Welcome to another edition of Fedya’s “Movies to Tivo” Thread, for the week of June 7-13, 2021. There’s not much new going on in the world of sports, so as always that gives you a good chance to cacth up with some old movies, although the oldest this week are only from the 1940s which isn’t that old at all. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Monday marks the birth anniversary of Dino Paul Crocetti, better known as Dean Martin. So TCM is running several of his movies on Monday morning and afternoon, including Some Came Running at 3:00 PM. Frank Sinatta is the star here, as Dave Hirsh, a man from a small Indiana town who left to fight in World War II and eventually became a writer. He's heading back to his hometown, together with Ginnie (Shirley MacLaine), whom he met in Chicago and who, having fallen in love with him, is following him back home. Except that what was once home for Dave is no longer home, as his older brother Frank (Arthur Kennedy) became quite successful locally and some folks see Dave's characters as based on them. Dean Martin plays Bama Dillert, a heavy drinker and professional gambler who really needs to quit his drinking since he's been diagnosed with diabetes. Meanwhile, Ginnie's previous boyfriend, the gangster Lanchak, has figured out where Ginnie is, and has come down from Chicago to bring her back regardless of what her feelings are.
Among this week's offerings over at StarzEncore Westerns, I don't think I've mentioned Taggart before. It'll be on at 1:38 AM Monday. Tony Young plays Kent Taggart, son in a family of ranchers settling in an area that already has a big boss, Ben Blazer (Emile Meyer). So Blazer has a group of men ambush the Taggarts, killing the cattle and Kent's parents, but Kent kills Blazer's son in the gunfight in what's self-defense. Unsurprisingly, Ben doesn't like this, so he brings in a hired killer, Jay Jason (Dan Duryea), to track down and kill Kent. Kent flees and finds the Starks, led by patriarch Dick Foran, who's got a gold mine that looks like it's about to pay off. But Jason is only one of the complications. The gold mine is also on Apache land, and in what is also a lack of surprise, the Apaches also want to attack the Starks. Based on a Louis L'Amour novel, it's predictable enough but not as bad as its B movie provenance might have you think.
Errol Flynn didn't get to do enough comedy in his career. He wasn't bad in it, as can be seen in Never Say Goodbye, on TCM at 10:45 AM Tuesday. Flynn plays Phil Gayley, an artist who draws swimsuit models. He married one of the models, Ellen (Eleanor Parker), and had a daughter Flip (Patti Brady) with her, but Ellen's mom (Lucile Watson) thought Phil was cheating on Ellen with the other models, so Phil and Ellen got a divorce, with each of them getting six months' custody of Flip, an arrangement that Flip doesn't like one bit. In fact, she'd like her parents to get married again. In fact the divorced couple still love each other, but can't bring themselves to admit to the other that they were wrong, and Ellen's mom is trying to get Ellen to marry her attorney. This being right around the end of World War II, Flip has been corresponding with a US Marine named Lonkowski (Forrest Tucker), and decides to employ his help to get her parents back together, by sending a photo of Mom as the person Lonkowski has been corresponding with. Needless to say, complications ensue.
For those of you who like watching the car crashes on TV known as NASCAR, you might enjoy the movie Days of Thunder, on StarzEncore Classics at 3:53 PM Wednesday. Tom Cruise plays Cole Trickle, a racecar driver in the Indy Car series who unfortunately loses his ride and is in need of a new team and sponsor. Tim Daland (Randy Quaid) is a team owner in need of a driver. But, he’s got a team in NASCAR, which has rather different cars and racing than the open-wheeled Indy cars. Harry Hogge (Robert Duvall) gets brought out of retirement to be the crew chief, and they all live happily ever after. Yeah, right. There’s a romantic entanglement with brain surgeon Dr. Lewicki (Nicole Kidman) as well as a rival on the track in the form of Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes). But to be honest, the reason you watch a movie like this isn’t for the plot, but for the action scenes of the racing, which NASCAR fans should enjoy.
TCM is doing some propaganda this month by having four teachers be Guest Programmers, with their choices airing every Wednesday in prime time. One of this week's selections is Singin' in the Rain, at 10:15 PM Wednesday. (It'll also be on next week as part of the Star of the Month salute to Cyd Charisse.) Gene Kelly plays Don Lockwood, a silent film star who gets paired with the queen of the lot, Lina Lamont (Jean Hagen). However, talking pictures are coming, and Lina has a voice not suitable for the movies at all. Meanwhile, star-struck kid Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) has come to Hollywood and run into Lockwood; the two eventually fall in love. When the latest Lockwood/Lamont movie, their first talkie, goes into previews, the audience ridicules it for Lina's voice and the poor production values. Don's best friend, Cosmo Brown (Donald O'Connor), comes up with a brilliant idea, which is to have Kathy dub all of Lina's lines in order to save the movie. But of course, the ruse is going to be found out. Charisse and her legs show up in one long cadenza, while the songs were all recycled by producer Arthur Freed from things he wrote for earlier movies (he was a lyricist).
