Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” thread, for the week of March 5-11, 2018. This is the week we move our clocks forward one hour, so if you're looking for movies to watch Saturday night and Sunday, be careful with the times. We're in the first full week of a new month, although TCM is doing the Star of the Month differently this time around. More on that next week. In the meantime, we've got a mix of interesting films and I'm sure there's going to be something of interest for all of you. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
It's been three years since I've recommended The Romance of Rosy Ridge. It's going to be on TCM at 6:00 AM Monday as part of a birthday salute to cast member Dean Stockwell, who will turn 82 on Monday. The MacBean family -- father Gill (Thomas Mitchell), mother Sairy (Selena Royle), adult daughter Lissy (Janet Leigh) and young son Andrew (Stockwell) – are a farming familiy living in Missouri in the years just after the Civil War. Their adult son fought for the Confederacy, and now that the war is over, bad things are happening to those families who supported the South. Into all of this comes Henry (Van Johnson), a stranger who is taken in by the MacBeans and who immediate falls in love with Lissy. The feeling, of course, is mutual. But Henry has a past what with there having been a civil war and all, and Dad suspects Henry is up to no good, as do some of the confederate sympathizers. And then Henry reveals why he sought out the MacBeans…. This was Janet Leigh's film debut, having recently been discovered by former queen of the MGM lot Norma Shearer.
Apparently I haven't recommended Tide of Empire before. It's going to be on TCM at 6:00 AM Tuesday. In this film from the very end of the silent era, the “empire” refers to the California gold rush and all the people who are going to make a killing off of it. Of course, they'd also have to deal with the inhabitants already there, the Mexicans of Spanish descent. Tom Keene (billed here under his real name, George Duryea), plays D'Arcy, a man from the east who will be looking for gold together with partner Bejabbers (James Bradbury Sr.). Along the way, however, he wins a ranch from an old noble Spanish family, the Guerreros, a dad, son Romauldo (William Collier), and daughter Josephita (Renée Adorée). Josephita hates D'Arcy for this, although you know they're going to wind up together in the last reel. D'Arcy and Bejabbers eventually do find gold, and are going to ship it east via Messrs. Wells and Fargo (two real people, remember), but the criminal Cannon plots to steal it from them, and has even brought Romauldo into his gang for the heist.
Another movie I think I haven't mentioned before is Six Black Horses, at 9:39 AM Tuesday on StarzEncore Westerns. This is yet another Audie Murphy western. This time he plays Ben Lane, a gunslinger together with his friend Frank Jesse (Dan Duryea). The two get hired by Kelly (Joan O'Brien), who is ostensibly looking to hire them as escorts, as she wants to be reunited with her husband and he lives on the other side of dangerous Apache territory. However, it turns out that she has other motives. Halfway through the journey, she tells Ben that she'll give him Frank's share of the money if Ben kills Frank! Of course, Kelly claims to have a good reason for it: Frank is alleged to have killed Kelly's husband, if you can believe her. Ben isn't so sure, and Frank is his friend. And of course doing the deed in Apache territory would pose problems even if Frank weren't Ben's friend. But events conspire to bring matters to a head….
The Terrorists is back on FXM Retro this week, at 1:30 PM Tuesday. In this one, after a prologue of bombs being set off in London, we find out that there are actually two groups of terrorists. The first, led by Shepherd (John Quentin), hijack the British ambassador to “Scandinavia”. (The film was shot largely in Norway, although Norway is not mentioned.) Meanwhile, a flight from London to the capital city is hijacked by Petrie (Ian McShane) and his cohort, and he wants as his ransom to be put in touch with the other terrorists, so we obviously have one big operation going on here. Called into this is Tahlvik (Sean Connery), the head of security. He's trying to figure out a resolution to the hijacking, and at the same time having to butt heads with his superiors, who seem to want to resolve things differently than he does. There's also the ambassador's wife who understandably has her own ideas.
You can be forgiven for thinking that the title refers to people like Jaymo, but Return of the Bad Men is going to be on TCM at 12:15 AM Thursday. In fact, the titular bad men are a whole bunch of famous Old West outlaws, who in the movie, all wind up in what is now Oklahoma around the time of the land rush of 1889. The town of Guthrie was founded at the time, and Vance (Randolph Scott) is tapped to be the first US Marshal in the area. Vance has to deal with the Daltons (Lex Barker plays Emmett Dalton); the Youngers (the aforementioned Tom Keene under another pseudonym plays Jim Younger); Billy the Kid; and even the Sundance Kid (Robert Ryan, inexplicably in a western). Gabby Hayes plays the local banker who wants law and order, and Jacqueline White (still alive at 95) plays his daughter and a love interest to Vance. It's all a bunch of historical nonsense, but it's entertaining enough.
