Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of July 8-14, 2019. There's a lot interesting this week, starting with Star of the Month Glenn Ford, more from the spotlights on sci-fi and the films of 1939, and interesting stuff on a bunch of the other movie channels. And all of the movies are blessedly free from the nonsense that America's foodstuffs manufactures are deliberately trying to keep us fat and making a conspiracy of it. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Glenn Ford's turn as Star of the Month continues on Monday in prime time, continuing into the early hours of Tuesday morning with movies such as Young Man With Ideas, at 5:00 AM Tuesday. Ford plays Max Webster, a junior lawyer at a firm in Montana. His wife Julie (Ruth Roman) sees that he's a good lawyer, but needs some assertiveness training as the partners use his ideas. So when the partners reject his request for a promotion, Max takes the family out to Los Angeles, where he hopes to study for the notoriously difficult California bar exam. Of course, it's not going to be easy going, since Max can't work as a real lawyer yet. He meets fellow student Joyce (Nina Foch), who works at a collection agency and helps Max get a job there, something for which he's spectacularly unqualified. Meanwhile, back at home, Julie learns that the former occupants of the house were running a sports book out of the bungalow and all sorts of people are calling to make bets. Everything comes together, but will it result in an ethics violation for Max?
An 80s movie I don't think I've mentioned before is The Star Chamber, which is on MovieMax at 11:50 AM Tuesday. Michael Douglas plays Judge Hardin, an idealistic young judge in a big city who finds his idealism tested when particularly nasty defendants who are almost certainly guilty have to be released due to legal technicalities. However, a more senior judge, Ben Caulfield (Hal Holbrook) has a proposal for Hardin. Apparently a whole bunch of judges have created a secret “Star Chamber” that retries these “obviously” guilty people and then hires assassins to bump off those people. Heaven knows judges never get things wrong. As you can probably guess, after Hardin proposes a defendant for liquidation, police detective Lowes (Yaphet Kotto), who knows nothing about the secret tribunal, informs Hardin that new evidence has come to light that would have exonerated the defendant Hardin let off on a technicality, so Hardin should really have a clear conscience. Hardin tells the other judges, but they say there's nothing they can do.
The science fiction movies continue on TCM on Tuesday night, with a bunch from the golden age of the genre in the 1950s. Among them is George Pal's version of War of the Worlds, at 9:45 PM. Based on the story by H.G. Wells, this movie updates the action to early 1950s California, where a "meteorite" falls from the sky. Except, of course, that this is no ordinary meteorite, but an extraterrestrial spaceship with a couple of aliens inside. These aliens have frightening powers, such as being able to burn people to a crisp with a heat ray. They also seem to be invulnerable to the traditional weapons that mankind has at its disposal. But scientist Dr. Forrester (Gene Barry) investigates with help of the niece Sylvia (Ann Robinson) of the man who's billeting Forrester. There might be a way to outwit these aliens after all, and if you've never seen any version of the story, you'll be surprised at what it is. Of course, Sylvia and Forrester fall in love along the way.
During the summer, you could do far worse than to watch A Summer Place. It's going to be on again this week, at 3:30 PM Wednesday on TCM. The Hunters: alcoholic dad Bart (Arthur Kennedy), mom Sylvia (Dorothy McGuire), and teenaged son Johnny (Troy Donahue) live in a decaying mansion on an island just off the Maine coast, renting rooms to vacationers to make ends meet. One of this summer's guests is the Jorgenson family. Dad Ken (Richard Egan) had worked for Bart's dad two decades earlier, and now Ken is the rich one. But he's in a loveless marriage with Helen (Constance Ford), who is extremely controlling, especially of their teenage daughter Molly (Sandra Dee). Molly and Johnny meet and fall in love, which absolutely enrages her mom. Meanwhile, Sylvia remembers Ken from 20 years earlier, and they start an affair which ultimately results in each of them filing for a scandalous divorce. And Molly and Johnny's relationship only gets stronger as they feel they have just as much right to a relationship as the adults. It's a melodramatic potboiler, but it's a fun one.
A movie that sounds like it might have something to do with football, but doesn't, is The Star Packer, on StarzEncore Westerns at 6:25 AM Thursday. John Wayne plays US Marshal John Travers, who is looking for a gang leader know as the Shadow, Travers and his companion Yak (stuntman Yakima Canutt in a real acting role) eventually wind up in a town that needs a new sheriff, so Travers takes the job. This in part because of a nice young lady Anita (Verna Hillie) he's met. Anita's uncle Matt (Gabby Hayes in a surprising bad guy role) co-owns a ranch with Anita, but as is made abundantly clear since this is a Saturday matinee B western, Matt is actually the Shadow. Travers is going to figure this out soon enough too, and he and Yak will find the Shadow's hideout and save the day. Travers gets the girl at the end while Yak gets to keep being a sidekick. Nothing groundbreaking here, just simple 1930s entertainment.
