Film on TV: November 21-27

And God Created Woman, playing Monday on TCM

My two main recommendations among the newly featured ones this week are both kind of French New Wave-esque, though on opposite ends of the spectrum. Roger Vadim’s And God Created Woman (playing Monday night on TCM) is a precursor to the New Wave, catapulting Brigitte Bardot to stardom while showcasing her sexuality in a way films hadn’t done much up to that point. Xavier Dolan’s Heartbeats (playing late Saturday on Sundance), released in 2010 and hailing from Quebec instead of France, is a stylistic throwback to the brighter, more colorful side of the New Wave. Both films are definitely worth checking out.

Monday, November 21

8:15am – MGM – Judgment at Nuremberg
As the Cold War heats up, Nazi war trials are still going on, with four lesser Nazi judges up for trial. Meanwhile, outside the courtoom, German citizens try to put their life back together, providing a contrast for the Nazi atrocities discussed and even shown as evidence in the court. Judy Garland gives one of her few purely dramatic performances, and go an Oscar nomination for it, no less, among an extremely talented and diverse cast (Maximillian Schell did win an Oscar for his role).
1962 USA. Director: Stanley Kramer. Starring: Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich, Maximillian Schell, Judy Garland, Montgomery Clift, William Shatner.
Newly Featured!

11:15am – TCM – The Naked Spur
One of several westerns that teamed director Anthony Mann and James Stewart in the 1950, this one is a fine example of the darker turn that both the western as a genre and Jimmy Stewart’s roles took in the hands of Anthony Mann. Stewart is a bitter bounty hunter who takes on two suspect partners to track down a fugitive – a wily man indeed who psychologically manipulates the three men into turning on each other.
1953 USA. Director: Anthony Mann. Starring: James Stewart, Janet Leigh, Robert Ryan, Ralph Meeker, Millard Mitchell.

11:35am – MGM – Manon of the Spring
The sequel to the equally good Jean de Florette (but not really dependent on it), this quiet and pastoral French film focuses on Jean’s daughter Manon, who tries to right the wrongs done to her father.
1986 France. Director: Claude Berri. Starring: Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Beart, Hippolyte Girardo.

1:00pm – TCM – Kiss Me Deadly
Iconic noir film, with hard-boiled action, nuclear paranoia, and one of the more memorable non-Hitchcock McGuffins in movie history. Plus some great LA locations. One of the pulpier noir films, and one of the most enjoyable.
1955 USA. Director: Robert Aldrich. Starring: Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, Paul Stewart, Cloris Leachman, Marian Carr.

2:00pm – Fox Movie – Bedazzled
One of the best films of the British mod era, a comedic take on Faust with Dudley Moore a socially inept guy infatuated with the unattainable (to him) Eleanor Bron – granted seven wishes by Satan (Peter Cook), he tries to wish his way to her, but somehow fails hilariously every time.
1967 USA. Director: Stanley Donen. Starring: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron.

3:00pm – TCM – Paths of Glory
A relatively early Kubrick film, with Kirk Douglas as a WWI army officer who defends his soldiers’ decsion to refuse an order to attack in an impossible situation, leading to court martial back at home. The combination of war and courtroom drama is very solid, as is the evocation of WWI and the almost complete disconnect between superiors planning attacks from safe bunkers and soldiers carrying them out in the trenches.
1957 USA. Director: Stanley Kubrick. Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Richard Anderson.

8:00pm – IFC – From Hell
Johnny Depp takes on the role of a troubled Victorian police detective on the trail of Jack the Ripper in this adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. Not quite as memorable as would hope, but worth a watch.
2001 USA. Directors: Albert and Allen Hughes. Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane.
(repeats at 12:35am on the 22nd)

10:30pm – IFC – Valhalla Rising
Nicholas Winding Refn’s nearly wordless take on the Viking action film, privileging visual storytelling and a somewhat surreal and philosophical feel.
2009 Denmark. Director: Nicholas Winding Refn. Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson, Alexander Morton.
(repeats at 3:05am on the 22nd)

12:00M – TCM – And God Created Woman
The film that really catapulted Brigitte Bardot to stardom, as a fickle and independent young woman who runs roughshod through a small seaside town, breaking hearts as she goes. She’s not simply a vamp, though, but a woman-child whose petulance gets her more than she bargains for. It’s an intriguing film, and not one easily pinned down – I still have my own doubts about the ending. But Bardot’s screen presence leaves no doubt at all.
1956 France. Director: Roger Vadim. Starring: Brigitte Bardot, Curd Jürgens, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jane Marken.
Newly Featured!

