Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of August 19-25, 2019. The Packers are continuing to learn how to tackle, but we fans don't need to spend our time learning such stuff. Instead, we just have to wait for the real games to begin. A good way to spend that time is to sit back with some good movies, and once again I've selected a bunch of interesting stuff for all of you. There's seven new names in TCM's Summer Under the Stars, as well as stuff on some of the other movie channels. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Monday's star on TCM is Buster Keaton, whose silent movies are masterpieces but unfortunately saw his career go south when he signed with MGM at the dawn of the sound era. There's a new documentary about Buster at 8:00 PM, which will be followed at 10:00 PM by The General. Keaton plays Johnny, a train engineer in the US south circa 1860 running a train called the General. From the date you can tell the Civil War is about to start, and when it does, Johnny tries to enlist However, the authorities decide that he's more needed in the war effort in his engineer's job. This leads everybody, including his girlfriend Annabel Lee (Marion Mack) to think he's a coward. However, he's able to get a shot at redemption when Union forces try to steal his train and take it north, and it's up to him to stop it. (Surprising at it may seem, a Confederate is indeed the hero in this movie.) It leads to a frenetic chase and stunning climax, filmed using locations out in rural Oregon since that's where he was able to find suitable rolling stock. It's all loosely based on a real incident.
A western I think I haven't recommended before is Frenchie. It's going to be on this week, at 10:53 AM Monday on StarzEncore Westerns. Based loosely on some of the characters in Destry Rides Again, the movie stars Shelley Winters as Frenchie, a woman who made her name in New Orleans but is now returning to her home town of Bottleneck to open a saloon. Of course, the real reason she's back in town is because her father was murdered many years before, and she wants to bring his killers to justice. Also returning is Tom Banning (Joel McCrea), who is going to be the town's new sheriff. He had left some time back because his old girlfriend Diane (Marie Windsor) left him to marry the town's banker Clyde (John Emery). He wants to keep gambling out of the town which outs him at odds with Frenchie, but it turns out they also have a common goal regarding her father's murder. Watch also for Elsa Lanchester as Frenchie's business associate, and for a cat fight between Winters and Windsor.
On Tuesday, we get 24 hours of the movies of Dorothy McGuire on TCM. Out of the movies showing, I'll mention A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which you can see at 10:15 PM Tuesday. McGuire plays Katie Nolan, the mother in a family living in a tenement in New York City circa 1900. She's got a husband Johnny (James Dunn) who works as a singing waiter, or at least he does when he's not too drunk to work, which is way too often. There are also two kids, including the daughter Francie (Peggy Ann Garner), a bright little moppet who has a knack for writing. If only she could get a suitable education, which is difficult considering that the family never has any money to help her out. A cast of great actors playing stock characters rounds out the movie, with Joan Blondell as Katie's sister who has a past with a bunch of “husbands”; Lloyd Nolan as a stereotypical Irish-American cop; and James Gleason as a local barber. Dunn, who had worked with Shirley Temple and who frittered his own career through drinking, won an Oscar for his performance.
I mentioned Joel McCrea earlier, and it turns out that he's the star of the day on TCM for Wednesday. This would be a good opportunity to point out that Dead End is on as part of his day, at 11:30 AM. McCrea plays Dave, an architect in another of the tenement slums of New York. He's got a girl he loves in Drina (Sylvia Sidney), but she can't help him pay the bills, so he vacillates between her and Kay (Wendy Barrie). Returning is a former friend of Dave's, "Baby Face" Martin (Humphrey Bogart) who escaped by becoming a gangster, which basically scuppered Dave's friendship with him. Baby Face is home to see Ma (Marjorie Main) and his old girlfriend Francey (Claire Trevor), who turned to prostitution and got a VD as a result. Meanwhile, all the younger boys in the area (who would become the Dead End Kids, who morphed into the East Side Boys and then the Bowery Boys) idolize Baby Face, much to the consternation of Dave and Drina. One of the boys is Drina's kid brother Tommy (Billy Halop).
I know how much you all enjoy the 80s movies, so this week I'll mention that among those you can catch is Next of Kin, at 6:10 PM Wednesday on Cinemax. Patrick Swayze plays Truman Gates, who left his home in Appalachia to become a cop in Chicago, something that doesn't sit will with his brother Briar (Liam Neeson), even more so considering that Truman got another brother Gerald (Bill Paxton) to come to Chicago too. Unfortunately Gerald's job as a trucker puts him in the line of fire of the Mob. The boss' son (Ben Stiller) and an enforcer (Adam Baldwin) are struggling over who will become the new boss, and Gerald gets killed as a result. Truman as a cop will investigate, although he has to stay within the bounds of the law (yeah, try to keep a straight face). Briar is pissed, and wants to avenge his dead brother, so he shows up looking to do a little "investigating" of his own. But that may make things more dangerous for everybody. A young Helen Hunt plays Swayze's wife.
