Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, Week of June 11-17, 2018

Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” Thread, for the week of June 11-17, 2018. It's the most important week of the year, as it's the week in which everybody celebrates Fedya's birthday. And what better way to celebrate than to watch a bunch of good old movies? There's another night of Star of the Month Leslie Howard on Monday in prime time, two more days of musicals if those are your thing, and Father's Day on Sunday. There are interesting movies all over the place this week. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.

 

One of this week's TCM Imports is That Man From Rio, which will be on at 4:00 AM Monday. Jean-Paul Belmondo plays Pvt. Adrien, who is on leave for a week and goes back to Paris to see his girlfriend Agnès (Françoise Dorléac). She's the daughter of a murdered archaeologist who owned a priceless Amazonian artifact and was murdered by people who tried to get that. They've stolen a similar artifact from a Paris museum. And then they show up at Agnès' apartment to get her because they think she knows where Dad kept the artifact! They kidnap her and take her to Brazil, and Adrien follows, even though he's only got a couple of days to find his girlfriend and find out why people are going after these artifacts since he has to get back from the end of his leave. The plot takes Adrien to Rio, Brasilia, and then the Amazon rain forest in a thoroughly entertaining story. The cinematography even makes the concrete jungle of Brasilia look good.

 

FXM Retro is showing a movie I haven't recommended recently: Madison Avenue, at 6:00 AM Monday. Dana Andrews plays Clint Lorimer, who gets himself fired from a New York ad agency. He goes to Washington DC where he finds a PR firm run by Anne Tremaine (Eleanor Parker). The firm isn't doing too well, but Clint thinks he knows just what's right for the firm. He finds a small dairy run by Harvey Ames (Eddie Albert), and plans to big up the company based on the owner's eccentric personality. Along the way he uses both Anne and his former girlfriend, reporter Peggy (Jeanne Crain) in his scheme, but things start to go sideways when Ames decides he's going to get political ambitions and has ideas that aren't exactly conducive to political stability. It's an interesting idea, but this sort of stuff had been explored to death in the 1950s and by the time the film was released in 1962, it all seemed a bit old-fashioned.

 

The “Mad About Musicals” spotlight continues on TCM on Tuesday, including yet another Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland pairing: Strike Up the Band, at midnight Wednesday (ie. 11:00 PM Tuesday LFT). Mickey plays Jimmy Connors, not a snotty tennis player but the drummer in his high school band. They do your typical high school band stuff, but he likes jazz, and wants to take a bunch of his classmates in the band and turn them into a jazz combo, complete with girlfriend Mary (Judy Garland) as the band's singer. The ultimate aim is to get the band an audition as part of a radio contest run by bandleader Paul Whiteman, who was the king of jazz for white people at the time, having helped launch the careers of people like Glenn Miller. But they're going to need to raise money to get to that contest, and once again all sorts of personal problems get in the way. But dammit, they're going to put on that show for Whiteman!

 

I'm not certain if I've recommended Christine before. It's going to be on multiple times this week, including at 4:30 AM Wednesday on Showtime Extreme. Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is a nerdy high school kid at the bottom of the pecking order in his high school. And then he discovers an old red 1958 Plymouth Fury which is in need of some restoration. It could make a nice classic car, so Arnie decides to buy it and start restoring it. This gives him some confidence, but it frightens his friends and classmates, because the confidence quickly morphs into arrogance. It turns out that the car, nicknamed “Christine”, seems to have a personality of its own and Arnie is taking on the car's personality. Worse, the car likes its new owner and wants to protect him the way it protected itself during its original iteration. To that end, Christine is willing to destroy anybody who tries to get in between it and Arnie. Based on the book by Stephen King.

 

A movie I have recommended before, but not in a while, is River of No Return, airing at 10:59 AM Wendesday on StarzEncore Westerns. Robert Mitchum plays Matt Calder, who has just gotten out of prison for shooting a man in the back, although Matt was stopping that man from shooting another guy. Anyhow, Matt and his son Mark (Tommy Rettig) are going to go farm the land so Dad can start his life anew. The farm abuts a river, and one day, down the river in a raft come Harry Weston (Rory Calhoun) and his wife saloon singer-wife Kay (Marilyn Monroe). Harry is looking to stake a claim to gold and has to get to town to do it, but is going to have to repair his raft first. Harry steals Matt's horse leaving his wife behind so he can get to town more quickly, and when it looks like the Indians are going to attack, Matt, his son, and Kay realize that they're going to have to try to escape on the raft, African Queen style. As you can guess, the two begin to fall in love along the way.

