Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” thread, for the week of June 26-July 2, 2017. We're in the last week of June, so this is your last chance to see Star of the Month Audrey Hepburn, as well as the last chance for the Friday night spotlight. Of course, there are good movies on other channels as well, and I've used my good taste and erudition to select a bunch of movies for you. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
We'll start off over this week over on StarzEncore Classics, with a movie from the 80s: Tank, at 1:13 AM and 9:42 AM. James Garner plays Zack Carey, a lifelong officer in the US Army who's just been stationed at a base in the south where he lives with his wife (Shirley Jones) and son Billy (C. Thomas Howell). Oh, and he also has his own tank, a World War II-era Sherman that he's restored. You'd think the army wouldn't allow that, but what do I know? One night he goes off base to get a drink, and at the bar he finds a man being really nasty to one of the barflies who's actually a prostitute (Jennilee Harrison). So Zack takes matters into his own hands and beats the guy, only to find out later the guy is also a sheriff's deputy. So the sheriff (G.D. Spradlin) is pissed, and being a corrupt mofo (what cop isn't?), the sheriff decides he's going to go after Zack's son and bring him in on trumped-up charges. Zack once again decides to take matters into his own hands, getting into the tank to bust Billy out of prison and to justice across state lines.
There's one more night of TCM Star of the Month Audrey Hepburn. That night kicks off with Paris – When It Sizzles, at 8:00 PM Monday. William Holden plays screenwriter Richard Benson, who has been hired by a movie producer (Noël Coward) to write the screenplay for a new movie. However, Richard has been spending the time on a bender in Paris, and when the producer contacts him to find out how he's progressing, Richard realizes he's only got two days to finish! So he hires a secretary Gabrielle (Audrey Hepburn) to has out ideas for the movie “The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower”. As Richard dictates ideas to Gabrielle, the idea play out on screen as fantasies, with the two playing the two main characters in the film-within-a-film, and the script veering wildly on a dime. Of course, Richard and Gabrielle fall in love along the way. Tony Curtis plays a love interest in the film-within-a-film, and Marlene Dietrich also has a cameo. This one sharply divides opinions, but it's not as bad as people make it out to be.
James Caan is in the TCM Spotlight on Tuesday night. The night concludes with Freebie and the Bean, at 4:00 AM Wednesday. Caan plays Freebie; the Bean is played by Alan Arkin. The two are a pair of San Francisco police detectives trying to fight organized crime. Their target is the elusive Red (Jack Kruschen), who is elusive mostly because he's got so much power it seems he's above the law. It looks like the cops may finally be getting the goods on Red, however. Of course, there's a catch. Apparently, there's now a hit out on Red from other mobsters, and it's up to Freebie and the Bean not to arrest Red just yet, but to make certain he stays alive and not killed by the hitman until after another mobster returns to San Francisco so both can be arrested since the cases intertwine. Along the way, the two also have to deal with their personal lives, particularly the Bean's suspicion that his wife (Valerie Harper) is banging the gardener. Oh, this is a buddy comedy, not quite a drama.
Gertrude Lawrence was a star of the stage in the first half of the last century, starring among others opposite Yul Brynner in The King and I. She made a few movies as well, most notably Rembrandt opposite Charles Laughton. Lawrence is also the subject of the biopic Star!, which will be on FXM Retro at 12:05 PM Saturday and 10:50 AM Sunday. Robert Wise had recently filmed Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and somebody thought teaming the two up again would be a good idea, so Andrews gets to play Lawrence in this long, long, long musical biopic. Lawrence apparently had complicated relationships with a whole bunch of men; the one with whom she had a good, lifelong friendship, however, was Noël Coward (Daniel Massey). She also always wanted to be the star, which caused a strained relationship with her daughter (Jenny Agutter). Andrews gives it all she's got, and boy is she energetic, but the movie winds up being a mess, in part because of its length and in part because of the bad script not mentioning The King and I among other things.
It's been a while since I've recommended The Most Dangerous Game, and it's always worth a watch. It's on TCM again at 1:00 PM Wednesday. Joel McCrea plays Robert, a crewman on a yacht that runs aground off a tropical island, leaving him the only survivor. Thankfully, people live on the island, notably Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks). Robert becomes the Count's guest, alongside the two other guests, a brother and sister Martin and Eve (Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray). The Count then points out that he engineered the shipwrecks so that he'd have people on the island and could engage in his favorite sport of game hunting. And humans have become his favorite game to hunt! The Count successfully hunts Martin, and then offers Robert a compromise: if you can avoid me for 12 hours, I'll let you go free. But you have to be bogged down with Eve. Of course, Robert and Eve fall in love along the way. It's based on the famous short story, and is quite good.
