Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of August 12-18, 2019. Summer Under the Stars continues on TCM with seven more stars, all of whom have movies worth watching. But there's still interesting stuff on the other movie channels as well. Real football returns this week as the Bundesliga season begins on Friday, but there's still time for good movies. And we hope that DeShone Kizer will have a lot of time to watch good movies soon, too. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Ann Sothern is being honored on Monday, and one of her movies that I haven't recommended before is Shadow on the Wall, which TCM is showing at 5:00 PM. Zachary Scott plays businessman David Starrling, who returns home from a business trip to find that his wife Celia (Kristine Miller) is having an affair with the boyfriend of her sister Dell (that's Ann Sothern)! Since Dell and her boyfriend are coming over for dinner, David decides to confront the two lovers, which creates quite the scene. David and Celia get in an argument afterwards, and Dell actually comes back and, in a scuffle with Celia, shoots her dead. She doesn't realize that there was a witness though, that being David and Celia's daughter Susan (Gigi Perreau). Thankfully for Dell, Susan has been so traumatized by what she saw that she's blocked it out of her memory. Since all the evidence points to David, Dell lets him take the rap for it. Meanwhile, Susan is in a psychiatric hospital being helped by Dr. Canford (Nancy Davis before she married Ronald Reagan). Dell begins to realize she has to get rid of the evidence. It's a rare dramatic role for Sothern, and she does well here.
We've got a bunch of remakes on this week. Two of them are showing up on StarzEncore Classics early in the week, starting with the 1995 version of Village of the Damned, at 10:38 PM Monday. The final film Christopher Reeve made before the horse riding accident that left him paralyzed, this one is the story of an alien force that impregnates all the women in a small village and leaves them with children having strange and deadly psychic powers they use to force the adults to harm themselves if they don't do the kids' bidding.
The other remake is the 2003 version of Willard, which you can see at 10:43 AM Tuesday. Crispin Glover stars in the title role, if you can call the human the star. He's in a lonely life with a widowed mother in a decaying house and a boss who treats him like dirt. His only solace is the rats that he's been training. He starts using those rats to turn the tables on the people who have been making his life hell, but he's about to find events spiraling out of control.
Tuesday's selection on TCM is the actor Brian Donlevy. One of his movies that I don't think I've ever mentioned before is The Beginning or the End, which will be on at 1:00 PM. This odd little movie is presented as having been preserved for the people of 500 years in the future so that they could know about the development of the atomic bomb. Enrico Fermi (Joseph Calleia) has discovered the first nuclear chain reaction, and when World War II starts in Europe, it's obvious that Hitler is going to use that knowledge to weaponize chain reactions. So scientists and the military, including General Groves (Donlevy) convince president Roosevelt to authorize American research into nuclear weaponry to beat the Nazis to the punch, and end the war quickly. Hume Cronyn plays Robert Oppenheimer. There was some cooperation from the military in making this movie, but you have to wonder how much of that was to control what classified material would remain secret.
For those of you who like those 80s movies, this week you're getting Say Anything..., at 5:31 AM Tuesday on Starz Edge. John Cusack plays Lloyd Dobler, an Army brat who's returned to the US to finish high school, living with his sister (Joan Cusack in an uncredited role). Lloyd is a middling student who doesn't quite know what he wants to do with his life after school, so he decides he's going to dare and ask the class valedictorian and all-round "most likely to succeed" type Diane (Ione Skye) on a date to a graduation party. It's a refreshing change for Diane, who for once doesn't feel any of the pressure to fit that role of being the always successful one, something that her father James (John Mahoney) has more or less groomed her for. As Lloyd and Diane continue to see each other before Diane heads off to England in the fall on a scholarship, her dad begins to think that having Lloyd around might keep Diane from achieving all the goals he's set out for his daughter. And Dad's success is about to come into question too....
On Wednesday, we get a full 24 hours of Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann, who was actually born in Japan. There's a documentary about her collaboration with Ingmar Bergman at 8:00 PM, but the movie I'll mention isn't a Bergman film: The Abdication, at 10:15 AM. Ullmann plays Queen Christina of Sweden, who as you may recall from the Garbo movie abdicated the throne in 1654 to become a Catholic. Because of the delicate political situation, the Catholic Church wasn't certain if Christina's conversion was genuine. So they appoint Cardinal Azzolino (Peter Finch) to question Christina and determine if her faith is what she really claims it is. Along the way, the two begin to develop some sort of feelings for each other, which is a big problem since the Catholic clergy is supposed to be celibate. And other clergy notice something's going on. Meanwhile, as Christina discusses her upbringing to Azzolino, she has flashbacks to her childhood, here being shown as being raised almost like a boy since the regent Oxenstierna (Cyril Cusack) believes that's what's necessary to be a strong monarch in these difficult times.