12:00M – MGM – Coming Home
One of the most highly acclaimed Vietnam home-front films, with Jane Fonda and Jon Voight both winning Oscars for their roles – Jane as a soldier’s wife with her husband away in Vietnam, Jon as war veteran with a paralyzing injury.
1978 USA. Director: Hal Ashby. Starring: Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Bruce Dern, Penelope Milford, Robert Carradine.

3:45am (22nd) – TCM – A Foreign Affair
A lesser Billy Wilder film, but Billy Wilder nonetheless, and though Jean Arthur’s opening plot line of an uptight congresswoman going to Berlin to “keep up morale” among the post-war occupying US soldiers (by which she really means “keep up morals”) gets old quickly, Marlene Dietrich’s worldly cabaret singer – and possible Nazi collaborator – keeps things interesting.
1948 USA. Director: Billy Wilder. Starring: Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, John Lund, Millard Mitchell.

Tuesday, November 22

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.
(repeats at 1:00pm)

8:00am – Fox Movie – Heaven Can Wait
In this unusual Lubitsch fantasy, a recently deceased man tries to convince Satan that he’s belongs in hell; unconvinced, Satan listens to him recount his life. As with anything Lubitsch, wit and sophistication abounds.1943 USA. Director: Ernst Lubitsch. Starring: Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn.

8:00pm – TCM – Sweet Smell of Success
One of the most acidically witty films of the 1950s, Sweet Smell of Success turns its gaze on Broadway gossip columnist Burt Lancaster, who connives with press agent Tony Curtis to break up his sister’s romance – a searing indictment of unscrupulous newspaper men, yes, and a bitingly funny one to boot.
1957 USA. Director: Alexander Mackendrick. Starring: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner, Sam Levene.

9:45pm – TCM – Red River
Howard Hawks’ brilliant transposition of Mutiny on the Bounty into the Old West has John Wayne as a tyrannical cattle drive leader and Montgomery Clift (in one of his earliest roles) as his adopted son who soon defies him.
1948 USA. Director: Howard Hawks. Starring: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru.
Must See

11:00pm – IFC – The Shining
Kubrick’s take on one of Stephen King’s most well-known novels may not stick that closely to King’s original story, but manages to capture the creepy factor of the Overlook Hotel and Jack Torrance’s descent into madness in a supremely cinematic way. Many memorable and disturbing scenes, and one of the few movies in which I actually like Jack Nicholson. So there’s that. Definitely not one to be missed.
1980 USA/UK. Director: Stanley Kubrick. Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers.
Must See
(repeats at 2:00am on the 23rd)

12:00M – Sundance – The Silence of the Lambs
Only three films have ever swept the top five Oscars (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay), and this is one of them, managing both to be a solid serial killer thriller and something more, in its exploration of psychosis and the demons we all hide inside ourselves.
1991 USA. Director: Jonathan Demme. Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine, Scott Glenn.
Must See
(repeats at 10:00pm on the 25th and 7:55pm on the 27th)

12:15am (23rd) – TCM – Gunga Din
Three British soldiers and an Indian water bearer join forces against an Indian cult gearing up for a murderous rampage. A classic adventure story, and one I should rewatch at some point.
1939 USA. Director: George Stevens. Starring: Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Sam Jaffe.