For another movie from the same time period, you could do worse than to watch No Marriage Ties, at 11:00 AM Thursday on TCM. Richard Dix plays Bruce, a sports writer who is supposed to be covering the big boxing match, but would rather go out drinking. His constant drinking gets him fired, and drunk at the bar where he's taken home by Peggy (Elizabeth Allan). She stays with Bruce, mainly because it turns out she has no place to go. And Bruce decides to let her live with him unattached, something that never would have been allowed in the movies a few years later. Anyhow, Peggy's nursing of Bruce allows him to get back on his feet and get into advertising. It's here that Bruce meets Adreinne (Doris Kenyon), who heads a formerly successful cosmetics firm that's now failing because it's not modernizing. Bruce's ideas can save the firm, but they're also unethical – apparently back then they thought admen actually had ethics. Bruce, of course, is just trying to romance the rich woman. But which woman is really the right one for him?
If you feel like makin' love, then watch the movie that started it all: Bad Company, on StarzEncore Westerns at 12:51 AM Thursday. (Don't confuse this 1972 western with later movies bearing the same title.) Barry Brown plays Drew, who at the start of the movie is a God-fearing young man in Ohio. The only problem is, it's the Civil War and he's opposed to fighting the war. So when army press gangs come, Drew dodges the draft and heads out west, winding up in Missouri where he meets Jake (Jeff Bridges). Jake is stealing food from a church and Drew thinks this is wrong, so he tries to stop Jake. What really happens is that Drew has to flee, and winds up falling in with Jake and his gang of bad company. However, these are young petty criminals, who don't yet realize just how cruel and harsh the frontier can be. Still, Drew tries to make his way west to the Nevada territory and the silver mines there. Meanwhile, the law is trying to catch up with them….
On Fridays in June, TCM has been spending the evenings on a European vacation, with films being mostly about Americans abroad. One of the most expansive of the movies is If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium, which will be on at 8:00 PM Friday. Ian McShane plays Charlie, a British tour guide who takes Americans on tours of Europe not just to make ends meet, but because like an airline pilot or navy man he's got a girl in every port. The Americans on the tour all have their own reasons for going. There's a couple with a teenaged daughter trying to get her away from her hippie boyfriend; a man (Norman Fell) whose wife somehow ends up on a different bus; a World War II veteran (Michael Constantine) who wants to see the places he spent the war in now that it's peacetime; and so on. There's also Sam (Suzanne Pleshette), who's on the tour to re-examine her relationship with her fiancé but who finds herself being pursued by Charlie. Oh, and there's lots of European location shooting.
For the next several weeks, Tina Fey will be Alec Baldwin's co-host on The Essentials on TCM. This week, she and Alec will be presenting The Lady Eve, at 8:00 PM Saturday. Henry Fonda plays Charles Pike, the heir to a beer company fortune who's been spending time studying herpetology in South America. On the boat home, Jean (Barbara Stanwyck) and her father the Colonel (Charles Coburn) see him and figure that since he's rich, he'll be an easy mark for them to fleece – they're con artists by nature. They fall in love, but when Charles finds out the truth about Jean, he dumps her. So she decides to get revenge by disguising herself as a noblewoman, and working her way back into Charles' arms that way, only to reveal the truth at the end. Needless to say, all sorts of complications ensue. This is one of Preston Sturges' wild comedies from the early 1940s, and Henry Fonda shows he really could have been adept at comedy had he been given more chances.
Finally, I'll mention Between Two Worlds, which will be on TCM at 8:00 AM Sunday. A bunch of passengers in a car in London are trying to escape a Nazi air raid, but it seems they're unsuccessful. But wait: they wind up trying to board a ship about to cross the Atlantic. However, all of them begin to realize that there's something not quite right going on, as they have vague memories of the recent past. One couple (Paul Henried and Eleanor Parker) are different however, as though they're not supposed to be on the ship at all. It turns out that the ship isn't really a ship at all, but a metaphor for purgatory, and the passengers are all waiting to find out their eternal fate. Edmund Gwenn plays the man whose job it is to inform the passengers where they are, and Sydney Greenstreet informs them of their fate. The passengers, who are archetypes more than real characters, are played by a bunch of Warner Bros. contract players, notably John Garfield as a newspaperman and Faye Emerson as a showgirl.