Film on TV: Jan 26 – Feb 1

Monday, January 26

9:45am – TCM – The Petrified Forest
Bette Davis and Leslie Howard are top billed in this 1936 crime drama, but the thing you’ll remember is Humphrey Bogart in his breakout role as criminal-on-the-run Duke Mantee. They’re all holed up in a remote gas station while Mantee figures out his scheme to escape the manhunt for him. He fairly sizzles on screen.

2:00am (27th) – TCM – From Here to Eternity
There’s the famous part, yes, where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr make love on the beach among the crashing waves. But there’s also a solid ensemble war tale, involving young officer Montgomery Clift and his naive wife Donna Reed, and embittered soldiers Frank Sinatra and Lee J. Cobb.

Tuesday, January 27

9:00am – IFC – Millions (repeats 2:30pm)
A young British boy finds millions of pounds a few days before the UK is set to switch to the Euro. A deceptively simple story because something more, in both style and substance, as director Danny Boyle brings his trademark visual panache and throws in an intriguing series of ethical dilemmas.

Wednesday, January 28

10:15am – TCM – Words and Music
MGM liked to do largely fictionalized composer biopics in the 1940s and ’50s, mostly because it gave them an opportunity to show off their stable of singing and dancing stars. Words and Music is their retelling of the career of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and it’s pretty routine. What isn’t routine is Gene Kelly and Vera-Ellen’s dazzling rendition of “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue,” a ten-minute dance number that is 100% worth the price of the film.

Thursday, January 29

4:15pm – TCM – Father of the Bride
Long before Steve Martin kicked of his now-twenty-year run of remaking classic comedies with his version of this film, Spencer Tracy was the Father of the Bride, dealing with the difficulty of letting his only daughter, Elizabeth Taylor, go to some other man. I don’t hate the Martin version, but this one is better. The family’s son is played by a young Russ Tamblyn (of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and West Side Story).

8:00pm – TCM – Annie Hall
I recommend this film every time. Just ’cause. Although the fact that TCM has played Annie Hall five or six times since I started writing these, and have only played Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters maybe once each? Bothering me a little. Balance, TCM, balance. Must See

11:45pm – TCM – The Apartment
I also recommend this one every time. Because it’s awesome. Must See

4:00am (30th) – TCM – The Clock
In 1945, Judy Garland took a break from doing all those wonderful musicals to do a purely dramatic film (in the capable directorial hands of her then-husband Vincente Minnelli). It worked out quite well, giving us this solid wartime romance between a soldier about to shove off and the girl he meets with only one day to spare.

Friday, January 30

12:45am (31st) – TCM – The Night of the Hunter
Actor Charles Laughton only directed one film in his career, this strange yet mesmerizing Southern gothic thriller. In one way, it’s easy to see why he never got another directing gig – the film is quite weird, and doesn’t fit easily into any genre that studios at the time knew how to produce. In another way, it’s a great pity we never got to see what else he could come up with, because Night of the Hunter is one of the most original and poetic films ever made. It starts off as a relatively straight suspenser, with conman-posing-as-a-preacher Robert Mitchum insinuating himself into a young family whose father died burying a heap load of stolen money (which Mitchum would like to have). Soon, however, it turns into a fantastic fable, rife with symbolism and images that will stay seared into your brain for ever. Must See

Saturday, January 31

1:30pm – TCM – Rear Window
Hitchcock, Stewart, and Kelly mix equal parts suspense thriller, murder mystery, romance, voyeristic expose, ethical drama, caustic comedy and cinematographic experiment to create my favorite film of all time. Must See

6:00pm – TCM – The Pink Panther
Many other film buffs would join me in citing Pink Panther sequel A Shot in the Dark as the best of the series, but the first entry is still well worth watching. Peter Sellers is perfect as bumbling detective Jacques Clouseau, trying to recover a stolen diamond for David Niven.

Sunday, February 1

12:15am – TCM – Network
Peter Finch is as mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. And when he eschews his news script to say so live on national TV, he starts a phenomenon that his network initially fears but soon embraces when they realize that they stand to get more viewers for a deranged newscaster than for the actual news. Finch won the first posthumous acting Oscar for his role – in fact, the only one until Heath Ledger likely wins one this year.