Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" Thread, for the week of May 9-15, 2022. Apparently the local basketball team's season is still going fairly well, but then basketball teams don't play every day, so there's a lot of time for good movies. There's more from Star of the Month Anna May Wong on Thursday night, an interesting foreign film, and some Oscar-winning movies. And I've even selected one film from the 1990s for those of you who want more recent movies. As alwas, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
You probably know the song "Hooray for Hollywood". It premiered in the movie Hollywood Hotel, which will be on TCM at 8:15 AM Monday as part of a day of movies directed by Busby Berkeley. Dick Powell plays Ronnie Bowers, saxophonist in Benny Goodman's band who gets plucked from obscurity to go out to Hollywood. However, Mona Marshall (Lola Lane), the queen of the lot at the studio where Ronnie has been given a short-term contract, is in a contract dispute herself, so the studio hires a body double (Rosemary Lane, Lola's real-life sister; no wonder the two look alike) for Ronnie to be seen with. This enrages Mona, who gets both Ronnie and her double fired, sending him to work at a diner, only to be plucked from obscurity a second time because the king of the lot, Alexander Dupre (Alan Mowbray), is given the lead in a musical about the Civil War but can't sing. Of course, Ronnie can croon a nice toon, so those voice talents will be discovered and he'll get a second chance. Watch for a small early role from Ronald Reagan.
Up against Hollywood Hotel is one of several airings of Patriot Games, although it's got another airing at 1:45 AM Tuesday on Epix2. Jack Ryan returns, although this time he's played by Harrison Ford. On a break from his teaching job at the Naval Academy, he takes his family to London, where they witness an IRA terror attack on London's top politician in Northern Ireland, Lord Holmes (James Fox). Jack kills a couple of the IRA agents, including the brother of Sean Miller (Sean Bean). The head of the terrorist cell, O'Donnell (Patrick Bergin), along with Miller, vow revenge, although they're so radical that even the rest of the IRA is worried about them. O'Donnell stages an attack when Miller is being hauled off to prison, freeing Miller and enabling them to try to kill Lord Holmes again, and then, when Holmes is going to be traveling to the United States, creating an opportunity to kill both Holmes and Ryan. Watch for an early role from Samuel L. Jackson; James Earl Jones as an admiral; and Richard Harris as a Sinn Fein politician.
If you want to see pretty young Americans doing things in pretty locations abroad, you might want to try Rome Adventure, on TCM at 8:00 PM Tuesday. Suzanne Pleshette plays Prudence Bell, a librarian at a women's college who gets in trouble for lending one of the students a racy romance novel so the student can learn about love. Prudence decides she's going to take the book's advice herself, quitting her job and heading off to beautiful Rome in search of romance. Once in Italy, she gets a room in a villa where the countess renting out the rooms rents to a bunch of Americans. Another of those Americans is Don Porter (Troy Donahue), a graduate student in architecture who makes ends meet by working at a bookstore. Prudence also gets a job there, and once again, the old trope of the two falling in love comes to pass. But Don has an old flame Lyda (Angie Dickinson) who is in Italy, and she may just try to win Don back, in which case Prudence could settle for Italian Roberto (Rossano Brazzi). Young Suzanne Pleshette, or young Angie Dickinson? What a difficult choice.
I'm very happy to see Loves of a Blonde on the TCM schedule, at 7:00 AM Wednesday. Made by Miloš Forman in his native Czechoslovakia before the Prague Spring, the movie tells the story of a small town where the Communists built a shoe factory staffed almost entirely by young women, leading to a severe imbalance between the sexes in the town. So the managers of the factory come to an agreement with the army that the army will have a small garrison of soldiers sent there for a mixer to get the women some men to have an enjoyable evening with. However, the women are all young, and the men who get sent there are old enough to be the women's fathers. The only young man there is Milda (Vladimir Pucholt), the keyboardist for the jazz combo providing the music. Worker Andula (Hana Brejchová) finds Milda, and the two escape together to a small room away from the dance floor. Milda gives Andula a throwaway line that she should come to visit him in Prague, never expecting that she's going to have a need to see him again and show up at the apartment where he still lives with his parents (there being a severe housing shortage in the country) unannounced.
I didn't mention anything on StarzEncore Westerns last week, so this week I'll mention The Return of Frank James, which will be on at 6:38 AM Thursday. Henry Fonda, who had played Frank James in the 1939 movie Jesse James, returns to play Frank James, brother of the outlaw who was killed by Robert Ford (John Carradine). Frank, at the start of the movie, has gotten out of the crime game, working a farm and taking care of Clem (Jackie Cooper), son of one of the other gang members who was killed, and letting it be made public that he too was killed even though he wasn't. But Frank hears that the Ford brothers were given a pardon for their crimes for political reasons, and he'd like revenge. A lady reporter, Eleanor Stone (Gene Tierney), hears about the alleged Frank James killing and, not knowing she's talking to the real Frank, asks him about it. The two fall in love, but what will happen when the truth comes out?
