Weekly DVD Alert Twenty-One: April 27-May 3, 2010



Check your local listings, etc.

By the time this is published, I will be on the road to Oregon and a life without television -- so, this is my last DVD Alert for the foreseeable future. It's been fun and surprisingly educational for me, but it would be discouraging quick to write about movies and other programs that I'd love to see but can't. Someday, I will get cable again, and I will see GORILLA AT LARGE without a trace of irony.


Tuesday April 27


5:45AM-6:45AM, Sun: AGNES MARTIN: WITH MY BACK TO THE WORLD, 56m.
Mary Lance's portrait of the Canadian minimalist/abstract-expressionist painter.

6AM-8AM, TCM: EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE, 108m.
8AM-10AM, TCM: GILDA, 110m.
A glamourous double-feature. SIDE is a zippy Mervyn LeRoy/James Mason vehicle showcasing Barbara Stanwyck, Cyd Charisse and Ava Gardner dressed to the nines in nearly every frame. GILDA is the Charles "King" Vidor/Glenn Ford vehicle that frames Rita Hayworth at her hottest. It's mind-boggling to realize that Hayworth was several months pregnant when she performed the black-satin "Put The Blame On Me" production number.

6:05AM-8AM, IFC: THE FIELD, 113m.
I'm pretty sure a movie can't get more Irish than this unless someone in Craft Services dies from a potato famine. Richard Harris faces off against Tom Berenger over ownership of a gawd-forsaken patch of rocky farmland. John Hurt provides support as the village idiot. [Reairs at 11:30AM.]

Noon-2PM, Sun: CRAZY LOVE, 92m.
A documentary about one of the only tabloid stories with sturdier legs than O.J. Simpson and Jon-Bonet Ramsey: Burt Pugash was a fairly sleazy NYC lawyer who cheated on his wife with a young woman named Linda Riss. Riss found out that Pugash was married and broke off the relationship, and Pugash did what any man would do in his situation; he hired some guys to throw lye in Riss' face, leaving her half-blind and horribly scarred. Pugash served 14 years in jail for the attack, and wrote Riss scads of letters from his cell. I won't give away the ending, which may be an ideal Rorschach blot for gauging one's sense of romance. [Reairs at 6:25PM.]

2PM-4PM, FMC: OUR MAN FLINT, 108m.
When no one's looking, I try to rewrite film histories to claim this 1966 James Coburn vehicle as a remake of ALPHAVILLE. [Reairs on May 1st at 4PM and on May 29th at Noon.]

4PM-6PM, FMC: H.E.A.L.T.H., 105m.
In the abstract, this should be fantastic: A ensemble comedy about a health-food convention by Robert Altman in his prime, with a cast boasting of James Garner, Carol Burnett, Alfre Woodard, Lauren Bacall, Paul Dooley, Donald Moffat, Henry Gibson, Dick Cavett, Dinah Shore, et al. It was better than I remembered -- saggy and directionless -- but it doesn't have a puncher's chance at surpassing your expectations. FYI: I understand that securing the rights to show the many real-world health-food logos and references may prove too difficult for the film to ever see a commercial DVD release any time soon. [Reairs on May 4th at 4PM.]

4PM-6:15PM, TCM: THE COBWEB, 124m.
Another one of those impeccably-staffed movies whose lack of reputation probably flags it as a misfire: Vincente Minnelli directs, Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall and Gloria Grahame star.

5:05PM-6:45AM, IFC: A FISH CALLED WANDA, 98m.
Just a fun post-Python heist farce. "Heist farce" is grammatically clumsy sounding, but I like that it sounds like the title of a Ron Rege parody. Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin star.

6PM-8PM, FMC: GUILTY CONSCIENCE
It sounds like another cheap '80s made-for-TV movie, which it probably was, but it also sounds like an ideal vehicle for a leading actor with chops, which it has: Anthony Hopkins plays a brilliant lawyer who decides to kill his wife. He mentally puts himself on trial over and over to find the perfect alibi before he does the deed. Blythe Danner and Swoosie Kurtz co-star under David Greene's direction. [Reairs on May 10th at 6PM.]

7PM-9PM, IFC: BRITANNIA HOSPITAL, 115m.
The less-than-stellar third film in a trilogy of collaborations between director Lindsay Anderson and leading man Malcolm McDowell suffers in comparison not only to IF… and O LUCKY MAN, but a bit to Arthur Hiller and Paddy Chayefsky's similar dark comedy, THE HOSPITAL.

