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On TCM October 19-25: a mixed bag with Dietrich, Scotland, Robin Hood, and Horror

rancho2

“She runs the West’s strangest hideout… a ranch where a guest can hide his crime… quench his thirst… betray a woman… and knife a man in the back… for a price!”

Monday, October 19th

7:45am (PST) Rancho Notorious (1952) directed by Fritz Lang, with Marlene Dietrich, Arthur Kennedy, Mel Ferrer. It was originally titled The Legend of Chuck-a-Luck. Wow.

Monday evening, TCM continues their salute to David Niven with one of his bigger films.

5pm (PST) Around the World in 80 Days (1956) directed by Michael Anderson, with Cantinflas, Finlay Currie, Robert Morley

8:15pm (PST) My Man Godfrey (1957)—included as a warning rather than a recommendation, this is a poor remake of the 1936 film of the same name, with David Niven reprising the role played by William Powell in the earlier version.

12am (PST) Bonjour Tristesse (1958) directed by Otto Preminger, with Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Jean Seberg.

Tuesday, October 20

2am (PST) Home for the Holidays (1995) directed by Jodie Foster, with Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft. A very good film, with a great performance—as you’d expected—from Holly Hunter. It captures key aspects of the holiday experience. Not exactly a cheerful holiday film, but positive and real.

Errol Flynn as Robin Hood

Wednesday, October 21

3:45am (PST) The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) directed by Michael Curtiz, with Errol Flynn, Olivia De Havilland, Basil Rathbone. For me, one of the greatest films of all time.

On Wednesday night, TCM’s guest programmer is Nathan Lane, and he’s selected an amazing line-up:

5pm (PST) The Producers (1968) directed by Mel Brooks, with Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder, Dick Shawn. Nathan Lane of course played the role originated by Zero Mostel in the fairly recent remake. I didn’t watch it. Why bother? There’s no way this film could be improved upon.

6:45pm (PST) All The President’s Men (1976) directed by Alan J. Pakula. Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are Woodward and Bernstein, the Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate scandal and ultimately brought down President Nixon. Jason Robards Jr. plays the Post editor, Ben Bradlee.

9:15pm (PST) Being There (1979) directed by Hal Ashby, with Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas. An arresting performance by Sellers as Chance, the gardener.

11:30pm (PST) City Lights (1931)—Charlie Chaplin. Ranked 30th on Sight & Sound‘s Director’s Poll of the greatest films of all time: “The Tramp wins the affections of a blind flower seller (Virginia Cherrill) in this hilarious but heartbreaking comedy – one of Charlie Chaplin’s uncontested masterpieces.”

1:15am (PST) La Cage Aux Folles (1979) directed by Edouard Molinaro, with Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault. Another terrific film whose remake featured Nathan Lane. The remake, which also starred Robin Williams, is not bad, but I think the original is still better.

Thursday, October 22

It’s all Scotland, all day on TCM on Thursday, for some reason.

3:15am (PST) Bonnie Scotland (1935)—Laurel & Hardy

4:45am (PST) Mary of Scotland (1936) directed by John Ford, with Katharine Hepburn and Fredric March. Despite generally positive reviews, this film was a bit of a commercial flop and led to Hepburn being labelled as “box office poison.”

12:30pm (PST) Brigadoon (1954)—with Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse, and Vincente Minnelli directing, this should be a knockout. It’s not, but it’s enjoyable enough.

Edgar Allan Poe

Friday, October 23

Getting in the mood for Halloween, TCM presents a night of “literary horror” on Friday. For my money, you can skip the version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde showing at 5pm, but the rest of the evening offers more rewarding fare.

7:30pm The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) directed by William Dieterle, with Charles Laughton, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Thomas Mitchell. The silent version with Lon Chaney is terrific, a genuine classic, and the Disney version is not terrible, but this pretty much stands as the definitive screen version of Victor Hugo’s novel.

9:45pm (PST) The Fall Of The House Of Usher (1949) directed by Ivan Barnett, with Gwen Watford, Kay Tendeter, Irving Steen. Solid film adaptation of the story by Edgar Allan Poe, who largely created the genres of horror and mystery writing.

11pm (PST) The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) directed by Albert Lewin, with George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed. There’s something a bit perverse about the combination of Oscar Wilde and Donna Reed… But George Sanders, Angela Lansbury and Peter Lawford are predictably excellent and it’s a fine adaptation of the story.

