Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” Thread, for the week of October 2-8, 2017. The Brewers finally have been mathematically eliminated, so you don't have to worry about them yet. And the Badgers haven't screwed up their season yet. So why not spend some time with some good movies? We've got some good ones this week, and of course with this being the first full week of a new month there's a new spotlight and a new Star of the Month on TCM. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Hollywood has always remade stuff, and sometimes they've been nuts enough to remake a drama or comedy as a musical. It often doesn't work, as with The Opposite Sex, which you can watch on TCM at 6:00 AM Monday. This one is a remake of the 1939 comedy The Women, a biting comedy about the way women treat each other and their attempts to screw up the marriage of one of their number. In the remake, the woman who is happily married at the start of the marriage, Kay, is played by June Allyson, whose voice some of you may find irritating. She's married to Steve, who is actually shown on screen in this one and played by Leslie Nielsen. Part of the genius of The Women was to have no men in the cast. The women with whom Steve is alleged to have had a fling is Crystal, played by Joan Collins, who isn't nearly as much the bitch she'd be on Dynasty. Ann Miller shows up, but they don't really ask her to dance, which is nuts considering that's what she was best known for. At least, there's a lot of fashion on display here.
I know how much all of you adore early talkies, so I'll recommend Cecil B. DeMille's first talkie, Dynamite, which will be on TCM at 5:00 AM Tuesday. Kay Johnson plays Cynthia, a young woman who's in love with playboy Roger (Conrad Nagel). The problem is, he's married. His wife Marcia will give him a divorce for a substantial enough settlement, but this is still a problem for Cynthia in that the divorce won't go through in time for a clause in a trust fund that says Cynthia must be married by a certain date or lose the trust fund not to be triggered. Cynthia doesn't want to lose the money, so she comes up with a brilliant idea: marry a guy on death row! Hagon (Charles Bickford) is that man, and what's in it for him is that Cynthia is willing to pay to have his young sister taken care of. So everbody but Hagon will get to live happily ever after, right? Well, it turns out that Hagon is innocent and the real criminal is found, freeing Hagon and allowing that whole “til death do us part” thing to be delayed for decades. And if you were wondering why Marcia was willing to divorce rich Roger, it's because she's got a boyfriend of her own in Marco, played by a very young Joel McCrea.
A movie that's back on FXM Retro after a long absence is The Left Hand of God, which will be on at 11:50 AM Wednesday and 8:50 AM Thursday. Humphrey Bogart plays Fr. O'Shea, a Catholic priest who shows up at a mission in an isolated part of China run by Dr. and Mrs. Sigman (E.G. Marshall and Agnes Moorehead) and their nurse Anne (Gene Tierney). O'Shea seems to be a bit unorthodox in his methods, which as it turns out is because he's really not a priest at all. He's an American pilot working against the Japanese occupation, and he was downed on a mission and captured by a Chinese warlord. The warlord shot a priest, which O'Shea saw as his opportunity to escape, by taking the priest's vestments and going to a more out of the way area. There's also the problem that Anne seems to be falling in love with him, and the feeling might be mutual, which a priest isn't supposed to do, never mind the fact that O'Shea isn't really a priest. And unsurprisingly, the warlord (Lee J. Cobb playing Chinese!) finds O'Shea which spells much bigger trouble.
There are a bunch of Buster Keaton movies on TCM on Wednesday morning and afternoon. I'll mention the last one airing, The General, at 6:30 PM. Keaton plays Johnnie, a train engineer in Georgia in 1862. That date is of course during the Civil War, and Johnnie would like to sign up to fight to do his part. But he's a train engineer, and the authorities think he's more useful in that role than he would be as cannon fodder. Worse, his girlfriend Annabelle (Marion Mack) doesn't believe this, instead thinking Johnnie is shirking his duty. Johnnie continues to do his work, but he gets his chance to be a hero when Union soldiers capture his train and try to take it north, both to get the train itself and to be able to sabotage the tracks. Johnnie has to get the train back south and foil the Union soldiers. And this will also give him a chance to redeem himself in Annabelle's eyes since she's on the train. Keaton filmed this one out in Oregon since it had the proper narrow-gauge tracks, and some of the real destruction that went on during filming is spectacular.