8:30PM-9:30PM, Sun: CITIES ON SPEED "Mumbai Disconnected," 59m.
Episode Two of this series of documentaries about emerging mega-cities that are growing too fast to properly sustain itself. [Shouldn't it be called CITIES ON STEROIDS?] Mumbai is so congested with people that its trains are dangerously overcrowded, the roads are almost totally gridlocked but NIMBY bullshit is global so solutions to this nearly existential threat to its citizens remain politically untenable. [Reairs at 11:40PM.]

10PM-11PM, ESPNC: 30 for 30 "Without Bias"
What has to be an interesting documentary about the late Len Bias, whose overdose death is still pretty shocking almost 25 years later. Kirk Fraser directs.

10PM-Midnight, SHO2: SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING "Edwin Valero vs. Antonio DeMarco"
Edwin Valero's American-television coming-out party … and last hurrah before he reportedly stabbed his wife to death and committed suicide in his jail cell the next day. It's a terrible idea for him to move up in weight as fast as he can when he's still a young man and one hell of a banger as a lightweight. Then again, he's currently in a court-ordered drug rehabilitation facility as a result of being arrested following a scuffle with hospital staff after his wife was admitted with serious bruises & cuts and collapsed lung, so we may not be seeing the caveman for a while.


Wednesday April 28


2AM-4AM, FMC, THE VAN, 100m.
The final part of Roddy Doyle's "Barrytown Trilogy," [following THE COMMITMENTS and THE SNAPPER] is a more straightforward comedy about two goofs deciding to make their living selling fish & chips out of a van. Colm Meaney and Donal O'Kelly star, and Stephen Frears directs from Doyle's screenplay adaptation of his novel. [Reairs on May 25th at 2AM.]

6:30AM-8:15AM, TCM: PARTY GIRL, 99m.
Nicholas Ray makes something out of a mishmash of a gangster movie and a vehicle for acting dancer Cyd Charisse. Robert Taylor and Lee J. Cobb co-star.

6:50AM-8:30AM, Sun: JUMP TOMORROW, 97m.
I'm a sucker for multi-national, indie romantic comedies set in upstate New York, especially when they are occasionally funny and have a leading lady like Natalia Verbeke with support from character actors like Hippolyte Girardot and the old man who plays the deaf grandfather. [Reairs at 12:05PM.]

7PM-10PM, Sun: INLAND EMPIRE, 180m.
David Lynch & Laura Dern's epic-length movie about a movie. Jeremy Irons co-stars. [Reairs at 1:20AM.]

8PM-10PM, TCM: MIDNIGHT, 94m.
10PM-Midnight, TCM: ARISE, MY LOVE, 106m.
Mitchell Leisen is an interesting case: an art director turned director, who worked with several of the best romantic-comedy writers [frustrated enough to become writer-directors soon after] in the Golden Age of studio-era Hollywood, like Preston Sturges and, in the case of these movies, the team of Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder. Leisen seems to have been a favorite of Claudette Colbert, having worked with him on a half-dozen films; she stars in both of these movies. Don Ameche and John Barrymore costar in MIDNIGHT; Ray Milland is her leading man in ARISE. [MIDNIGHT reairs on May 3rd at 4:15PM.]

10PM-Midnight, FMC: THE COMMITMENTS, 118m.
This adaptation of Roddy Doyle's story about a ragtag bunch of Dublin aspiring musicians assembled to form a classic-soul band is charming and fun, and unique in that it may be the only film adaptation that takes more time to ingest than the original book does. Director Alan Parker and screenwriters Doyle, Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais score major points with me for using "Mustang Sally" as the first song the band tries to play, as it's a tune that can be mauled and defaced enough. Even Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, Albert Collins and the Coasters can't make that song not bite into a wet bag of shit. [Reairs on May 15th at 3:30AM, on May 24th at 10PM and on May 25th at 4AM.]

10PM-11PM, ESPNC: 30 FOR 30 "The Legend of Jimmy the Greek"
I enjoyed this look at television's greatest/only oddsmaker Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder, although I wonder if the filmmakers made a mistake trying to frame the Greek as almost a Cosell-level transcendent figure ... or if I'm just projecting that onto the film. Regardless, televised sports lost a big piece of its soul the day that they stopped including betting breakdowns on their pre-shows.

11:45PM-1:30AM, Sun: OSS 117: CAIRO - NEST OF SPIES, 95m.
Michel Hazanavicius and Jean Dujardin team up to make this amusing French spy comedy. Some funny jokes, some funny-looking character actors, some very cute girls and some great '50s style and design -- I may not ask much from my spy comedies but this one did not let me down, even when I thought about the movie a while after I saw it.