Moving ahead to Thursday, you'll be able to watch an entire day of Rod Steiger movies. One that hasn't shown up in a long time is The Big Knife, which is airing at 12:30 AM Friday. Jack Palance plays Charles Castle, an actor who has been the biggest star for producer Stanley Hoff (Rod Steiger). Charles' contract is coming up, and he's not certain whether he should re-sign. One issue is that his wife Marion (Ida Lupino) isn't so thrilled with her husband being a star, wanting a more normal life. Charles, for his part, would like to do more "serious" pictures. But Hoff wants to keep Charles under contract, since Charles is his biggest star. Fortunately for Stanley, Charles has a past, and Stanley decides that he has no compunction about using that past to blackmail Charles into signing a new contract. This is very much an over-the-top melodrama, based on a play by Clifford Odets, and boy do Palance and Steiger milk it for all it's worth.
A movie that returned to the FXM rotation recently is Journey to the Center of the Earth. It's going to be on again this week, at 12:45 PM Thursday. James Mason plays Sir Oliver Lindenbrook, a Scottish professor circa 1880 whose research had led him to an Icelander from a few centuries previously who claimed to have discovered caverns leading deeper into the earth than anybody else ever saw. Sir Oliver mentions this to a Swedish colleague Göteborg, who takes the information and heads off to Iceland to beat Sir Oliver to the punch and take the scientific glory for himself. So Sir Oliver takes one of his students, Alex (Pat Boone, who was there for the younger set despite how square he's considered now); and Alex's fiancée and Oliver's niece Jenny (Diane Baker) and heads to Iceland. After the Icelanders kill Göteborg, Sir Oliver is forced to bring along the man's widow (Arlene Dahl) on the expedition. What they find is fascinating, but also dangerous at times. This is based on the novel by Jules Verne.
I mentioned earlier that I was going to be talking about remakes a fair amount, and that makes Friday's star on TCM worth mentioning: Irene Dunne. She was in the 1936 version of Show Boat, based on a popular musical that has already been made into a movie once before at the dawn of the sound era; it would be remade again in the early 1950s. Show Boat will be on at noon Friday.
Later in the afternoon, at 4:00 PM, there's the 1939 version of Love Affair, that old chestnut about two people who meet on a transatlantic cruise and fall in love with each other, even though they're both engaged to other people. The agree to meet some months later, but tragedy prevents that from happening. The movie was famously remade in the late 1950s as An Affair to Remember, and somewhat less memorably in the 1990s, with Katharine Hepburn making her final movie appearance as the grandmother.
Continuing with the remakes this week, there's the 1966 version of Stagecoach. This one is going to be on StarzEncore Westerns at 6:04 AM Saturday. Based on the classic 1939 western, this one gets the update of color (which was probably cost-prohibitive for the 1939 version) and wide-screen cinematography which didn't really exist back in the 30s. The Ringo Kid (Alex Cord) is an outlaw gunslinger on his way to meet justice, in a stagecoach with a cast of stock characters: the drunk doctor (Bing Crosby); the saloon girl, who is looking to make a new start (Ann-Margret); the marshal taking Ringo to his destination (Van Heflin); the man of the cloth (Red Buttons); and a couple of others. Of course, the stagecoach encounters problems along the way, including an attack by the Sioux, which gives those passengers with problems a chance to redeem themselves. And then after all that, the Ringo Kid still has to face a challenge in the form of a gunfight with his enemies the Plummers when he gets to his destination.
Back at TCM, Saturday means a day full of Errol Flynn movies. A good example of his swashbuckling ways can be seen in The Sea Hawk, at 11:45 AM. Flynn plays Geoffrey Thorpe, a privateer working for Queen Elizabeth I in the 1580s. If you remember your English history, that's the decade that saw the Spanish Armada try to invade England, and one of the ships Thorpe loots just happens to be carrying the Spanish ambassador (Claude Rains) and his half-English niece Doña Maria (Brenda Marshall). To smooth matters over, Elizabeth sends Thorpe to the Caribbean, while a traitor in Her Majesty's midst plots to have Thorpe captured. He and his men become galley slaves but revolt. Can they make it back to England in time to warn Elizabeth about Spain's plans? Meanwhile, Thorpe falls in love with Maria at their first meeting, and you know she's eventually going to fall in love with him and show her loyalty to England in the climax. The movie has an interesting sepia-toned sequence for the scenes in Spanish Panama,
Finally, on Sunday, it's time to relax with the films of Audrey Hepburn. It's been a while since I've mentioned The Children's Hour, which will be on at 12:30 PM Sunday on TCM. Hepburn plays Karen Wright, who has been running a school for girls together with her best friend Martha (Shirley MacLaine). A couple of things are about to come between them. First is that Karen is engaged to be married to the local doctor, Joe Cardin (James Garner). More worryingly, one of their students, Mary, has gone and blabbed to her grandma Mrs. Tilford (Fay Bainter) the false claim that she saw the two teachers engaging in a lesbian relationship after misconstruing something she heard Martha's aunt Lily (Miriam Hopkins) say. Mary's rumor causes the parents to remove their children from the school with the two teachers responding by suing for slander. It threatens to destroy the school, as well as Karen's relationships with both Martha and Joe. It's based on a Lillian Hellman play that had been filmed in the 1930s (with the rumor involving heterosexual adultery) that had Hopkins playing one of the teachers.