Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of June 10-16, 2019. It's the most important week of the year, when everyone celebrates the birthday of Fedya, who shares a birthday with Oscar-winning actor Burl Ives (who sadly does not get a birthday tribute this year). There's also Father's Day on Sunday which brings suitable programming, as well as more from Star of the Month Jane Powell and interesting stuff on the other movie channels as well. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Those of you who enjoy noir may enjoy our first selection, Impact, at 6:00 AM Monday on TCM. Brian Donlevy plays Walter Williams, a businessman married to Irene (Helen Walker). What he doesn't know is that she's seeing another man, and when she asks Walter to give that man a ride under the ruse of his being her husband, the other man tries to kill Walter. Walter escapes injured, while the other man drives the car into an accident that leaves him burned beyond recognition. So the authorities figure Walter was murdered, and try Irene on conspiracy to kill him. Walter, who survived, winds up in a small town in Idaho, where he's more or less in hiding waiting for Irene to get sent to the gas chamber. But he falls in love with Marsha (Ella Raines), the woman he's working for, and she suggests he return home and tell the truth. He does it out of love, only to find when he gets home that the authorities want to put him on trial for his supposed part in the killing of the other man! Charles Coburn plays the detective investigating the case.
A search of the site suggests that it's been over three years since I recommended I Wake Up Screaming. So, since it's back on FXM this week at 3:10 AM Tuesday, I'll mention it now. Victor Mature plays Frankie Christopher, a promoter in New York who is under fire from the police, in the form of dogged detective Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar). Christopher had discovered Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis), a woman who had come from the small town to make it big but could only get work as a waitress, at least until Frankie discovered her. But Vicky got big enough to go to Hollywood on her own, leading to her getting murdered and Frankie being the obvious suspect because of his jealousy. Vicky's sister Jill (Betty Grable) has come for a visit and doesn't like Frankie at first, but she begins to believe that Frankie might in fact be innocent, and decides to do a little investigating of her own. And just why is Cornell so obsessed with this case. This is one of Hollywood's earliest noirs, with excellent photography and a good supporting cast.
I'm glad to see that The Little Fugitive is back on the TCM schedule, at 1:30 PM Wednesday. Lennie and Joey are young brothers living in Brooklyn with their single mother. Lennie has plans to go to Coney Island with his friends, but Mom nixes that when she tells the two brothers that Grandma fell ill and she has to look after her, so Lennie is going to have to look after Joey. Lennie and his friends play a mean trick on Joey by making him think he shot Lennie, who of course is only faking. Joey being young and impressionable, takes things literally, and in order to avoid justice, runs away – to Coney Island. Poor Lennie doesn't know what to do when he gets back to the apartment and doesn't find Joey. Joey, for his part, likes Coney Island at first, but what is he going to do when night falls? And what's Mom going to do when she gets home? This was an independent movie made on a shoestring budget, but the end result is a naturalistic and utterly charming movie.
Wednesday night on TCM brings the second night in the salute to Star of the Month Jane Powell. Probably her best-remembered movie is Royal Wedding, which kicks off the evening at 8:00 PM. Powell plays the sister of Fred Astaire, two American dancers who wind up getting a job in England around the time of the wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Philip. This is the one that has Astaire's famous dance on the ceiling with a vacuum cleaner:
This movie was released before George VI died and Elizabeth became Queen; it's hard to believe that she's still reigning and Prince Philip is still alive. Later in the night at 10:00 PM there's Two Weeks With Love, which is probably better remembered today for the performance of a young Debbie Reynolds singing this awful song:
An 80s movie that I think I haven't mentioned here before is *batteries not included, which will be on at 1:27 AM Thursday on StarzEncore Family. Real-life couple Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy play Frank and Faye Riley, a couple living in a New York apartment building. Developers have bought all the land around the building and are trying to get the tenants out of this one because it's the last building they need for their new, modern development. When the Fayes and a couple of other tenants still won't sell out, the developer sends in thugs to break things to convince everybody. But then things start to happen. A lot of the broken stuff gets fixed, and Faye claims it's from UFOs, which nobody believes at first because Faye is in the early stages of dementia. But then, the little beings, which the tenants dub the Fix-Its, start helping the tenants in other ways, and maybe they'll be able to stay in the building after all.
