[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.]
The Petrified Forest
Tuesday at 8:00pm on TCM
Bette Davis and Leslie Howard are top billed in this 1936 crime drama, but the thing you’ll remember is Humphrey Bogart in his first major film 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.
1936 USA. Director: Archie Mayo. Starring: Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, Genevieve Tobin, Dick Foran.
Wednesday at 6:00am on TCM
Sullivan’s Travels is a slightly more serious turn for Preston Sturges, but ultimately upholds his comedic tendencies. Joel McCrea is a filmmaker known for his comedies who decides he wants to make a serious film about the depression; but as a successful Hollywood director, he doesn’t know anything about poverty and the working class, so he embarks on an odyssey to learn about them, picking up waifish Veronica Lake as a traveling companion.
1941 USA. Director: Preston Sturges. Starring: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Thursday at 8:00pm on TCM
A solidly entertaining and slyly witty film, quite worthy of being one of Howard Hawks’ few ventures into the musical genre. Marilyn Monroe gets probably her best role here – yes, better than Some Like It Hot for my money – and her wide-eyed dumb blonde show (which is exactly what it is, a show) is perfectly complemented by Jane Russell’s cynical but playful wit. Add in iconic moments like “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and you have a film that I refuse to call a guilty pleasure. It’s simply wonderful.
1954 USA. Director: Howard Hawks. Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Tommy Noonan, Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid.
The Naked Kiss
Late Friday/Early Saturday at 12:45am on TCM
The Naked Kiss signals its unconventionality right from opening credit sequence, which features a young woman beating the crap out of the camera, a stand-in, as we soon learn, for one of her male clients. She’s a prostitute, but she’s had enough of being misused and heads to a new town to start a new life as a teacher at a school for crippled children. Sounds hopeful, right? Wrong. Murder, pedophilia, and creepy scenes of kids singing creepy songs are in store. This is a really weird film that goes places you don’t really expect and yet remains utterly spellbinding pretty much the whole time.
1964 USA. Director: Samuel Fuller. Starring: Constance Towers, Anthony Eisley, Michael Dante, Virginia Grey, Patsy Kelly.
The Films of Georges Méliès
Sunday at 12:00M on TCM
According to the TCM website, this program of Méliès films includes 16 shorts total, including A Trip to the Moon. I’m not sure what the other 15 are, but I definitely say it’s worth checking this program out. Méliès was one of the first to realize the trickery that motion pictures were capable of, bringing his magician background onto the screen with some of the first special effects ever created. If you’ve seen Scorsese’s Hugo, you’ll know these films retain their magic, and it’s pretty rare for TCM to play a whole chunk of them like this.
roughly 1900-1905. Director: Georges Méliès.