Thursday April 29


1:30AM-3:35AM, TCM: TO EACH HIS OWN, 122m.
Mitchell Leisen and Charles Brackett are back with a surprisingly gentle, beautiful, slightly bloated drama about a single mother's struggle to stay in her son's life. As always, Olivia de Havilland acts the crap out of a role that lets her walk the line between fragile and courageous. John Lund and Roland Culver costar.

9AM-10:30AM, FMC: THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET, 88m.
Torn from still-wet headlines and widely cited as the first modern-style docudrama, this 20th Century Fox potboiler is about Nazi secret agents tearassing around NYC trying to steal our atomic-bomb secrets. Leo G. Carroll, William Blythe, Signe Hasso, Gene Lockhart star [with a very young E.G. Marshall making his screen debut] under the direction of Henry Hathaway. [Reairs on May 10 at 9:30AM and on May 28 at 6AM.]

9:20AM-10:35AM, RetroPlex: SHERLOCK HOLMES IN DRESSED TO KILL, 71m.
Basil Rathbone's final film performance as the super-detective.

10AM-12PM, IFC: BEYOND THE SEA, 118m.
I guess this is supposed to be a huge bomb and an embarrassment? Really? Much like ISHTAR, which is a fine movie [Criterion/Eclipse would do well to release a box of Elaine May's four movies as a writer-director], this Kevin Spacey vehicle is quite enjoyable if you ignore all the horseshit surrounding its reception. Bob Hoskins, Caroline Aaron, John Goodman and Kate Bosworth co-star. [Reairs at 5:15PM.]

6:30PM-8:30PM, Sun: STARTING OUT IN THE EVENING, 111m.
This May-December romance edges close to the MANHATTAN syndrome -- it's not Woody Allen's fault that two generations of filmmakers think that if they set their movie in New York City, it has to be both one of the main characters in the story and a source for musical montages that do nothing but remind the audience HEY WE'RE IN NYC ISN'T IT GREAT THIS MUSIC WAS PROBABLY RECORDED HERE TOO -- but EVENING's heart is too melancholy and its characters too vividly aware of how much they've compromised and lost for any Gershwin or jaunty pop music to play over montages of NYC streets. The movie also won over my cold, dead heart by establishing a Magic Pixie Girl™ who's sure to bring the old turtle of a male lead out of his shell and learn to live and love again … and then stymy her efforts at nearly every turn. Now there's a NYC I'd like to live in. Frank Langella, Lauren Ambrose and Lili Taylor star in producer Fred Parnes and director Andrew Wagner's adaptation of Brian Morton's novel.

11:25PM-1AM, Sun: TURN THE RIVER, 92m.
Asshole-character actor Chris Eigeman made his writer-director debut with this small, Cassavettes-esque drama about a lady pool shark looking to make one big score and leave town with her son. Famke Janssen, Rip Torn and Jaymie Dornan star.


Friday April 30


12:15AM-2AM, TCM: HITLER, 103m.
A 1962 portrait of everyone's favorite dictator; I know nothing about the movie, but if Richard Basehart played Hitler, I bet he's amazing at it. I agree with Frederico Fellini, who courted Baseheart hard to cast him as The Fool in LA STRADA; Fellini made his case to Baseheart being able to play the role "Because if you did what you did in FOURTEEN HOURS, you can do anything." Maria Emo and Celia Lovsky costar under Stuart Heisler's direction of a script by Sam Neuman and E. Charles Straus.

12:30AM-2AM, IFC: THE RAZOR: SWORD OF JUSTICE, 89m.
The first in the rapetastic "Hanzo" samurai trilogy, a definite Midnite Movie. Kazuo Koike adapts his original manga, Kenji Misumi directs and Shintaro Katsu produces and stars.

2:30AM-3AM, IFC: THE HENRY ROLLINS SHOW
Rollins chats with William Shatner -- the very idea of it makes at least a dozen people I know swoon. I am not one of them, but FYI.

4:15AM-6:15AM, TCM: THE STORY OF G.I. JOE, 108m.
As enjoyable as it is to see Burgess Meredith play an iconic Ernie Pyle and a Robert Mitchum at his most energized, the snappy quips taken straight from Bill Mauldin's WILLIE & JOE cartoons come a little too regularly for me to completely accept this movie as more than a well-made but still Hollywood war movie. A war movie drawn straight from Pyle would be a very different animal. William A. Wellman directs.

9AM-11AM, TCM: COVER GIRL, 107m.
A fine romantic vehicle for Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth, with support from Eve Arden and Phil Silvers and direction from Charles "King" Vidor. [Reairs on May 3rd at 11:30PM.]