1am (PST) The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)—with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee (aka Doctor Who/Grand Moff Tarkin and Saruman). The first color horror film from Hammer, and the first of their Frankenstein series. Selecting this as the representative of Mary Shelley’s tale for TCM’s “literary horror” feature is a bit of a questionable choice—there are a number of better, more literary versions of the book—but for fans of monster movies, this film is fun.

Ride Lonesome

Saturday, October 24

A day of Westerns followed by a night of Oskar Homolka

8:45am (PST) Ride Lonesome (1959) directed by Budd Boetticher, with Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, Pernell Roberts. A solid entry in the Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott cycle of 1950s Westerns.

10:15am (PST) 3:10 to Yuma (1957) directed by Delmer Daves, with Glenn Ford, Van Heflin, Felicia Farr. The remake might not have been terrible, but you owe it to yourself to see the original. Delmer Daves is one of the great directors of the Western and this film shows why.

12pm (PST) The Big Sky (1952) directed by Howard Hawks, with Kirk Douglas, Dewey Martin, Elizabeth Threatt. Minor Howard Hawks, but any Hawks is worth a look.

2:30pm (PST) The Cowboys (1972) directed by Mark Rydell, with John Wayne, Roscoe Lee Browne, Bruce Dern. An important late Western.

5pm (PST) I Remember Mama (1948) directed by George Stevens, with Irene Dunne, Barbara Bel Geddes, Oscar Homolka. Norwegian immigrants face the trials of family life in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Barbara Bel Geddes plays Midge in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, so she’s a real San Francisco gal.

7:30pm (PST) Comrade X (1940) directed by King Vidor. A fun film that never quite lives up to the excellent cast, which includes Clark Gable, Hedy Lamarr, Oscar Homolka, Eve Arden, and Felix Bressart. Th similarity of the plot to that of Ninotchka are underscored by the inclusion of Bressart, so marvelous as Buljanoff in that film.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Sunday, October 25

This is the standout day of this week’s programming on TCM.

8am (PST) Topaze (1933)—John Barrymore is superb in this film adaptation of Marcel Pagnol’s play about an impeccably honest but naive schoolteacher in France who unwittingly becomes a dupe for wealthy baron’s business scheme. Also starring Myrna Loy. This version (as opposed to the French one, made the same year and directed by Pagnol himself) does not appear to be available on DVD, so this is a rare opportunity to see it.

11:15am (PST) Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)—Fourth outing in the hit “Thin Man” series with William Powell and Myrna Loy as high society sleuths, Nick and Nora Charles. And their little dog, too.

1pm (PST) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) is a charming romantic/slapstick comedy starring Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, and Boris Karloff. The film departs significantly from the James Thurber story on which it’s based, with changes made to highlight Danny Kaye’s skills and appeal. Don’t even talk to me about the remake.

3pm (PST) Jailhouse Rock (1957)—one of Elvis Presley’s films, probably the best of them even though Ann-Margaret isn’t in it.

5pm (PST) Broken Arrow (1950)—two of the greatest names in American Westerns: director Delmer Daves, and James Stewart. Also starring Jeff Chandler and Debra Paget. Stewart is a former soldier who sets out to broker a peace between white settlers and the Apache, and Jeff Chandler (in a piece of casting that hopefully would be unthinkable today) is the Apache chief, Cochise. Surprisingly authentic (aside from the casting), this film shows the changes in attitudes toward Native Americans that would become more marked in subsequent movies. Although credited to Michael Blankfort, the screenplay was actually written by blacklistee Albert Maltz, which may account for the more accurate and sensitive portrayal.

Pick of the Week

Anytime The Adventures of Robin Hood is showing, it’s going to be one of my personal picks of the week. I can still remember the first time I saw it, young as I was, but it never gets old for me.

Lady Marian: Why, you speak treason!
Robin Hood: Fluently

The Producers, 3:10 to Yuma, Broken Arrow… Any of them would make fine picks of the week, too, and are definite must sees—the latter two being particularly crucial for an appreciation of the Western. But for purely personal reasons, I’m going to go with I Remember Mama. I haven’t seen it in decades and it seems due for revisiting, and I’ve been thinking recently about doing something on San Francisco films.

But if you’re looking for critically-acclaimed masterpieces of world cinema, then the Pick of the Week for you is Chaplin’s City Lights.

For more…

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zerode by nick chapman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Oh - and hello to Jason Isaacs.

The 400 Blows

zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, cinéaste, and former poet. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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