We're in October so you should expect some horror movies. A movie with a title that sounds like it should be a horror film but is actually a western is Warlock, which will be on StarzEncore Westerns at 10:20 PM Wednesday. The title here actually refers to the name of a town., which has been beset by gang violence. So they hire former gunman Clay (Henry Fonda) to be the town marshal. He brings along Tom (Anthony Quinn), one of his former gang members and his bodyguard, a man who has an unnatural level of loyalty to him. Making matters more complicated is that the town also hires former gang member from a different gang Johnny (Richard Widmark) to be a deputy, and Johnnie is even a straighter arrow than Clay. Both of the men have love interests, but one of the women is unhappy that her former love was in Johnny's gang, and she's determined to do something to extract her revenge.
Thursday morning and afternoon brings a bunch of movies directed by Jacques Tourneur to TCM. He's probably most famous for Out of the Past (6:00 PM) and Cat People (not on until next week), but I'd like to point out that TCM is running several of the shorts Tourneur did early in his Hollywood career. I'm not certain if I've mentioned The Rainbow Pass before; it'll be on at 4:00 PM. This one is narrated by Carey Wilson who probably did the weakest shorts at MGM (especially those dumb Nostradamus shorts) and was made in conjunction with The Good Earth. It deals with Chinese theater and shows an abridgement of an apparently popular Chinese drama, put on by actual Chinese-American actors.
Terry Gilliam's films can be an acquired taste and tend to divide opinion. One that shouldn't do that so much is Time Bandits, which TCM will be showing at 2:00 AM Friday. Kevin is a stuck with suburban parents trying to keep up with the Joneses; the kid retreats into fantasies by reading history books. Little does he know that he's got better access to history. In his closet there's a “time hole”, a portal to different eras in history, and one day a bunch of dwarves come into his room through that time hole. They've got a map that they've stolen from their god that has the locations of time holes and are looking for riches in various time periods. Kevin decides to join them, because of those fantasies. However, there's also a devil-like being who wants that map. Among the eras they visit are ancient Greece with Sean Connery playing Agamemnon; medieval England with John Cleese as Robin Hood; and Napoleonic France with Ian Holm as Napoleon.
We're in a new month, so we get a new Star of the Month on TCM: Anthony Perkins, whose movies will be on TCM every Friday in prime time. Of the films this week I'll recommend The Tin Star, which comes on at 12:15 AM Saturday. Henry Fonda is actually the star here, as Morgan Hickman, a former sheriff turned bounty hunter. He shows up at the start of the movie bringing a bounty into town, where the sheriff is young Ben Owens (Anthony Perkins). Nobody wants to give Morgan a room, so he goes off and stays with the widow Mayfield (Betsy Palmer) and her son Kip while he's waiting for the bounty money. He also notices that Ben Owens is thoroughly unsuited to be sheriff, as he's indecisive and not a particularly good leader. So while waiting, Morgan starts giving Ben lessons in how to be a better sheriff. But then somebody kills the town doctor, and a posse forms trying to find who did it so the posse can lynch the guilty party. Ben wants the guy to have a chance at justice, but does Ben have the competence to find the guy?
This being October, TCM has a “Monster of the Month” in Dracula, and there will Dracula movies on every Sunday in prime time. They have most of the Dracula movies, but StarzEncore Classics has the 1979 version of Dracula, at 10:52 PM Thursday. Frank Langella plays the count, who in this version washes ashore on England circa 1913 after a ship wreck. He meets Mina Van Helsing and kills her. Mina was staying with the Sewards, daughter Lucy (Kate Nelligan) and father Dr. Jack (Donald Pleasance). Dr. Jack calls Mina's father Abraham (Laurence Olivier), who spots the untoward goings on and figures out that Mina was killed by a vampire and is now undead, and that Count Dracula is that vampire. Worse, the bad Count is trying to seduce Lucy with the intention of making her his eternal bride!
You might think that some of those Dracula movies would be a good fit for TCM Underground, but not this week. Instead TCM is running Who's That Girl? at 3:45 AM Sunday. Loudon (Griffin Dunne) is a tax attorney who's getting prepared to marry his wealthy boss Simon's daughter Wendy. Simon, however, wants Loudon to pick up Nikki (Madonna) first. Nikki is about to get out of jail after four years, and Simon wants to make certain Nikki gets on the bus to Philadelphia where she's supposed to meet her parole officer. Nikki turns out to be quite the character. She delays the trip to Philadelphia (why couldn't he just drive her there anyway?) to pick up a cat, Bringing Up Baby style, and then proceeds to take Loudon all around New York, insisting of course that she's quite innocent of those crimes that got her put in jail. And if Loudon would only help investigate…. Of course, he begins to fall in love with her which is a problem since he's already engaged, and then the evidence points… well, I'm not going to give that away. Just have some fun with 80s fashion and music. ¿Quien es, es la niña?