10:05AM-11:35PM, IFC: SLEEPER, 88m.
Even now, if Woody Allen made a sci-fi sex comedy, I would probably watch it. Eventually. Diane Keaton co-stars. [Reairs at 3:45PM.]

11:35AM-12:45PM, IFC: REEFER MADNESS, 67m.
The 1936 original propaganda film; because we all have blank DVDs with a little more than an hour of free time left on them. Tell Your Children! The part where Kenneth Craig is sucking on a joint and making the pianist play faster and faster kills me every time.

12:45PM-2:15 PM, TCM: IT SHOULD HAPPEN TO YOU, 87m.
A late-model George Cukor, starring a prime Judy Holliday, a young Jack Lemmon and the usual Peter Lawford.

10PM-11PM, SHO2: SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING "Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez I & II"
11PM-1AM, SHO: SHOBOX: THE NEW GENERATION
Just a nice little night at the fights, spanned across two channels: a rerun of the first two of the Marquez-Vazquez wars, followed by a new fight card on the main channel featuring boxers with names you probably kinda sorta recognize.


Saturday May 1


2:15AM-3:45AM, TCM: INCUBUS, 74m.
3:45AM-5:30AM, TCM: THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN, 93m.
5:30AM-6AM, TCM: TCM Short: THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF TUPPERWARE, 29m.
It's like an evening at the Drive-In That Time Forgot: First, the semi-legendary "lost" Esperanto ghost story; then, a Satanic-cult cheapie anchored by two of the last great Western character actors; finally an undoubtedly charming short about that thrilling new invention, Tupperware! INCUBUS stars a young William Shatner, Allyson Ames and Elois Hardt under Leslie Stevens' direction. SATAN stars Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones [who co-wrote the script] and Charles Bateman.

6:20AM-8AM, IFC: ANNIE HALL, 93m.
You often hear this Woody Allen movie hailed as the most truthful romantic comedy every made; I don't think that's true, it just has a set of lies far different and much more interesting than the usual Hollywood romcom fare. Allen starred and directed a script by himself and Marshall Brickman, co-starring Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts and Carol Kane. [Reairs at at 12:25PM and 5:25PM.]

9AM-10:15AM, TCM: NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK, 71m.
The Great Man's unkindest cut against Hollywood. W.C. Fields, Gloria Jean and Leon Errol star, with support from Margaret Dumont and Franklin Pangborn, et al. and direction by Edward Cline of script by Fields and Prescott Chaplin & John T. Neville.

9AM-10:35AM, IFC: DOUBLE HAPPINESS, 92m.
Writer/director Mina Shum's debut feature is a little clunky in spots, but it's easy to enjoy its Canadian-ness, early '90s indie feel [the correct word would be "vibe" but I refuse to use it] and the performances of Sandra Oh, Alannah Ong, Stephen Chang and even Callum Keith Rennie, who makes the best of a thankless weenie-white-guy part. [Reairs at 2PM.]

10:35AM-12:25PM, IFC: HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, 103m.
Just reading its synopsis assassinates my interest in seeing this film again, but you've been spared, so far. [Reairs at 3:30PM and 5:15AM.]

Noon-2PM, TCM: SERGEANTS 3, 113m.
Frank Sinatra! Dean Martin! Sammy Davis, Jr.! John Sturges! The West! Adventure! A W.R. Burnett script based on a Rudyard Kipling poem! Mild disappointment!

Noon-4PM, ESPN2: WOMENS BILLIARDS
The Pacific Coast Classic quarterfinals in Lincoln City, OR. If you don't enjoy watching ladies play pool, we can't be friends.

2PM-4PM, FMC: BANDOLERO!, 106m.
You would think that Dean Martin would be a bad fit for Westerns, but he's often the best part of the ones he's in -- even RIO BRAVO wouldn't be as great without Dino. BANDOLERO! is no BRAVO but it can sit proudly next to THE PROFESSIONALS, which shares a lot of the same tropes and possibly a few character actors, and the better late '60s light Westerns. The scene where Dean and Jimmy Stewart talk about what Indians there are in Montana should be a classic, but it might rely too much on context to appreciate. Raquel Welch, Will Geer, Andrew Prine and George Kennedy co-star, Andrew V. Mclaglen directs from James Lee Barrett's screenplay based on Stanley Hough's story. [Reairs on May 14th at 2PM.]

4:15PM-6PM, TCM: MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, 97m.
John Ford's gorgeous take on Wyatt Earp's battle with the Clantons. Henry Fonda, Victor Mature and Walter Brennan star.

