Welcome to another edition of Fedya's "Movies to Tivo" thread, for the week of September 8-15, 2019. Normally I run the weeks Monday to Sunday, but events of the past week and some fortuitous scheduling require me to start off with tonight's prime time lineup on TCM. In addition to that, there are the other multitudinous spotlights on TCM, along with a bunch of interesting movies on other cable channels. There's enough that I didn't even have time to get to Star of the Month Sidney Poitier on Tuesday night or the James Bond movies on Thursday night. As always, all times are in Eastern, unless otherwise mentioned.
The first thing I have to mention is two programming tributes to people who recently died. Last week I was going to mention that Bunny Lake Is Missing was airing tonight (September 8) at 8:00 PM, as part of a double bill of movies starring Carol Lynley. This was already on the schedule, but in the meantime, Lynley died on Tuesday at the age of 77. Lynley is probably best known for playing Nonny the singer in The Poseidon Adventure, but that movie isn't in the lineup. After Bunny Lake Is Missing at 8:00 PM, there's Blue Denim at 10:00 PM, in which Lynley gets knocked up courtesy of Brandon de Wilde, who tries to get her an illegal abortion, this being the late 1950s.
Peter Fonda died last month at the age of 79, and TCM decided to preempt a bit of its programming to run a tribute to the late actor. They're going to run two movies in prime time on Sunday, September 15: Ulee's Gold at 8:00 PM, followed by Easy Rider at 10:00 PM.
I know how much you all like Audie Murphy, so it's time to mention yet another of his westerns, Posse from Hell, which will be on StarzEncore Westerns at 5:18 AM Monday. Murphy plays Banner Cole, a deputy in Paradies, one of those typical western movie small towns. Into their town one day comes a group of four prison escapees led by Crip (Vic Morrow). They rob the local bank and terrorize the town for a while, killing the marshal and taking a town beauty, Helen (Zohra Lampert), hostage. Since the marshal is dead it's up to deputy Cole to get together a posse and search for the criminals, although it turns out that he has a bit of a past of his own. And it doesn't help that the posse isn't particularly competent, what with people like eastern bank clerk Seymour (John Saxon) taking part in order to try to prove himself. Typical of the Universal westerns of the 50s and 60s, but professional with a good supporting cast including people like Lee Van Cleef and Royal Dano.
FXM has a number of Shirley Temple movies in its current rotation. One that isn't is Heidi, which will be on TCM instead, at 8:00 PM Monday. As you can probably guess, Temple plays Heidi, the little girl who is orphaned and sent by her aunt Dete (Mady Christians) to live with Grandpa Anton (Jean Hersholt), a hermit in the Alps. Grandpa is resentful at first, but ever Shirley Temple character is just so damn charming that Grandpa is soon won over. But mean Aunt Dete figures out a way to make money on Heidi by making her the companion of a wheelchair-bound girl in a rich Frankfurt family, the Sesemanns. Heidi's charm works on the little girl too, as she might even be able to walk again. But the nurse, Fräulein Rottenmeier (Mary Nash), would be out of a job then, so she tries to send Heidi away. Grandpa, meanwhile, has decided that he's going to look for Heidi and bring her home with him. Based on a popular book, although some changes were made for the movie, such as giving Temple a song and dance number to do and the addition of a butler character for Arthur Treacher to play.
A movie that's been in the FXM rotation recently, but that I haven't mentioned here before is Devils of Darkness, which will be on at 1:30 PM Tuesday on FXM. William Sylvester plays Paul Baxter, an Englishman vacationing in a small town in Brittany with several of his friends. The town is populated by gypsies who are cult devotees of a vampire, Count Sinistre (Hubert Noël) and his gyspy wife Tania (Carole Gray). They're looking for people for human sacrifice (why there's such a mishmash of horror tropes I don't know), and the vacationers seem like a good choice. After a series of murders, Paul investigates and recovers a talisman that the cult had left behind, bringing it back to England with him. The bad Count is none too happy with this, and together with his followers goes to England to recover the talisman and gain revenge on Paul. Fox distributed quite a few lesser British movies in the 60s when Cleopatra was hemorrhaging money and the studio was in desperate need of product.
The term "gaslighting" has come into vogue recently. You probably know the Ingrid Bergman movie, but four years before that there was a British movie Gaslight. That British version will be on the week, at 6:15 PM Tuesday on TCM. Paul (Anton Walbrook) and Bella (Diana Wynyard) are a married couple who move into a house where a notorious murder was committed 20 years earlier. Bella has some mental problems, which are only encouraged by Paul. It turns out that the old lady who was murdered had won valuable jewels, and Paul Is convinced that the jewels are in the house still. Meanwhile former police detective Rough (Frank Pettingell) sees Paul and is certain that Paul is really the nephew of the dead woman and murdered her all those years ago. He's going to try to get proof of this, but can be do so before it's too late for Bella? This one has some differences from the more well-known 1944 version (such as less of a back story for the wife), but is just as good. The real original, though was a 1938 stage play.
