[Every week I do a column at Row Three detailing the notable films playing on TV during the upcoming week. I will choose my top five recommendations from that list to specifically highlight here. Click through to see the full list.]
Tuesday at 8:00pm on TCM
A pulpy noir with Joan Crawford driving herself crazy (literally) pining over a man who strings her along. He’s basically an homme fatale, which is interesting, with Crawford taking on the typically male noir role of the one pulled into ever darker despair by trampled-on love. The film tries to do too much, throwing in all sorts of other noirish plot points, but remains a really good watch for noir fans.
1947 USA. Director: Curtis Bernhardt. Starring: Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, Raymond Massey, Geraldine Brooks.
West Side Story
Wednesday at 8:00pm on TCM
I unabashedly love musicals, Shakespeare, and stylized choreography. Hence, I love West Side Story. I wish Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood were a little more interesting as the leads, but the supporting cast is electrifying enough that it doesn’t much matter, especially with Bernstein and Sondheim music and Jerome Robbins choreography.
1961 USA. Director: Richard Wise & Jerome Robbins. Starring: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, Rita Moreno.
The Spiral Staircase
Thursday at 3:15pm on TCM
A classic example of the “old dark house” atmospheric thriller, with Dorothy Maguire as a mute domestic servant whose life is endangered when a serial killer seems to be targeting people with disabilities like her. In the subgenre of creepy old mansions horror films, this one is often mentioned right up there with The Haunting and The Innocents.
1945 USA. Director: Robert Siodmak. Starring: Dorothy Maguire, George Brent, Ethel Barrymore, Kent Smith, Rhonda Fleming, Elsa Lanchester.
Late Friday/Early Saturday at 2:30am on TCM
This is quite possibly the most insane movie I have ever seen. Japanese schoolgirls set to go on holiday arrive at the house where they plan to stay, and are beset by crazy cats, carnivorous pianos, deadly pools, and I don’t even remember what all else. As soon as you think Nobuhiko Ohbayashi has certainly included everything he could possibly think of, he throws in more stuff. It’s like he took every cinematic element ever and every filmmaking technique ever and just mashed them all up together into one glorious, ridiculous, amazing film. You gotta see it.
1977 Japan. Director: Nobuhiko Ohbayashi. Starring: Kimiko Ikegami, Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Ohba.
Sunday at 8:00pm on TCM
A ragtag group made up of a sheriff, a cripple, a drunk, and an untried youth guard a man in jail against the expected rescue attempts by his brother, the local bad guy. One of the most enjoyable westerns ever made, with all the actors having a great time with their characters.
1959 USA. Director: Howard Hawks. Starring: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Walter Brennan.