I should probably briefly mention Thursday's honoree for Summer Under the Stars, 1930s actress Leila Hyams. Her best known role is probably in the movie Freaks, which will be on at 8:00 PM. But she also has roles as Chester Morris' first wife in Red-Headed Woman (6:30 PM), and as Robert Montgomery's sister in The Big House (12:15 AM Friday, which is still late evening Thursday out in Lambeauland).
Friday on TCM means 24 hours of the films of Fred Astaire. You know all the famous one with Ginger Rogers, so I'll mention on of the lesser movies: Three Little Words, which will be on at 2:00 PM Friday. Astaire plays Bert Kalmar, who at the start of the movie is a song and dance man on the vaudeville stage. But he gets an injury that prevents him from dancing, so he has to find another line of work, eventually becoming a lyricist. He has the great good fortune to meet composer Harry Ruby (Red Skelton), and it leads to a highly successful professional partnership as well as a friendship. Harry convinces Bert to marry Jessie Brown (Vera-Ellen), who had been Bert's dance partner back in vaudeville. Gloria DeHaven plays her real-life mother, and Debbie Reynolds has a bit part. Among the songs Kalmar and Ruby wrote are "I Want to Be Loved By You" and "Who's Sorry Now", the latter of which is most famous from the late 50s rendition by Connie Francis.
Lynn Anderson died four years ago, but you may recall her singing, "I beg your pardon/I never promised you a rose garden." That second line, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, became the name for a successful book turned into a movie, and that movie is airing at 7:55 AM Friday on MoreMax. Kathleen Quinlan plays Deborah, a teenage girl who has a rich fantasy life, having come up with an entire fantasy world all her own. This failure to distinguish between fantasy and reality disturbs her parents, and eventually Deborah attempts suicide, which leads to her being put in a mental institution. (The movie was made shortly after the success of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which is probably how it got made.) She's diagnosed with probable schizophrenia brought on by the trauma from her treatment as a much younger child for urethral cancer, and being in a mental hospital doesn't seem to help her situation much -- who wouldn't turn to fantasy to escape the horrors of a mental hospital. It's up to Dr. Fried (Bibi Andersson) to bring Deborah out of her shell. Watch for a lot of famous names in the supporting cast, from veterans like Sylvia Sidney late in her career to newcomers like Mel Gibson.
On Saturday, it's your chance to watch Shirley MacLaine over and over on TCM. Of the movies that TCM is showing, one that I don't think I've ever recommended before is Woman Times Seven, which will be on at 9:30 AM Saturday. This is an anthology movie starring MacLaine in seven different roles, all of which have her playing different sorts of women who find themselves facing tough situations in their marriages. This means that not every story necessarily works, but wait 10 minutes and you're going to get another story you might like more. Also, it means that Shirley gets to act opposite a whole bunch of great actors, both American and European since the movie was directed in France by Italian great Vittorio De Sica. Among the male co-stars are in rough order, Peter Sellers, Rossano Brazzi, Vittorio Gassman, Lex Barker, Alan Arkin, Michael Caine, and Philippe Noiret. Anita Ekberg is also on hand for the final segment.
For those of you who want a silly comedy, you could do a lot worse than to watch The Money Pit, which will be on StarzEncore Classics a couple of times this week, at 12:35 PM Monday and 1:00 PM Sunday. Tom Hanks plays Walter, an attorney living with girlfriend, classical musician Anna (Shelley Long). They've been living in her and her ex-husband Max's (Alexander Godunov) place, but he's returning from Europe. They need to find a new house, and when elderly Estelle (Maureen Stapleton) is selling her big house for cheap claiming she needs the money fast, they jump at the chance. Of course, the real reason Estelle is selling the house is dilapidated and literally falling apart, something the young lovers only find out after they've bought the place. (They should have hired somebody to inspect it first.) They start to repair it, but things seem to fall down faster than they can put up replacements, and the contractors are fleecing them for every cent they can get. Sure, it's an extended one-joke movie, but anybody who's done home renovations can get the joke.
Finally, on Sunday, we get a day full of the films of Dustin Hoffman on TCM. The one I'll mention is Marathon Man, which you can see at 10:00 PM Sunday. Hoffman plays Babe Levy, a Ph.D. candidate in New York who gets involved in international intrigue through no fault of his own. It turns out that his brother Doc (Roy Scheider) is an intelligence officer investigating the case of Dr. Szell (Laurence Olivier). Szell was a Nazi concentration camp doctor, stealing diamonds from the Jews and hiding them away in New York. Szell can't trust his couriers anymore, so he's trying to kill them, and that Doc is among the people in danger. After Doc does indeed get stabbed to death, Doc's boss Janeway (William Devane) then tries to get Babe to get the diamonds from Szell, but perhaps Janeway can't be trusted either. This is the movie that has Olivier performing dental torture on Hoffman, with the apocryphal story of Olivier telling Hoffman there's a reason they call it acting.