I think it's been quite a while since I've recommended Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy before. This one is going to be on at 7:06 AM Wednesday on StarzEncore Classics. There's a serial killer on the loose in London of the early 70s, and his MO is to strangle women with a necktie. And then one day poor down on his luck Richard Blaney (Jon Finch) goes to visit his estranged wife Brenda (Barbara Leigh-Hunt). This gives police a point of evidence in that the two were very obviously placed together; he ends up with some money that she gave him to tide him over while he looks for a new job; and she winds up strangled with a necktie! Of course, the viewer knows that Richard is innocent but that Richard has no way of proving his innocence (DNA evidence wasn't yet available). So Richard tries to escape, not knowing whom he can trust, while the real killer tries to turn the screws tighter on Richard. After The Birds, Hitchcock didn't have as much success, and this movie, made back in his native Britain, is probably the best of those later movies.
I don't know if any of you watch HGTV (and why would you?), but Drew Scott is one of the hosts of their popular show Property Brothers, together with twin brother Jonathan. Drew is also this month's TCM Guest Programmer, and he sat down with Ben Mankiewicz to discuss four of his favorite movies. Those movies will be airing on Thursday in prime time:
High Noon at 8:00 PM, starring Gary Cooper as a sheriff who finds that nobody in town wants to help him fight off a bunch of outlaws;
To Kill a Mockingbird at 9:45, in which Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch defending a black man on a rape charge in 1930s Alabama;
Poltergeist at 12:15 AM, in which spirits take over a suburban family's house and abduct their daughter; and
Close Encounters of the Third Kind at 2:30 AM, about a bunch of people who feel some compulsion to get to Devil's Tower, Wyoming for reasons they don't quite understand.
The Frisco Kid was not a friend of mine, but the movie of that title will be on TCM at 12:30 PM Friday. Gene Wilder plays Avram, a Polish rabbi in 1850 who has been hired to become a rabbi for a new congregation… in San Francisco, CA. So he's got to get to America, and then get all the way to San Francisco. Being in a new land is tough, and he gets waylaid already in Pennsylvania. After a series of misadventures working his way west, he winds up meeting Tom Lillard (Harrison Ford). Tom likes Avram and decides to help, but Tom has an intresting idea of help: Tom is a bank robber, which means that Tom and Avram are always on the run. Eventually they do make it to California, only for Avram to find the three guys who waylaid him back in Pennsylvania have also made it out to California. Surely you can figure out that the good guys are going to win somehow.
Another movie that I haven't recommended in quite some time is Kindergarten Cop, which will be on HBO Comedy at 11:15 PM Saturday. Arnold Schwarzenegger, another actor-turned-politician, stars as John Kimble, a narcotics officer on the hunt for notorious drug kingpin Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson). To get the testimony necessary to nail Cullen, however, they're going to have to talk to his ex-wife. All they know is that she's been seen in Astoria, OR, and that she has a new identity. So they send Kimble and his detective partner Phoebe (Pamela Reed) to Oregon, where the plan is that Phoebe will pose as a teacher to get close to Rachel. However, Phoebe gets an illness that prevents her from taking the teacher's job, and the cops are forced to substitute Kimble as the teacher! You can imagine Arnie as a kindergarten teacher. Of course, he falls in love with another of the teachers along the way, while at the same time Cullen Crisp and his mother (Carroll Baker) are trying to find Rachel, too….
Finally on Saturday, now that 31 Days of Oscar is over, TCM is doing something new on Saturdays. Starting at 8:00 AM and running until noon, they're recreating the idea of the old Saturday matinee. They're going to be having classic cartoons for the first time in ages (Cartoon Newtork has has the rights to the old MGM and WB cartoons for years), go through the Tarzan series in the 10:00 slot, and run through a serial I'd never heard of before, Red Barry at 9:30 AM. Oh, and there's a John Wayne western from early in his career when he was working on Poverty Row at 8:00 AM.