6PM-7:45PM, TCM: BACK FROM ETERNITY, 97m.
John Farrow's mid-'50s widescreen remake of his pre-war programmer FIVE CAME BACK, this version stars the mighty Robert Ryan with Anita Ekberg and Rod Steiger.


Sunday May 2


2AM-4AM, FMC: THE FLY, 96m.
David Cronenberg's remake of the original drive-in classic. There's still something absolutely wonderful about Jeff Goldblum's mumbly underacting in some of the grosser moments in Brundlefly's life. Geena Davis costars. [Reairs on May 17th at 10PM and on May 27th at 10PM.]

3:05AM-5:25AM, IndiePlex: HENRY V, 138m.
The best of Kenneth Branagh's adaptations of Shakespeare's dramas, and one of the best English-language movies of the 1990s. It does for pasty English wimps what ROCKY did for greasy Italian dumbasses, every time -- but that side effect is certainly not what makes it so great. Paul Scofield, Emma Thompson and Ian Holm co-star. [Reairs at 10:55PM.]

6AM-8AM, TCM: LES GIRLS, 114m.
Cole Porter's final film score and Gene Kelly's final musical film for MGM is both a charming piece of widesreen-Metrocolor cotton candy and a clever variant of RASHOMON's unreliable-flashback plotting. Mitzi Gaynor, Kay Kendall et Taina Elg sont les girls, George Cukor est le auteur.

8AM-10AM, TCM: WITHOUT RESERVATIONS, 101m.
Postwar romantic comedy from Mervyn LeRoy, about a lady novelist meeting-cute a war hero who could have fallen out of her latest book. Claudette Colbert and John Wayne [yes really] star with a generous salting of Hollywood cameos [Jack Benny, Cary Grant, Raymond Burr].

10AM, TCM: GOODBYE MR. CHIPS, 114m.
Only Robert Donat could melt my dead, frozen heart when it comes to the unhappy-teacher subgenre. That he stars with Greer Garson and Paul Henreid, under direction by Sam Wood, is just gravy on my partially thawed dead heart.

3:30PM-5:30PM, FMC: THE DETECTIVE, 114m.
I really can't tell these "Tony Rome" movies apart, but they're good potsimmerers. I think this is the one where he plays Rome with a different name, and the film ends with Sinatra admiring Lee Remick's ass as she walks away. Class. Features supporting acting from a small army of solid character actors, including Jack Klugman, Lloyd Bochner, Ralph Meeker, William Windom, Tony Musante and Robert Duvall, and a bit part from Sugar Ray Robinson. Gordon Douglas directs from Abby Mann's screenplay based on Roderick Thorp's novel. [Reairs on the 25th at 6PM.]

4PM-5:30PM, TCM: THE BLACK SWAN, 85m.
One of my very favorite adventure movies as well as my favorite ribbon of Technicolor -- lots of action, pirates, cute girls, Maureen O'Hara being deeply offended/annoyed/endangered and Tyrone Power being a complete cock. Anthony Quinn, Laird Cregar and George Sanders costar under direction by Henry King from a script by Ben Hecht and Seton I. Miller.

5:30PM-8PM, TCM: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, 137m.
As much as I would now kill to have more movies featuring the team of Bob Balaban and Francois Truffaut, I think I would have been better off remembering nothing of this movie from seeing as a child except the shot of Richard Dreyfuss sculpting a model of the mountain out of mashed potatoes and saying that it means something. It's funny how many scenes in Spielberg's sci-fi movies revolve around the dinner table. Teri Garr costars.

8PM-11:30PM, FMC: FOX LEGACY: PATTON
One of the most interior epics you'll ever see. George C. Scott really is mesmerizing, even when the movie around him is a slogging march through war cliches and Cliffs Notes history. I'm fairly sure that "Fox Legacy" is the packaging that presents Fox's CEO talking about how great the movie is, how great 20th Century was in bankrolling it and how awesome Fox Movie Channel is for airing it so often, so you might want to program your recorders or your schedules accordingly. [Reairs on the 31st at 9PM and on June 1 at 2:30AM.]


Monday May 3


12:30AM-2AM, TCM: CAPTAIN SALVATION, 87m.
TCM's Silent Sunday film this week is a rather unexciting-sounding drama about a "divinity student [who] risks his future to help a prostitute." Lars Hanson, Pauline Starke and Ernest Torrence star under John S. Robertson's direction.

1:30AM-4AM, FMC: LUNA, 142m.
A rare 1979 Bernardo Bertolucci film that Fox claims is "cinematically exciting, yet controversial." I can buy that. Jill Clayburgh and Matthew Barry star, with support from Fred Gwynne.