We get another night of Anna May Wong movies on TCM on Thursday, kicking off with the silent Piccadilly at 8:00 PM. Picadilly Circus here is a nightclub/restaurant in London owned by Valentine Wilmot (Jameson Thomas). He's in love with the star female dancer Mabel (Gilda Gray), but her dance partner Vic is really the one people come to see and he's in love with Mabel too. After a disturbance sends Wilmot into the restaurant's kitchen, he finds scullery girl Shosho (Anna May Wong) doing a dance for the other kitchen workers, who are mesmerized by it. When that disturbance also results in Vic and Mabel leaving Piccadilly Circus, Valentine hired Shosho to do a dance out front for the paying guests, and like Josephine Baker in Paris, it's a sensation. However, it also leads to Wilmot falling for Shosho, something that bothers both Mabel and Vic, and is eventually going to lead to tragedy. Watch for the customer complaining about his spaghetti in an early scene; that's a young Charles Laughton before he became a star.
If you're feeling lucky, you may like TCM's Friday morning and afternoon lineup, which has a lot of movies with "Lucky" in the title. One of them is Lucky Night, on at 9:45 AM Friday. Myrna Loy plays Cora Jordan, an heiress who's decided she wants try to make her own way in life before settling down to that inheritance. At the unemployment office, and then later on a park bench, she runs into Bill Overton (Robert Taylor), a man who for some reason seems unable to keep the same job, and would just like some fun in life. So they, having been gifted 50 cents, go out for dinner. One thing leads to another, and they wind up winning some money gambling, and getting drunk enough to wake up the next morning married to each other! Cora realizes this is the man she could settle down with -- but then Bill realizes he still wants the fun life that Cora suddenly no longer wants. Will love be able to conquer all?
We've got a pair of Oscar-winning films from Fox that were released in the early 1970s. The first of them is The French Connection, which will be on FXM at 3:00 AM Saturday. The movie starts off in Marseilles, France, where drug kingpin Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) has a scheme to smuggle a large quantity of heroin to New York. In New York, police detectives Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider) make a connection between a low-level gangster Sal Boca (Tony Lo Bianco) and the narcotics trade, which helps bring the feds onto the case. However, Charnier is no dummy, and realizes that he's being watched, which complicates things greatly. Also complicating things is that the police have no idea where the deal is going to go down, or precisely how Charnier was able to smuggle the drugs into the US in the first place. Violent for the time, and containing an iconic car chase through the elevated train pylons.
This week's Saturday matinee block on TCM includes one of the four movies in which Ronald Reagan played Secret Service agent Brass Bancroft, although looking at the schedule TCM isn't going through the whole series. The movie in question is Code of the Secret Service, at 8:30 AM Saturday. As you may recall, one of the original purposes of the Secret Service was to deal with counterfeiting. Apparently, a group of bad guys led by Parker (Moroni Olsen) has stolen an engraving plate used to print money, and is printing nearly perfect $100 bills in Mexico. Bancroft and his partner Gabby (Eddie Foy Jr.) are sent down to Mexico, but another agent gets killed by the gang and the Mexican police, not having been informed of Bancroft's identity yet, suspect him, helped by Parker dressing as a Catholic priest and encouraging the rest. In order to prove his innocence, Bancroft breaks out of prison and takes a woman (Rosella Towne) hostage. Unsurprisingly for this sort of B movie, she falls in love with Bancroft along the way.
Another Oscar-winning film from Fox in the early 1970s is Patton, although this one isn't showing up on FXM. Instead, you can see it on StarzEncore Action several times this week, including at 5:03 AM Sunday. George C. Scott plays World War II general George Patton, and after the famous opening scene of him in front of the giant American flag, the action cuts back to the middle of the war, at least from the US perspective. The US has just lost badly at the Kasserine Pass in north Africa, and Patton is promoted largely because everybody else has failed. Patton proves to be an excellent military commander, scoring one smashing success after another, but he has a lot of problems with the politics of the top level of military brass, as his friend and fellow general Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) points out. This culminates in Patton being relieved of command when he smacks a soldier he views as cowardly. But the US is going to need more generals in the field once the D-Day invasion begins, so Patton gets to go back in the field. The movie doesn't deal with his death and whether it was an accident or something else.