[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.]
A Face in the Crowd
Wednesday at 8:00pm on TCM
A rare film role for homespun comedian Andy Griffith really shows his chops as he plays an Ozark hobo who becomes an overnight sensation on radio and TV; when the fame and power starts going to his head, the film shows the cynical dark underbelly of media sensations. One of the recently late Patricia Neal’s best roles, too, as the girl who discovers him.
1957 USA. Director: Elia Kazan. Starring: Andy Griffith, Patricia Neal, Anthony Franciosa, Walter Matthau, Lee Remick.
Thursday at 11:15am on TCM
What sounds like a B-level prison exploitation film is actually a cut above, thanks to solid, if not glossy, production values and strong performances from Eleanor Parker as a naive woman hardened by her incarceration and Agnes Moorehead as the kinder-than-she-seems warden. This one surprised me with how enjoyable and nuanced it was, for little more than a B picture.
1950 USA. Director: John Cromwell. Starring: Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby, Hope Emerson, Jan Sterling.
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Late Thursday/Early Friday at 12:15am on TCM
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.
Barbara Stanwyck Pre-Codes
Friday at 8:00pm on TCM
Okay, it’s stuff like this that make me regret cutting cable (yes, that’s right, I continue to do these columns even though I can’t watch any of them – it’s exquisite masochism) – four Barbara Stanwyck Pre-Codes, none of which I’ve seen. Stanwyck is one of my all-time favorite actresses, and when she’s allowed to really go all-out, as she could before the Production Code cracked down, she’s absolutely mesmerizing no matter how banal the material might be. I don’t really know much about these movies. But I don’t need to in order to be extremely jealous of people who have the ability to watch this set of films this week.
includes Shopworn, Ten Cents a Dance, Illicit, Forbidden
The Great Escape
Sunday at 8:00pm on TCM
I expected to mildly enjoy or at least get through this POW escape film. What happened was I was completely enthralled with every second of it, from failed escape attempts to planning the ultimate escape to the dangers of carrying it out. It’s like a heist film in reverse, and extremely enjoyable in pretty much every way.
1963 USA. Director: John Sturges. Starring: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn, James Donald.