One of the June spotlights on TCM is World War II movies. Among them is the interestingly cast The Sea Chase, at 8:15 AM Friday. John Wayne plays a German, Captain Ehrlich, who runs a freighter that on Sept. 1, 1939, is in Sydney, Australia. When news hits that the war has broken out, Ehrlich has to get his ship out of port before the Allies can impound it and its cargo. Not that Ehrlich particularly supports the Nazis, of course. Probably the closest neutral port is Valparaiso in Chile, so Ehrlich sets out there with the British in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, Ehrlich has several people on board he'd rather not have but must courtesy of the Nazis. One is a spy with a past, Elsa Keller (Lana Turner, who comes across as about as German as John Wayne); another is Nazi first officer Kirchner (Lyle Bettger) whose zeal eventually causes him to commit an atrocity that puts Ehrlich's ship in even bigger danger. The casting may be all wrong, but the movie is still fairly entertaining.
In addition to a movie from the 80s, I've got one from the 90s this week: Fargo, at 10:00 AM Friday on StarzEncore Classics. William H. Macy plays Jerry Lundegaard, a failing car salesman at his father-in-law's (Harve Presnell) dealership in Minneapolis. He's embezzled money from the firm, and to pay it back he comes up with a scheme to hire some thugs (one played by Steve Buscemi) to kidnap his wife and hold her for ransom. The two kidnappers take Mrs. Lundegaard up north, but around Brainerd they get pulled over by a cop, eventually resulting in one of the thugs shooting the cop dead. This brings local police chief and pregnant wife Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) into the case. She investigates and finds a lot more than she bargained for, including more murders, one of which is rather grisly. McDormand won an Oscar for her role which memorably has her speaking in an exaggerated Minnesoda accent, and the material was turned into a cable TV series a few years back.
French director Agnès Varda died earlier this year. It's nice to see that this week's TCM Essential is Varda's La Pointe Courte, at 8:00 PM Saturday. This is more or less two movies in one. Half of the movie deals with a man (Philippe Noiret) who has returned to his home town on the Mediterranean coast to contemplate the state of his marriage, with his wife (Silvia Monfort) eventually joining him. That's the boring half, as it's talky French New Wave stuff. The other, much better half, deals with the day-to-day life of the people in this fishing village. They're dirt poor, and have to deal with the fact that the health department doesn't want them to fish in their traditional fishing spot. All the while, they face all sorts of hardships. The two halves come together in the best scene, when the lovers go to watch one of the town's summer highlights, the annual boat jousting festival. That, by the way, is a real thing, as other than the two lovers, Varda used local non-actors to make the story.
I haven't mentioned a western yet, so this week's selection is Red Sundown, on StarzEncore Westerns at 4:35 AM Saturday. Rory Calhoun plays Alex Longmire, a gunfighter who has vowed to change his way of life after another gunfighter saves his life during a shootout. When Alex rides into town, he meets the local Sheriff Murphy (Dean Jagger) who needs a new deputy and, since Alex is in need of a job and is handy with a gun, he takes on the deputy's job. He even falls in love with the sheriff's daughter Caroline (Martha Hyer). But you know there's going to be a catch. As in a lot of these towns in westerns, there's a range war going on with one big landowner Rufus Henshaw (Robert Middleton) who wants to keep the land open for grazing, and the incoming settlers wanting to farm. Henshaw can't let that happen, so he hires a gunman Chet (Grant Williams) to strike fear in the hearts of the settlers. Alex is going to have to deal with that aspect of his past, as well as a woman from his past.
This weeks Noir Alley selection is Pickup on South Street, at 10:00 AM Sunday on TCM. Richard Widmark plays Skip McCoy, a pickpocket who plies his trade on the New York trains and who lives in a shack on a pier. One day he picks the pocketbook of Candy (Jean Peters), and doesn't get all that much, or so he thinks. An FBI agent was following Candy because it turns out she was carrying some microfilm that her boyfriend Joey (Richard Kiley) was trying to get to the Soviets. Police informant Moe (Thelma Ritter) identifies Skip which leads the cops to investigate him, leading him to figure he's got something big that somebody wants. Frankly, he'd like to hold out for money or even immunity from prosecution. Meanwhile, Candy is trying to find Skip too so she can get the microfilm back. Along the way, she falls in love with Skip, but she also tips off Joey to poor Moe. Skip finally is goaded into action when Joey decides to go after Candy. A pretty darn good movie in its own right made even better by Thelma Ritter's performance.
Sunday is also Father's Day, so other than Pickup on South Street, all of TCM's offerings are suitable for the day. Interestingly, it's not just feel-good stuff. Oh, there is some of that, such as The Courtship of Eddie's Father at 3:30 PM, in which little Ronny Howard sets up his widowed father (Glenn Ford) with the nurse next door (Shirley Jones); or Life With Father at 8:00 PM, in which 19th century father William Powell raises his four sons.
But there's some less sappy-happy stuff, such as East of Eden at 1:15 PM, or the even unhappier Edward, My Son at 8:00 AM, with Spencer Tracy as a man who spoiled his son rotten and is now paying the price for it.