Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo"s thread, for the week of August 21-27, 2017. If you're sick and tired of hearing about that eclipse, why not think about some good movies instead? It also beats being stuck in a hotel in a craphole like Leominster, MA. Anyhow, I've used my good taste once again to select a bunch of movies I know you'll all enjoy. And as always, all times are in Eastern unless otherwise mentioned.
Ann Harding is the star of the day for Monday on TCM. It's been a while since TCM has run The Conquerors, but it will be on this Monday at 9:00 AM. Harding plays Caroline, daughter in a wealthy family in the early 1870s who eventually marries Roger (Richard Dix) after a stock market crash and moves west. The couple eventually settles in Nebraska after a series of tribulations. There, Roger founds a bank to help the settlers, and the couple rises over the next 50 years through thick and thin, up until the stock market crash of 1929. The movie shares some of the main themes of Cimarron, which Dix was in two years earlier, but runs an hour less and stands on its own. Edna May Oliver and Guy Kibbee shine, unsurprisingly, in their supporting roles of the Blakes, a doctor and his wife.
Those of you who like Randolph Scott westerners will be happy to see the return of A Lawless Street, Tuesday at 1:48 AM on StarzEncore Westerns. Scott plays Marshal Ware, who is the most honest guy in Medicine Bend. The saloonkeepers find that the Marshal's honesty is cutting into business, so they decide to hire a gunman (Michael Pate) to do it. Ware is used to this as he's had to kill a lot of people who were gunning for him, and quite frankly he's reached the point where he'd just like to settle down. Complicating matters is the fact that a new opera house is opening, and one of the entertainers brought in is Tally (Angela Lansbury). This is a complication because Tally used to be in love with Ware, but decided to leave him because she got tired of the gunfighter thing before he did. It may be odd to think of Angela Lansbury in a western, but she had already done one in The Harvey Girls, although to fair that was also a musical comedy.
Tuesday's star is Glenn Ford. I think I've already recommended all of the movies TCM is running on Tuesday, but I think the one that shows up the least is Human Desire, which will be on at 9:00 AM. Ford plays Jeff Warren, who's returned home from Korea to work at his job as a train engineer. In one of the rail yards, Jeff meets Carl (Broderick Crawford) who has just lost his job in part because of his instability and drinking. So Carl gets his wife Vicki (Gloria Grahame) to try to get his job back. But he gets jealous thinking that she's trying to seduce his boss, and he winds up killing the guy on a train. Jeff runs across Vicki and learns after the fact what's happened. Unfortunately, he's fallen in love with her, so he helps keep the secret. Not a good idea. This is a remake of one of the earliest of the French noirs, La bête humaine, although they didn't call it film noir back in 1938.
Laurel and Hardy didn't have much luck after leaving Hal Roach for Fox. They got cast into lesser stuff such as Great Guns, which FXM Retro will be showing at 7:15 AM Wednesday. Stan and Ollie play a butler and chauffeur to Dan (Dick Nelson), a spoiled rich young man with aunts who dote on him, since they think he's terribly sickly. Dan gets drafted into the army, and wouldn't you know it, the army decides that he's fit to serve! So Stan and Ollie follow him into the army to try to keep him safe, and mayhem predictably ensues. There's also a romantic subplot involving the young man and his sergeant being attracted to the same woman. If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, it's because earlier in the same year (1941), Abbott and Costello had had a big hit in Buck Privates, and the suits at Fox decided that making a similar movie for Laurel and Hardy would be just the thing.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, TCM is giving us a day of Greer Garson. Not my favorite, but I know some of you like her. One of her movies TCM doesn't show so often for whatever reason is Adventure, which will be on at 3:15 PM. This one is odd in that Garson is co-starred with Clark Gable, an unlikely screen couple. That's probably because Gable had just returned from World War II, and was immediately put into this project playing Harry, a captain in the merchant marine who's seen his share of tragedy in the war. When he gets back to San Francisco, he meets Helen (Joan Blondell) and her roommate, stuffy librarian Emily (that's Greer). Emily and Harry couldn't be further apart, so their hostility is natural, and you'd think Harry would be better off with Helen. But then Emily and Harry begin to fall in love. Thomas Mitchell plays Harry's drunk, philosophizing sailor friend.
Thursday brings 24 hours of Dennis Morgan to TCM. He was often paired with Jack Carson, as in It's a Great Feeling, Thursday at 4:30 PM. Carson plays himself, more or less, with this iteration being a schmoozing but not very good actor who's going to do his next movie with Dennis Morgan (Morgan playing a spoof of himself here). The problem is that Carson has a reputation so none of Warner Bros.' actresses want to work with him. He's in luck, though, when he meets newcomer Judy (Doris Day) in the commissary. He hires her to be his new star on Morgan's insistence, but the producers aren't sure. All sorts of complications ensue. This one is notable for the fact that Warner Bros. used a whole bunch of its stars in cameos spoofing their screen images, as well as directors (which makes it nice to put some faces to names). The movie as a whole isn't bad, but the cameos are a highlight.
On Friday it's a day of the films of Simone Signoret. One of the most brutal to watch is The Confession, Saturday at 12:30 AM. Signoret plays Lise, the wife of Gerard (Yves Montand), who is an official in the Czechoslovak Communist Party in the early 1950s. It's a tough time, as there is a purge going on, and Gerard gets caught up in it, abducted by guys in a dark sedan one day and taken God knows where. Of course, it's a prison, and the whole point of the torture is to get him to confess. As for Lise, she and the kids are taken from their villa, and Lose is forced to work in a factory. Eventually everybody but Gerard confesses to make-up crimes about collaborating with the West during the war, with Gerard ultimately confessing too. It's based on the true story of Artur London, who wound up emigrating to the West with his wife, but idiotically remaining a Communist. And then the Prague Spring comes. It's an excellent movie, made by Costa-Gavras right after Z, but it's a tough watch because of the torture scenes.
We get a bunch of James Cagney movies on TCM on Saturday, and one of the most fun ones is The Bride Came COD, Saturday at 4:15 PM. Cagney plays Steve, a pilot who is hired by wealthy Mr. Winfield (Eugene Pallette) to basically kidnap his daughter Joan (Bette Davis) and bring her from California to Texas to prevent her from eloping with bandleader Alan (Jack Carson again). Of course, Joan doesn't like the idea, so she resists, eventually sending the plane into a spin and forcing a crash landing in the desert somewhere near the California-Nevada border. Thankfully, they're not too far from a ghost town with one resident, a prospector (Harry Davenport). While the two are stranded, they wind up falling in love, although neither of them really want to admit it. Cagney shows he could be really adept at comedy, and Bette Davis looks like she's having a blast taking time away from all those serious women's movies she'd been making.
Finally, on Sunday we get a bunch of Leslie Caron movies on TCM. It's been a while since I've recommended Father Goose, which comes on Sunday at 5:45 PM. Cary Grant plays Walker, a drunken beachcomber who would like nothing more than to sail around on his boat in the South Pacific. Except that this is World War II, making that impossible. British officer Houghton (Trevor Howard) impresses upon Walker the idea of doing his part by becoming a spotter of Japanese planes. Walker does this only because he really has no other choice, but when the chance comes to rescue a possible replacement, he jumps at it. Unfortunately, he rescues Catherine (Leslie Caron), a very proper governess. And she's got a bunch of young girls in her charge. Of course Catherine doesn't like Walker at first since he's a drunk and she tries to reform him. But equally unsurprisingly, the two wind up falling in love. But what will happen if the Japanese come?