Danger. Dick Powell plays Rocky, a man who has spent five years in prison with his friend Danny for an armed robbery/homicide that they insist they didn't commit. Sure enough, the key witness Delong (Richard Erdman) who could exonerate him, has just retunred from abroad after a five-year hitch in the Marines and his testimony gets Rocky out of prison. Rocky wants to find out who really did it, but that's not going to be easy. First, there's the cop Cobb (Regis Toomey) who is still convinced that Rocky and Danny are guilty. Then there's Danny's wife Nancy (Rhonda Fleming), who doesn't seem very concerned about whether Danny gets out of prison. Finally there's Castro, a bookie who Rocky thinks owes him money, and who might have something to do with the heist that put Rocky in prison all those years ago.