2:30am (23rd) – TCM – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Frank Capra puts on his idealist hat to tell the story of Jefferson Smith (James Stewart), an inexperienced young man appointed as a junior senator because the corrupt senior senator thinks he’ll be easy to control. But Smith doesn’t toe the party line, instead launching a filibuster for what he believes in. Wonderful comedienne Jean Arthur is the journalist who initially encourages Smith so she can get a great story from his seemingly inevitable downfall, but soon joins his cause.
1939 USA. Director: Frank Capra. Starring: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains, Eugene Pallette, Thomas Mitchell.
Must See

Wednesday, November 23

6:00am – Fox Movie – The Snake Pit
One of the earlier films to deal with the realities of mental illness seriously, with Olivia de Havilland as a woman in an insane asylum, brilliantly moving back and forth between lucidity and falling back in the fog of illness. She got an Oscar nom for her role, based on a true story.
1948 USA. Director: Anatole Litvak. Starring: Olivia de Havilland, Mark Stevens, Leo Genn, Celeste Holm.
(repeats at 12:00N on the 26th)

10:00am – TCM – The Adventures of Robin Hood
I will state almost categorically that this is the greatest adventure film ever made. Maybe it’s a dead heat between this one and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Errol Flynn is Robin Hood, Olivia de Havilland is Maid Marion, a whole raft of fantastic character actors fill out the rest of the cast, and it’s all done in gorgeous Technicolor (it’s one of the earliest Technicolor films).
1938 USA. Directors: William Keighley & Michael Curtiz. Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Eugene Pallette, Alan Hale, Patric Knowles, Una O’Connor.
Must See

12:30pm – 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.

2:00pm – TCM – Tarzan, the Ape Man
Get your pre-code action right here, as swimming champion Johnny Weissmuller brings Tarzan to life and Maureen O’Sullivan teaches him the ways of the human world as Jane. Generally, the sequel Tarzan and His Mate is considered the best of the series, but hey. Gotta start somewhere.
1932 USA. Director: W.S. Van Dyke. Starring: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan.

6:00pm – TCM – Mogambo
A remake of 1932’s Red Dust, also starring Gable, this suffers a bit in comparison by not being pre-Code, but with John Ford at the helm and Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly taking the Mary Astor/Jean Harlow roles, it can’t be all bad, and it isn’t. It’s still a solid little love triangle/adventure film.
1953 USA. Director: John Ford. Starring: Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly.

8:00pm – Fox Movie – The Verdict
Powerhouse filmmaker Sidney Lumet returns to his 12 Angry Men courtroom milieu for The Verdict, starring Paul Newman as an on-the-rocks lawyer who takes a medical malpractice suit to trial in a somewhat desperate attempt to salvage his career.
1982 USA. Director: Sidney Lumet. Starring: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden.

12:35am (24th) – Sundance – Summer Hours
In what sounds like a very beautiful and meditative film, Olivier Assayas explores a French family as the matriarch prepares for her own passing and then the actions of her family after she does. It got the Criterion treatment almost immediately upon release, which is enough for me to get excited on its own, but I’ve also heard really good things about it.
2008 France. Director: Olivier Assayas. Starring: Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, Jérémie Renier.

3:00am (24th) – TCM – My Favorite Wife
After being shipwrecked and believed dead for seven years, Irene Dunne returns home to her husband Cary Grant on the eve of his marriage to another woman. Oh, and she brought Randolph Scott, her fellow shipwreckee, with her. Hijinks ensue. Not quite as strong a screwball comedy as the earlier Grant-Dunne opus The Awful Truth, but still fun for fans of the genre.
1940 USA. Director: Garson Kanin. Starring: Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott, Gail Patrick.

4:30am (24th) – TCM – The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
In this slight but charming comedy, a nearly-grown-up Shirley Temple is the bobby-soxer crushing on Cary Grant’s bachelor, but he’s more interested in Temple’s sister Myrna Loy, a no-nonsense judge who’s caught Grant up on disorderly behavior more than once. There are a lot of great bits in here, including Grant’s attempt at the “man with the voodoo” patter.
1947 USA. Director: Irving Reis. Starring: Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Shirley Temple, Rudy Vallee.