Film on TV: August 15-21

A-Place-in-the-Sun.jpg
A Place in the Sun, playing on TCM on Saturday

If there were ever a good week to just tune your TV to TCM and leave it there, it may be this week. Actually, that’s usually a good thing to do, but I digress. This week the Summer Under the Stars includes heavy hitters like Humphrey Bogart on Wednesday and Cary Grant on Sunday, with plenty of crime, adventure, romance, and comedy to go around. Plus silent monsters on Monday with Lon Chaney, dramas on Tuesday with Joanne Woodward, a taste of classic French cinema with Jean Gabin (including two Jean Renoir films) on Thursday, musicals and comedies on Friday with Debbie Reynolds, and more drama on Saturday with Montgomery Clift. The other channels have their usual repeats.

Monday, August 15

11:00am – TCM – He Who Gets Slapped
Lon Chaney in a non-horror role, but still a quite dark one, playing an inventor whose public humiliation drives him to become a circus clown, reliving that humiliation night after night. An early film for Norma Shearer.
1924 USA. Director: Victor Sj&ocuml;strom. Starring: Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, John Gilbert, Ruth King.
Newly Featured!

12:15pm – MGM – Radio Days
This essentially plotless Woody Allen film consists of a series of nostalgic vignettes about a 1940s working class New York family. The title comes from their love for the radio, the center of pop culture at the time; the radio also provides the subplot following Mia Farrow as a wanna-be radio singer who gets mixed up with gangsters. It’s not particularly deep, but it’s also pretty enjoyable.
1987 USA. Director: Woody Allen. Starring: Julie Kavner, Mia Farrow, Seth Green, Dianne Wiest.

1:50pm – MGM – The Purple Rose of Cairo
A love letter to cinema, The Purple Rose of Cairo has Woody Allen at his most romantic. Unhappy housewife Cecilia (Mia Farrow) escapes to the cinema to see The Purple Rose of Cairo again and again, where she fantasizes over hunky character Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels). Much to her surprise (and the other characters’ consternation), Baxter steps off the screen to join her. It makes it even more complicated when Gil, the actor who played Baxter, turns up as well.
1985 USA. Director: Woody Allen. Starring: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello.
(repeats at 4:20am on the 18th)

2:30pm – Fox Movie – I Wake Up Screaming
Better known for bright and sunny musicals, Betty Grable took a turn for the noir in this crime film, playing the sister of a recently-murdered model with a rising career. It’s a slight noir, but fun nonetheless, especially for the chance to see Grable in a role unusual for her.
1942 USA. Director: H. Bruce Humberstone. Starring: Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis.
(repeats at 6:00am on the 16th)

6:00pm – Fox Movie – Call Northside 777
One of Jimmy Stewart’s first films after spending the war as a fighter pilot; he plays a reporter compelled to reopen an eleven-year-old murder case, coming to believe the wrong man was sentenced to life in prison. A good combo of film noir and mystery.
1948 USA. Director: Henry Hathaway. Starring: James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb.
(repeats at 9:30am on the 16th)

8:00pm – TCM – The Hunchback of Notre Dame
There have been a bunch of adaptations of Victor Hugo’s novel about the outcast Parisian hunchback, but this is one of the earliest and continues to be highly regarded, thanks in no small part to Lon “Man of a Thousand Faces” Chaney’s portrayal of Quasimodo.
1923 USA. Director: Wallace Worsley. Starring: Lon Chaney, Patsy Ruth Miller, Norman Kerry, Nigel De Bruller.

10:00pm – TCM – The Phantom of the Opera
Celebrated silent horror star Lon Chaney plays the titular phantom in this possibly best version of the oft-filmed story.
1924 USA. Director: Rupert Julian. Starring: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry.

Tuesday, August 16

6:00pm – Sundance – The Piano
I often find Jane Campion films overly pretentious, but this one strikes the right chord, with Holly Hunter as a mute woman in an arranged marriage who finds love with one of her husbands’ hired hands – but stealing the show is her young daughter, an Oscar-winning performance by Anna Paquin.
1993 New Zealand. Director: Jane Campion. Starring: Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin.

7:55pm – MGM – Blow Out
Sound man John Travolta is recording sound samples one night, and may have accidentally recorded a murder occurring. As he tries to investigate, he’s drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. Inspired to some degree by Antonioni’s photography-based Blow-Up, but this is definitely DePalma’s film all the way.
1981 USA. Director: Brian DePalma. Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz.
(repeats at 9:55am on the 21st)

Wednesday, August 17

6:00am – IFC – Away from Her
A very strong directing debut film from actress Sarah Polley, about an older woman (Julie Christie) suffering from Alzheimer’s and her husband’s difficulty in dealing with essentially the loss of his wife as she has more and more difficulty remembering their life together. It’s a lovely, heartbreaking film, bolstered by great understated performances.
2006 Canada. Director: Sarah Polley. Starring: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis, Stacey LaBerge.