 

“Mad About Musicals” is also on Thursdays, and one of the fun musicals TCM is showing that day is You Were Never Lovelier, at 2:00 PM. The Acuñas, led by patriarch Eduardo (Adolphe Menjou) are one of those Latin families with the tradition that the daughters marry in order of birth (there's a similar plot point in Like Water For Chocolate, as you may recall). Anyhow, the eldest unmarried daughter is Maria (Rita Hayworth), and her indifference toward marriage is pissing off the younger sisters. So Dad is creating a mystery man to send letters and flowers to Maria, although it's really Dad writing the letters. Into this walks American dancer Robert (Fred Astaire), looking for a job as the entertainment in the ballroom at the hotel Mr. Acuña owns. Robert meets Maria and doesn't care for her, but then Dad gets the idea of having Robert play the personification of the mystery man and Maria falls in love with Robert. All sorts of complications ensue, and Astaire and Hayworth get to dance two big numbers together. Rita was quite the dance partner for Fred.

 

Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is going to be on Starz Encore Classics at 4:13 PM Friday. Clint Eastwood plays Thunderbolt who at the start of the movie is a phony preacher with a past. Two old confidants who know that past spot him, forcing him to make a quick escape, during which he runs into Lightfoot (Jeff Bridges). Lightfoot is a con artist, and when he learns about Thunderbolt's past, he begins to look at Thunderbolt as a sort of father fighter. Thunderbolt had led a daring bank robbery some years back, but thinkgs went wrong, Thunderbolt could never get at the money, and the other guys in the robbery think Thunderbolt double-crossed them to get them in jail and recover the money for himself. Ultimately Thunderbolt and Lightfoot are going to have to convince the other members of Thunderbolt's old gang that he didn't double-cross them, and that they're going to have to organize a second bank robbery to get the money. Among the confidants are George Kennedy, Gary Busey, and Geoffrey Lewis.

 

Next up, at 11:45 PM Friday on TCM, is Night of the Generals. This one starts off in Warsaw in 1942, so if you know your history you should realize that this is during the Nazi occupation of Poland. A prostitute is killed, and the only thing recognizable about the killer as he flees is that he's a general. Still, Major Grau (Omar Sharif) is brought in to investigate discreetly since, after all, the case involves a general. The investigation reveals that there are three generals who are suspects since they don't have an alibi: Tanz (Peter O'Toole), Kahlenberge (Donald Pleasance), and General von Seidlitz-Gabler (Charles Gray). It's just as much a political case as a legal case, and as Grau gets close, he gets transferred to Paris. The four men's paths cross again in Paris in the run up to the 1944 attempt on Hitler's life which involves at least one of them, and finally in 1965 Hamburg there's another chance to solve the case, although you'd think Nazis this high ranking would have been blacklisted.

 

Sunday is Father's Day. A different sort of Father's Day movie is Raising Cain, which will be on StarzEncore Suspense at 5:04 AM Sunday. John Lithgow plays Dr. Carter, a brilliant child psychologist married to oncologist Jenny (Lolita Davidovich) and raising a young daughter. However, Jenny has been having an affair with Jack (Steven Bauer), and when Carter finds about it, boy does he plan revenge! Menawhile, he's taking more and more of an interest in their daughter, to the point where Jenny gets worried about it. Meanwhile, a string of disappearances starts, and to what extent all of this is related is an open question. It turns out that Dr. Carter's father was also a child psychologist, but did unethical experiments on children that seemed designed to turn them into mentally twisted people with multiple personalities, and that Dr. Carter himself is one of those kids that grew up with multiple personalities.

 

For a more conventional Father's Day, you'll want to tune in to TCM. You can probably guess some of the usual suspects that are showing up on the day. Upbeat movies like Father of the Bride (noon Sunday), The Courtship of Eddie's Father (8:00 PM), and Life With Father (10:15 PM) are a substantial part of the day's schedule, but there's also more downbeat stuff like Too Much, Too Soon (7:45 AM), about John Barrymore's (played by Errol Flynn who also had a well-known drinking problem) alcoholism and his being reunited after a long absence with his daughter Diana (Dorothy Malone).

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