For those of you who like more recent movies, you could do a lot worse than to watch Florence Foster Jenkins, at 2:55 PM Friday on Epix2. Based on a true story, the movie stars Meryl Streep as Jenkins, a child prodigy on the piano who unfortunately got syphilis from her first husband and now, in the 1940s, has to support the arts in other ways. One of those is singing, performing at very carefully curated concertsto which her common-law husband St. Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant) invites a very select list of guests with no critics. The reason for this is that Florence can't carry a tune to save her life, as auditioning accompanists like Cosme McMoon (Simon Helberg) discover to their horror. One weekend when St. Clair is away visiting his mistress, what does Florence do? She goes and books Carnegie Hall for what she expects to be her triumphant big performance, since nobody's ever told her the truth about her singing. Not only that, but this again being World War II, she wants to donate a bunch of tickets to servicemen on leave.
The juvenile delinquent movies continue on TCM on Thursday night into Friday. One of the lesser seen movies is Bad Boy, at 7:15 AM Friday. Audie Murphy, in his first starring role, plays Danny Lester, the titular bad boy who, instead of getting sent to the traditional state reform school or even prison, is sentenced to the Variety Ranch (run by the children's charity Variety), where the headmaster is Marshall Brown (Lloyd Nolan), who is in charge together with his wife Maud (Jane Wyatt) and enforcers like the Chief (James Gleason). The goal of the Variety Ranch is to give all these young men useful skills to be able to make a living in a trade of some sort, but Danny seems immune to Marshall Brown's help, continuing to get into trouble to the point that he might have to go to jail for real. It's clear to Brown that Danny has some more deep-seated problem, but can Brown figure out what it is and get Danny help before the police and legal system have had enough. Not exactly a prestige movie, but a bunch of professional supporting actors all give their best and make this eminently watchable.
One of the movies that's just returned to the FXM rotation is The Detective. Your chance to catch it this week is at 8:20 AM Saturday. Frank Sinatra plays Joe Leland, a New York police detective with an estranged wife in Karen (Lee Remick). Joe gets called in on a murder case that clearly has homosexual overtones, informing us that the victim's penis was cut off(!). The investigation ultimately leads to hoodlum Felix (Tony Musante), who is tried, convicted, and executed. But then Colin MacIver (William Windom) jumps to his death from the rooftop at Aqueduct. Colin's widow Norma (Jacqueline Bisset) insists that it was actually a murder, and so Joe investigates. Joe begins to discover that perhaps Felix wasn't quite so guilty, and that there's a huge conspiracy going on involving some of the highest-ranking officials in the city; they obviously don't want Joe to make all the connections. Ralph Meeker plays a cop trying to stop Leland, while Jack Klugman plays a “good” cop and Leland's buddy who helps him.
Another movie that it’s been a while since I’ve recommended is Time After Time. It’ll be on this week at 2:00 AM Sunday on TCM. Malcom McDowell plays H.G. Wells, the science fiction writer who wrote stuff like The Time Machine. In this movie, however, he believes he’s actually invented a real working time machine, and shows it off to some of his friends, including Dr. John Stevenson (David Warner). The police believe that John is Jack the Ripper, so they come looking for him, but he gets into the time machine and escapes. However, due to the way Wells designed the machine, John is trapped in the time he selected without the return key and the machine returns to Wells’ house, so he gets into it and follows John to the time and place John selected, which happens to be San Francisco in 1979. The place is obviously alien to both men, but the criminal John seems OK with it and has no desire to go back home to face charges. Wells, meanwhile, meets bank employee Amy Robbins (Mary Steenburgen) and the two fall in love.
Finally, we’ll mention The Americanization of Emily, on TCM at 6:00 PM Sunday. James Garner plays American naval officer Lt. Cmdr. Charles Madison, who is in London in early 1944 in the run-up to D-Day, where he serves as an adjutant to Adm. Jessup (Melvyn Douglas). It’s a cushy job for Madison, at least until he meets Emily (Julie Andrews), who is assigned to Madison as his driver. Emily doesn’t like Charles at first, because he typifies everything about the “overpaid, oversexed, over here” stereotype of American servicemen, especially considering that Madison just wants to be able to ride out the war in one piece. But then Jessup has a breakdown, and Madison is assigned a mission that will have him going ashore in Normandy on D-Day. Further complicating things is the fact that Charles has fallen in love with Emily, and the feeling is mutual.