2AM-3:30AM, ANNA CHRISTIE, 85m.
Garbo talks! This is the German-language, Jacques Feyder-directed version of Eugene O'Neill's whore-sailor romantic drama, costarring Salka Viertel.

5AM-6:15AM, TCM: THE SINGLE STANDARD, 71m.
6:15AM-8:30AM, TCM: BEAU BRUMMEL, 128m.
A fine pair of silent films: STANDARD is a progressive-sounding piece of proto-feminism starring Greta Garbo, Nils Asther and John Mack Brown under John S. Robertson's direction. BEAU is the classic British romance starring John Barrymore and Mary Astor.

9AM-11AM, FMC: NIGHTMARE ALLEY, 110m.
Tyrone Power, getting ground into the dirt and then ground even further! Joan Blondell, being so lovely you'll want to punch yourself in the face after a while! Edmund Goulding, in a once-in-a-lifetime performance as a director! George Jessel, earning a producer credit in his filmography guaranteed to trigger generations of double-takes to come! Circus Noir Overdrive! [Reairs on the 15th at 9AM.]

9:35 AM-11:20AM, IFC: THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION!, 103m.
Peter Weller is New Wave Doc Savage! John Lithgow spilling his acting all over the place! Inexplicable watermelons! Jeff Goldblum, dressed as a cowboy! When is that sequel gonna get made, anyway? [Reairs at 3:50PM.]

10PM-12:30AM, SHO2: SHOBOX: THE NEW GENERATION
It's there if you want it.



And, some airings for beyond this week from those master planners at the Fox Movie Channel:


Friday May 7


4:15AM-6AM, FMC: CLAUDINE, 92m.
John Berry is a fascinating case -- a Mercury Theatre alumnus, blacklisted in the 1950s, etc. -- and while a black middle-class-family movie like CLAUDINE may not be a JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN or a SALT OF THE EARTH, it's a remarkable achievement from a director who strove for something more than genre crowd-pleasing.

6AM-7:30AM, FMC: TOBACCO ROAD, 84m.
I assume this is one of those less-than-stellar movies John Simon was thinking of with he described John Ford's oeuvre as two or three Edsels to every Ford, but I like the idea that he followed up THE GRAPES OF WRATH with a comedy/drama straight out of Dogpatch. Charley Grapewin, Marjorie Rambeau, Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews star.



Sunday May 9


7:30AM-9:30AM, FMC: THE LIEUTENANT WORE SKIRTS, 99m.
Frank Tashlin and Tom Ewell's first collaboration -- they made THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT later the same year -- this is a about the pressure to re-enlist felt by the only male "civilian wife" on an Air Force base. Sheree North and Rita Moreno co-star. [Reairs on the 24th at Noon.]

4:15PM-6:15PM, FMC: THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT, 99m.
Frank Tashlin brings his animated-cartoon chops to live-action film. Lurid full-color in Cinemascope, and performances from Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps and The Platters. Also, Jayne Mansfield's tits. There's an entire universe of a life lived in Tashlin's comment, "There's nothing in the world to me that's funnier than big breasts." Tom Ewell and Edmond O'Brien co-star. [Reairs on the 25th at 2PM.]


Monday May 10


8PM-10PM, FMC: THE SEVEN-UPS, 103m.
What happened to Philip D'Antoni? He produced BULLITT, then THE FRENCH CONNECTION and then produced and directed this film, which is said to have an even more amazing car chase than the previous two, collected an Academy Award or two, produced a few things for TV and then …. nothing. Is there a story there? [Reairs on the 29th at 6PM and on the 30th at 4AM.]


Tuesday May 11


9:30AM-11AM, FMC: HALF ANGEL, 77m.
A little, ridiculous slice of early '50s Technicolor candy -- a man is utterly baffled by an ex-girlfriend who is a prim and proper nurse by day and a cuckolding trollop to him at night [she's a somnambulist, duh?]. Loretta Young stars [as a de facto producer, she had original director Jules Dassin fired -- now that would have made one hell of a movie -- and replaced with amiable hack Richard Sale -- with Joseph Cotten, Cecil Kellaway and Jim Backus. The mighty Robert Riskin wrote the script not too long before his death.


Saturday May 15


7:15AM-9AM, FMC: THE MARK OF ZORRO, 94m.
An enjoyable romantic adventure from the team of director Rouben Mamoulian and stars Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell. [Reairs on the 22nd at 8:30AM and on the 24th at 10AM.]