10:45am – IFC – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Julian Schnabel’s intensely moving retelling of the true story of Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was almost completely paralyzed in a car accident, able only to move his left eye. The impressionist storytelling lends an otherworldly beauty to the film, already solid due to the script and acting.
2007 France. Director: Julian Schnabel. Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josee Croze.
Must See
(repeats at 3:30pm)

11:00am – TCM – To Have and Have Not
It’s said that this film came about because Howard Hawks bet Earnest Hemingway that he (Hawks) could make a good film out of Hemingway’s worst book. Of course, to do that, Hawks ended up basically changing the story entirely, but hey. It’s the thought that counts. Mostly notable for being Lauren Bacall’s first film, the one where she met Humphrey Bogart, and the one that spawned the immortal “you know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve” bit of dialogue. That one scene? Worth the whole film.
1944 USA. Director: Howard Hawks. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan.

12:45pm – TCM – The Big Sleep
One of the greatest detective/mysteries/films noir ever made. Humphrey Bogart is the definite hard-boiled detective, Lauren Bacall is the potential love interest/femme fatale. Don’t try to follow the story; whodunit is far less important than crackling dialogue and dry humor. Watch out for future Oscar-winner Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind) in the small but extremely memorable part of the bookshop girl.
1946 USA. Director: Howard Hawks. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Martha Vickers, Elisha Cook Jr., Dorothy Malone.
Must See

2:45pm – TCM – High Sierra
Bogart’s breakout role as an on-the-run con man who gets involved with the lame Joan Leslie. (No, I mean actually crippled.) He’d been bumming around for a few years as a Warner second lead or villain, but with 1941’s double punch of High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon, he unequivocally arrived.
1941 USA. Director: Raoul Walsh. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Joan Leslie, Ida Lupino.

4:30pm – TCM – They Drive By Night
Humphrey Bogart and George Raft play truck driver brothers, trying to get ahead before they get killed (who knew truck driving was so dangerous?), or, you know, framed into murder plots by Ida Lupino – their boss’s wife who has amorous designs on Raft, despite his much healthier relationship with a young Ann Sheridan. Not a great movie, but a solid example of Warner’s pre-noirish studio style.
1940 USA. Director: Raoul Walsh. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, Ida Lupino, Ann Sheridan.

4:30pm – MGM – Fiddler on the Roof
A Tzarist-era Russian Jewish village doesn’t seem a particularly likely place to set a musical, but Fiddler on the Roof does a good job of it, exploring the clashing cultures as patriarch Tevye tries to marry his daughters off to good Jewish husbands with decreasing success.
1971 USA. Director: Norman Jewison. Starring: Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey, Rosalind Harris, Michele Marsh, Neva Small, Michael Glaser.

6:00pm – IFC – Thank You For Smoking
Jason Reitman’s breakout film was also one of my favorites of 2005 – sure, it’s a bit slight and isn’t perfect, but its story of a hotshot PR guy working for cigarette companies struck just the right note of cynical and absurd humor. The really high-quality cast doesn’t hurt either, with everybody, no matter how small their role, making a memorable impression.
2005 USA. Director: Jason Reitman. Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Katie Holmes, Rob Lowe, Maria Bello, David Koechner, J.K. Simmons, Adam Brody, Sam Elliott.

6:15pm – TCM – In a Lonely Place
Simply a brilliant film from director Nicholas Ray – Humphrey Bogart gives probably his best performance as washed-up screenwriter Dixon Steele, who’s trying to make a comeback with a new adaptation. When a coatcheck girl gets murdered after he was the last to see her, he naturally comes under suspicion, but his neighbor Laurel (Gloria Grahame) gives him an alibi and soon the two begin a relationship which just might save Dix from more than a murder charge – or might not. There’s a raw intensity here that few films have ever matched.
1951 USA. Director: Nicholas Ray. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame.
Must See

8:00pm – TCM – The Maltese Falcon
Humphrey Bogart inhabits the role of Dashiell Hammett’s private eye Sam Spade, creating one of the definitive on-screen hard-boiled detective (vying only with Bogart’s Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep, really). Not mention setting the early benchmark for noir films.
1941 USA. Director: John Huston. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Elisha Cook Jr, Walter Huston.
Must See

2:00am (18th) – TCM – The Caine Mutiny
Humphrey Bogart’s Captain Queeg is a piece of work, and by that I mean some of the best work Bogart has on film. He’s neurotic, paranoid, and generally mentally unstable. Or is he? That’s the question after first officer Van Johnson relieves him of duty as being unfit to serve and faces charges of mutiny.
1954 USA. Director: Edward Dmytryk. Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, Jose Ferrer.

2:00am (18th) – IFC – Requiem for a Dream
Darren Aronofsky’s breakthrough film (Pi remains a cult favorite) follows a quartet of people as their lives spiral out of control due to drug addiction.
2000 USA. Director: Darren Aronofsky. Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans.