Welcome to another edition of Fedya's “Movies to Tivo” thread, for the week of September 21-27, 2020. Autumn is almost here, but I don't see an airing of Joan Crawford's Autumn Leaves this week. Still, there's a lot of other interesting stuff, both on TCM and other movie channels. Surprisingly, most of it is a bit more recent than normal, with four 1980s movies and only one from before 1950. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
Most of this week's selections are a lot more recent than last week's starting with our first film, Swing Shift, which you can see at 4:15 PM Monday on TCM. Goldie Hawn plays Kay Walsh, a housewife married to Jack (Ed Harris) and living in a Los Angeles bungalow on December 6, 1941. Of course, we know what happens the following day, and with the US in World War II, Jack joins up and goes off to fight the war as part of the Navy. Kay could use the money and there's nothing to do anyhow, so she becomes one of the women workers on the home front supporting the war effort in an aircraft factory, together with her friend and neighbor Hazel (Christine Lahti). They and the other women take pride in their work, and among the managers there is Lucky (Kurt Russell), who isn't fighting because he's got a bad heart and is 4-F. Lucky and Kay become friends, but them more happens because both are so lonely. 1944 comes, and Jack gets some leave, and you just know he's going to come back to find Kay and Lucky together. Hazel tries to help Kay out by acting as though Lucky is her boyfriend, but that causes problems in her friendship with Kay.
Another of the movies that recently started running in the FXM rotation is Hand of Death. It'll be on again this week, at 3:00 AM Monday. John Agar plays Alex Marsh, a scientist working on nerve gases at a jerry-built lab out in the desert. One night, while engaging in some pretty shoddy scientific practices, he spills some of a liquid agent on himself, and despite washing it off, he wakes up the next morning after some weird nightmares with what his assistant says is darkened skin. When Alex grabs his assistant by the arm, the assistant suddenly dies a horrible death, burning to a crisp. Alex realizes there's something horribly wrong with the agent he'd been working on, and heads to his mentor Dr. Ramsey (Roy Gordon) and girlfriend Carol (Paula Raymond) in the big city to look for a cure. You know other people are going to come into contact with him along the way and get killed in a touching gesture. And the cops sure as hell aren't going to have any sympathy, being more willing to shoot the guy than help him find a cure.
On Monday in prime time, TCM is running several movies starring Meryl Streep. The night kicks off at 8:00 PM with A Cry in the Dark. Streep plays Lindy Chamberlain, an Australian woman married to Michael (Sam Neill), a pastor in a Seventh-Day Adventist church. As many Australians do, they decide to go to the outback for a vacation, to the area around Ayers Rock. However, tragedy strikes as Lindy goes back to the tent to tend to her infant daughter and finds the daughter missing, distraught that “the dingo's got my baby”! When no trace of the baby can be found, Lindy is accused of having killed the child herself. After a long inquest, she's cleared of charges. That is, until a scientific “expert” in forensics re-examines the evidence and concludes that there's new evidence to charge Lindy in the baby's killing. With a media that hates non-mainstream Christians ginning up hatred, Lindy is put back on trial. This is based on a real case, and while the movie has a reasonable resolution, it was released before the stress of the ordeal ultimately got to Lindy and Michael leading to their divorce. (Michael died in 2017; Lindy remarried and is still alive aged 72.)
A western that a search of x4 and my browser history claims I haven't mentioned before is War Arrow. It's going to be on at 5:25 AM Tuesday on StarzEncore Westerns. The Kiowa are attacking settlers out west, and cavalry Major Howell Brady (Jeff Chandler) has an interesting idea: go to the Indian Territory and get some of the Seminoles, who were resettled there as farmers, to join in to beat back the Kiowa, in exchange for better farmland. There's some dissension in the Seminole community about whether to trust the US government, and as it turns out there's dissension within the Army about what to do, as Col. Meade (John McIntire) is opposed to the idea. Serving as Brady's love interest is Elaine Corwin (Maureen O'Hara), wife of a Confederate Army man who was MIA and presumed dead since he's never returned. However, with the military tactics the Kiowa are using, one wonders if they're in cahoots with someone from the white man's army…. Tragic Suzan Ball, cousin of Lucille Ball, plays the daughter of the Seminole chief.
Wednesday is the centenary of actor Mickey Rooney, so TCM is spending the afternoon and evening with eight of his movies. Since we need something older to mention this week, I'll point out a juvenile Rooney in Ah, Wilderness!, which will be on at 6:00 PM Wednesday. Eric Linden is the lead here, as Richard Miller, about to graduate high school in small-town New England circa 1906. He's got grand ideas of the world, but doesn't really know much about the outside world. At home, he's got parents in Nat (Lionel Barrymore) and Essie (Spring Byington); Essie's brother Sid (Wallace Beery), a drinker; and Nat's sister Lily (Aline MacMahon), who would be right for Sid if he ever stopped drinking. There's a nice girl next door for Richard, but he spends an evening with a more worldly lady in order to learn that perhaps there's a lot in the wide world that's not all it's cracked up to be. Rooney plays Richard's kid brother. The movie would be remade in the late 1940s as Summer Holiday, with Rooney taking Linden's role; that movie isn't on this week. Watch for the highlight of the movie, the Independence Day scene.
I mentioned Pretty in Pink a couple of months back. A movie with very similar themes that came out around the same time is Some Kind of Wonderful, which you'll be able to see at 2:50 AM Wednesday on Epix Hits. In this one, Eric Stoltz plays Keith, a high schooler in a working-class family who isn't quite sure what he wants to do in life although his parents want him to go to college. He's got a platonic friend in the tomboyish Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson), but when the popular girl Amanda (Lea Thompson) breaks up with her boyfriend Hardy (Craig Sheffer), this gives Keith the idea that perhaps he could get her to go out with him. Surprisingly, in spite of the class differences, she agrees! However, Hardy still has feelings for Amanda and doesn't want her to have happiness with Keith. More complicated is the fact that Watts realizes she's got feelings for Keith. Who's right for Keith? Well, if you remember Pretty in Pink, you should know the answer already.
The spotlight on doctor movies continues on TCM on Thursday night with a pair of interesting moives. The first of them is The Young Doctors, at 9:30 PM Thursday. Fredric March plays Dr. Pearson, the aging head of the pathology department at a city hospital. He clashes with Dr. Coleman (Ben Gazzara) who, being in serology, has to work closely with Pearson. Coleman, being younger, has kept up with advances in science and believes Coleman needs to move on with the times. Another member of the new guard is Dr. Alexander (Dick Clark, yes, that Dick Clark), who has a pregnant wife who could benefit from a new test for the Rh factor to determine whether there will be complications. Dr. Pearson disagrees, and you can guess how that storyline is going to go. The other storyline involves Dr. Coleman and his nurse girlfriend (Ina Balin), who develops a form of cancer that may require amputating a leg depending on test results from the pathology department… that seem inconclusive. This is actually an interesting movie that deserves to be better remembered than it is.
The Young Doctors will be followed at 11:30 PM by The Hospital. With a script by Paddy Chayefsky, this is an extremely dark comedy, starring George C. Scott as Herbert Bock. Dr. Bock is the chief of staff at a teaching hospital in New York who has a lot of problems. Many are in his personal life, with his wife leaving him and kids hating him, but professionally, there's also protests by local activists over a proposed expansion. Worse than that, patients start dying. Well, patients do die in hospitals, but not unexpectedly like this. Showing up is Barbara Drummond (the recently deceased Diana Rigg), whose father (Barnard Hughes) is a patient there but also a doctor working one of the Indian reservations. Barbara's father knows more than he's letting on about what's going on at the hospital, as evidence starts to mount that perhaps these unexpected deaths are in fact murder. One likely suspect is Dr. Wellbeck (Richard Dysart), a celebrity surgeon using the hospital for admitting privileges. The only reason not to watch is if you've got an elective surgery coming up soon.
A franchise that went from radio to TV to movie to a second TV series and then a second movie is Dragnet. The 1987 movie Dragnet will be on The Movie Channel at 2:15 PM Saturday. Jack Webb had died by the time this movie went into production, so the Joe Friday we get here (played by Dan Aykroyd) is ostensibly the nephew of Webb's original. He's partnered by a less strait-laced buy, Pep Streebek (Tom Hanks), although Harry Morgan, who had played Webb's partner in the 1960s series, is back as Gannon, but now Friday's boss. Friday and Streebek are asked to investigate a string of bizarre robberies, such as a bunch of porno magazines published by Jerry Caesar (Dabney Coleman), which ultimately leads to a pagan cult run by Rev. Whirley (Christopher Plummer). Friday and Streebek's sometimes unorthodox ways gets them in trouble with their bosses, especially commissioner Kirkpatrick (Elizabeth Ashley), who might know more about the case than she's letting on.
For another older movie, we'll conclude with Executive Suite, at 6:00 PM Saturday on TCM. Avery Bullard, head of a furniture manufacturing company, leaves a meeting with investment bankers to head to one of the company's factories. But he dies suddenly while exiting the building, leaving the company without a designated successor. So it's up to the board to meet in an emergency session to find somebody to take over the company. Among the board members are Caswell (Louis Calhern), one of the investment bankers planning to make a killing of Bullard's death; Comptroller Shaw (Fredric March); Treasurer Alderson (Walter Pidgeon); Walling (William Holden), a modernizer who wants the company to make quality furniture that lasts even if that costs more; Dudley (Paul Douglas), the manager of sales; Grimm (Dean Jagger), the VP for manufacturing; and the widow of the company's founder, Julia Treadway (Barbara Stanwyck). Walling has a wife (June Allyson) and Dudley a secretary (Shelley Winters) trying to get each of them to be more assertive in what is certain to be a pivotal board meeting.