TCM is spending Thursday night with a couple of films from Tab Hunter, the screen idol of the 50s whose homosexuality was more or less known but kept a secret, hence the "Natalie Wood and Tab wouldn't" line. Hunter would go on to a second act in movies like John Waters' Polyester with Divine, as well as Lust in the Dust, although TCM's features on Thursday night are the old 50s movies. However, the highlight of the evening is going to be the two airings of the documentary Tab Hunter Confidential, which kicks off the night at 8:00 PM and gets a second airing at 1:30 AM Friday for the benefit of those out on the west coast. Hunter himself, by this point in his mid 80s, narrates this portrait of his life as a closeted gay man in the 1950s studio system, as well some of his pursuits outside of the movies.
I said, "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?" And she said, "I think I remember the film." Now that we've got the terrible earworm out of the way, the movie will be on StarzEncore Classics at 6:12 AM Friday. Audrey Hepburn stars as Holly Golightly, a woman from the country now living in New York and leading a very complicated life. She's an escort of sorts, and also makes extra money by going up to Sing Sing to meet the gangster Sally Tomato and give him "the weather report". One morning while returning to her apartment she meets Paul Varjak (George Peppard), who has an equally complicated life. He's a writer suffering from writer's block who makes ends meet by entertaining his "decorator", Mrs. Failenson (Patricia Neal) from a neighboring apartment. The two start a friendship, helping each other through difficulties like Holly's estranged husband showing up or her trying to marry a series of wealthy men. Mickey Rooney has a badly-cast role as their Japanese-American landlord. The movie also has the memorable theme song "Moon River".
The 1939 movies continue on Friday. One that doesn't show up all that often is Idiot's Delight, at 10:00 AM Friday on TCM. Clark Gable plays Harry Van, a World War I veteran who after the war revived his vaudeville career leading a troupe of women in a tour through Europe. Now it's 1939, and World War II is coming, so borders are closing, meaning that Harry and his performers are temporarily stuck in a hotel where the war may come to them anyway. Among the people Harry meets at the hotel is Irene (Norma Shearer). Harry has a sneaking suspicion that he met her 20 years earlier in the States, but she denies it, now being in a relationship with French armaments manufacturer Weber (Edward Arnold) and claiming that she's a countess. Also stuck there is a pacifist (Burgess Meredith) who tries to escape before the borders are reopened. One of the interesting things about the movie is that it was released in January of 1939, seven months before World War II broke out in Europe, so nobody knew his the war was going to turn out and that America was going to get involved.
One of Tab Hunter's good friends, Robert Wagner, shows up for A Kiss Before Dying, which will be on TCM at 4:00 PM Saturday. Wagner plays Bud Corliss, a man who grew up poor and is trying to make something for himself by putting himself through college while still living with his mother (Mary Astor). At school, he meets Dorothy Kingship (Joanne Woodward). She's the daughter of a mining magnate (George Macready), so there's a good source of money. The two fall in love, but things hit a snag because they decide to have sex before getting married and, sure enough, that leads to Dorothy getting pregnant. Bud knows that Dorothy is going to be disowned if Daddy finds out, so he concocts a cunning plan to fake Dorothy's suicide. And it would have worked too if it weren't for those meddling kids, in this case Dorothy's younger sister Ellen (Virginia Leith), who suspects that something is not quite right with the official report on her sister's death. This movie shows that if Wagner had been given more serious roles, he really did have good acting chops.
I can't remember the last time I mentioned it, but Sweet Rosie O'Grady is back on the FXM lineup, at 7:10 AM Sunday. Betty Grable stars as Rosie, who is now Madge Marlowe, an American music-hall singer in 1880s London who has found herself a rich man to marry in the form of the Duke of Trippingham (Reginald Gardiner). They travel back to America, where Sam (Robert Young), the reporter for the tabloid Police Gazette is there to greet her. He knows that "Madge" was really Rosie back in her old American days, and a queen of burlesque, something which would certainly scandalize the duke far more than just marrying a music-hall singer. Madge, knowing her goose might be cooked, decides to turn the tables by announcing that she's going to be breaking off her relationship with the Duke and accepting Sam's proposal instead! Sam certainly doesn't love her at first, but you know that along the way the two are going to fall in love. If this all sounds familiar, it's because this is the second of three versions of the story Fox filmed, first as Love Is News and later as That Wonderful Urge.
Finally, I'll mention the sparkling comedy The More the Merrier, at 2:15 PM Sunday on TCM. Charles Coburn won an Oscar for his role as Benjamin Dingle, a wealthy businessman doing wartime business in Washington DC. With the war on, there's a severe housing shortage and his hotel room isn't ready for a couple of days. So he worms his way into the spacious apartment of Connie Milligan (Jean Arthur) who has rooms to let and a stuffy fiancé in Pendergast (Richard Gaines). Into all of this comes Joe Carter (Joel McCrea), an army man who is on some sort of secret business in Washington. You'd think that Dingle would have had friends in the city who would put him up for a night and that Joe could have been put up at a nearby military base, but Joe needs a place to stay too, so Dingle sublets half of the area that he rented from Connie. She's understandably ticked off at first, but Dingle realizes that she was meant for Joe, not for that drip Pendergast, so he schemes to have the right couple end up together.