Wednesday May 19


2PM-4PM, FMC: PRINCE VALIANT, 100m.
This is one weird concept: Hal Foster's classic illustratorly comic strip comes to the very big screen [it's one of if not the first film shot in CinemaScope, 2.55:1] via director Henry Hathaway and the woefully underrated screenwriter Dudley Nichols [STAGECOACH, BRINGING UP BABY, SCARLET STREET, GUNGA DIN, THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S, THE INFORMER, etc.], who hit on the fairly ingenious method of adapting the absurdly complex and long continuities of the strip by using panels from the strip as storyboards for the movie. This should be a milk run for making a solid adventure movie, right? They cast Robert Wagner for the lead, Janet Leigh as his Princess Aleta, James Mason as the heavy, The Black Knight and Sterling Hayden as Valiant's comic relief/mentor Sir Gawain. All well and good, but somehow the ingredients don't quite cook the way that, say, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD come together although it may simply be that Wagner's terrible bob wig throws me every time. VALIANT is visually gorgeous but it is curious how fast the film's editing rhythm is; I wonder if it was done with some technical reason due to the new film ratio, or if they just had too much plot to squeeze into even a roadshow-length film, or what. The individual shots are as amazingly composed as you would expect from a movie that Hal Foster "storyboarded."

10AM-Noon, FMC: THE PROUD ONES, 90 or 94m.
This film often gets compared to RIO BRAVO [although HIGH NOON might be a better fit], but Marshall Robert Ryan has to deal with a revenge-addled Jeffrey Hunter, a socially powerful Robert Middleton and a downright disrespectful populace and there's no calvary coming to bail his ass out in the last reel, so far as I can recall. In BRAVO, Wayne and Howard Hawks act like being able to hold off one gang until help arrives is just on this side of impossible. I always thought it was funny that the plot of Wayne & Hawks' right-wing, Real American response to HIGH NOON hinged on the Duke coercing a drunk and a codger to collectively fight for the good of the community. If John Garfield and Dalton Trumbo had made that movie, you know they would have been executed as Commie traitors on the sidewalk in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Anyway, THE PROUD ONES isn't nearly as heralded as a classic as either of those films, but it has gorgeous Cinemascope cinematography and a great performance from Ryan. [Reairs on the 27th at 7:30AM.]


Friday May 21


9AM-10:31AM, FMC: SWAMP WATER, 88m.
I'll never understand why Jean Renoir loved the American South so much. This is his first film for a U.S. studio -- perhaps he was still struggling to get his bearings following his escape from France, perhaps his English wasn't yet strong enough to articulate what he wanted and how he wanted it as a filmmaker, but this movie plays more like a John Ford drama than a Jean Renoir film. Ford's key screenwriter, Dudley Nichols, wrote this adaptation of Vereen Bell's novel and more than a few of Ford's favorite characters appear in this movie. Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Walter Brennan and Dana Andrews star.


Saturday May 22


6AM-8:05AM, FMC: THE BIG TRAIL, 120m.
John Wayne's first starring role, very much like the old OREGON TRAIL video game [see also: UNTAMED; Fox really had a thing for this story]. Raoul Walsh was no John Ford, but neither was John Ford most of the time. Lots of magnificent scenery in this one, appropriately enough.


Monday May 24


2PM-4PM, FMC: THE SHERIFF OF FRACTURED JAW, 103m.
A late model, uncharacteristic Raoul Walsh Western, starring Kenneth More, Jayne Mansfield and Connie Francis as Mansfield's singing voice for one of those insipid but undeniably memorable theme songs that you normally have to hire Rod McKuen to write.


Tuesday May 25


4PM-6PM, FMC: A PERFECT COUPLE, 110m.
This long-eclipsed '70s Robert Altman movie about a middle-aged Los Angeles man meeting a young torch singer via a dating service can't boast of a cast nor a reputation on par with NASHVILLE's, but it deserves to been mentioned toward the end of the same breath. Paul Dooley and Marta Heflin star, Altman wrote the screenplay, or whatever they used to shoot the movie, with Allan F. Nicholls.


Wednesday May 26


8AM-10AM, FMC: TONIGHT WE SING, 109m.
Another probably-not-good-but-it-has-a-young-Anne Bancroft movie. 1953 biopic of opera impresario Sol Hurok starring David Wayne, Enzio Pinza and Roberta Peters, with direction by Mitchell Leisen from a script by Hurok, Ruth Goode, Harry Kurnitz and George Oppenheimer.


The End
?

On ordering a birthday cake I have no particular desire to eat



My birthday is Sunday, and I want pies -- lemon and chicken-pot ideally, but everyone else likes cake better and this celebration isn't about me. So, I drew the small straw on making the call to the, shall we say problematic, bakery that makes the best cakes in town. The cost of receiving excellence, in this case, is that you apparently can't order a cake long in advance for whatever deranged reason; less than a week is as far out as they schedule.