The United Artists movies continue on TCM starting Wednesday morning; this week sees rooms from the 40s and 50s. One of the best is Paths of Glory, which will be on at 6:15 PM Wednesday. It's the middle of World War I, and the trench warfare is going nowhere. The generals back at headquarters don't seem to care, and one of them, Mireau (George Macready), orders a regiment to attack a German position just over a ridge, largely because he thinks he'll get a promotion from his boss (Adolphe Menjou). Col. Dax (Kirk Douglas) realizes it's pointless, but doesn't really have much choice. Sure enough the mission goes badly, and Mireau is pissed. So he orders a court martial, randomly selection three enlisted men (Ralph Meeker, Joe Turkel, and Timothy Carey!) to be put on trial for cowardice. It's up to Dad to defend the men, even though he knows this is pointless too. Stanley Kubrick directed this one near the beginning of his career, before his movies became bloated even if they're still considered masterpieces.
If you have the Epix package, one of the movies you can watch this week is So I Married an Axe Murderer, at 1:30 AM Thursday on Epix. Mike Myers plays Charlie Mackenzie, a latter-day beatnik poet/performance artist living in San Francisco. He meets butcher Harriet (Nancy Travis), and the two begin to fall in love. Charlie brings Harriet to meet his parents, and his mom May (Brenda Fricker) who is an avid reader of the Weekly World News points out an article about a mysterious Mrs. X who got married multiple times, only for her to disappear and the husbands to wind up dead. And as Charlie gets to know Harriet better, details of her life sound suspiciously like those of Mrs. X's life. Charlie tries to get his cop buddy Tony (Anthony LaPaglia) to get more information, but this doesn't help clear up the matter, until it might be too late to do anything about it if she really is the axe murderer Mrs. X. Several comics get cameo scenes, including Phil Hartman and Michael Richards, while Myers also plays the part of his father.
I mentioned Gaslight above as a movie based on a play. Another one is Madame X. The play was written in 1908 and the put on film a ridiculous number of times, with the best known version probably being the Lana Turner movie of 1966. However, TCM is running a morning and afternoon of the movies of Ruth Chatterton on Friday, so their running her 1929 version of Madame X at 6:00 AM Friday. Chatterton plays Jacqueline Floriot, a woman who married Louis (Lewis Stone), only to find it a loveless marriage that caused Jacqueline to stray. He throws her out, keeping custody of the son and sending Jacqueline on a downward spiral. Many years pass and Jacqueline has gone from place to place Larocque (Ulrich Haupt). By now the Floriot son Raymond (Raymond Hackett) is all grown up and a prominent lawyer. Larocque figures out the relationship and tries to blackmail Jacqueline, only to get murdered for his trouble. Jacqueline is on trial, and who winds up being her defense attorney? Why Raymond, of course! Melodramatic as hell, but an interesting early talkie.
The college football spotlight continues on Friday night on TCM with a couple of movies looking at the shadier side of the sport, including Saturday's Heroes at 12:30 AM Saturday. Van Heflin, who was 28 at the time, stars as Val Webster, quarterback at a successful football program. But he has constant money problems, so he decides to make money on the side by selling his complimentary tickets. When another player gets caught for different money shenanigans, Val's scalping comes to light, getting him kicked of the team. With the help of girlfriend Frances (Marian Marsh) and sports writer Red Watson (Richard Lane), Val concocts a scheme to blow the doors wide open on the corruption in the sport. It involves becoming a coach at his old school's biggest rival, which really doesn't make much sense, and beating his old school. 80 years on,and the problem of corruption in college football is no closer to being solved.
Finally, for those of you who want something silly, you could do worse than to watch Army of Darkness, which will be on StarzEncore Suspense at 4:11 AM Sunday. The third movie in the Evil Dead franchise, this one has Bruce Campbell reprising his role as Ash, who has been transported back to 1300 AD, where the Evil Dead are in conflict with Lord Arthur (Marcus Gilbert) and his forces of good. Ash kills one of the Deadites and is declared a hero for it, falling in love with Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) along the way. Ash wants to get back to the present, and the way to do it is to find the Necronomicon and carry out the proper spell from it. However, any number of things go wrong, resulting in the creation of an Evil clone of Ash as well as Sheila becoming a Deadite too after being kidnapped. To get back to modern times, Ash is going to have to lead the humans against the Deadites including his own clone and defeat them. It would be another 20 years before there was another film, and then a cable TV series, in the franchise.