The girl who answered the phone sounded tired but not quite annoyed that I'm bothering her.

ME: Hi, I'd like to order a birthday cake.

GIRL: Oh, OK. Hang on, lemme get a pen. [sound of the phone bonking onto the table, dead air, the sound of the phone being picked up] OK, what would you like?

ME: Well, yeah -- A half-sheet in red velvet. With [small sigh] butter-cream frosting in flower accents.

[This is not the first time I've ordered cakes for the cake fiends in my family. I only feel slightly less guilty doing this than when I used to buy cartons of cigarettes for the smokers when I'd drive down to Pennsylvania to fill up my car with the much cheaper gasoline there. Everything seems cheaper in PA, but who the hell wants to live there?

As for the cake itself: Their choice of frosting should be considered a hate crime against the cake itself, if you ask me -- if you're going to have cake, red velvet is the best, but I already know from experience that butter-cream frosting tastes only slightly worse as vomit -- but I don't say any of that to the girl. Again, this birthday cake isn't about me.]

GIRL: [repeating as she writes] ... flower ... accents .... Great! Oh! What day do you want it ready?

ME: Sunday.

GIRL: Oh! Er, um, sorry but, um, the bakers aren't doing any baking Saturday or, uh ... tomorrow.

ME: Wow, OK, [unintelligible mumbling; even I don't know what I was trying to say].

GIRL: Oh, but one of our guys is probably going to walk over here to work a while on Sunday, after the Mets game. Is Monday OK?

ME: Well, I guess, yeah. [I leave for Oregon on Monday morning. I should be past Jamestown by the time this bakery opens Monday, but that's totally fine; this cake really doesn't have anything to do with me anyway.]

GIRL: Great! Yeah, sorry 'bout that. Oh, what should the cake say? Did you have --

ME: "Happy Belated Birthday, Milo"

GIRL: Oh. [awkward moment] Um, can you hang on a second? I'm going to go ask them something.

ME: Sure thing. [bakery phone bonks onto the table again, murmur of long conversation in background, eventually the phone gets picked back up]

GIRL: [in an almost cheerful mood] Hi? OK, they said they can make your cake today and we can keep it in the freezer for pickup on Saturday. Is that alright?

ME: Oh? Wow, great! Wait, so -- you're open on Saturday? The bakers --

GIRL: We're open until one on Saturdays.

ME: Gotcha. But the bakers aren't baking then or the day before?

GIRL: Nah, today is their big work day. Like, 7AM 'til almost midnight -- and sometimes later!

ME: Huh. So, they bake from "Can" until "Can't." [Girl laughs politely.] Do they always work a double-shift Thursday so that they can take the weekend off, but the shop still has stuff to sell?

GIRL: Yeah!

ME: Is that thing bakers do?

GIRL: Um, I ... don't know?

ME: Hmm. Well, I hope my cake won't be too much more work for them! [Girl laughs politely.] So, can I pay for it for now? [Pays for the cake.] Thank you again for being so helpful! It's much appreciated.

GIRL: Yeah! Oh! Wait, did you want a different message for the lettering now that it'll be ready for your party?

ME: Uh ... yeah, we should delete the "belated" part. [Final pleasantries, then the hangup at last.]

I wish I had thought to ask the girl to change the message to read "Unhappy Belated Birthday, Milo" -- the linguistic-puzzle double-negative would entertain me and it would mildly baffle and/or annoy everyone else [which would also entertain me], but they would appreciate that there was that much more vile butter cream on the cake they'll be eagerly cramming into their pieholes shortly. Again: Pie is what should go in the piehole, dammit. But I guess it's all for the best, as this birthday cake is not about me.

[Also: I don't know if I'm getting any presents but if I do, I'm hoping to get gas money.]

Pictures of stuff I don't own anymore.

Just purged some old buy-my-crap-on-eBay posts but I still like these photos. Not as much as I like not having to have to look at these things in my home every day, but regardless.



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Weekly DVD Alert Twenty: April 20-26, 2010



I'm buried under work, other work and getting my shit together for a cross-country move in a week, but I thought I'd post what I already have written for this week's television guide. I'll revise the bejeezus out of this later. [Last Edit: Wednesday 7:15PM]

Check your local listings, etc.

"The following opinions are offered by a man determined to unironically watch a movie named GORILLA AT LARGE someday."


Tuesday April 20


[TCM sez Happy Birthday Harold Lloyd!]

1:40AM-4AM, Sun: FLAME & CITRON, 136m.
A recent WWII-resistance movie from Denmark auteur Ole Christian Madsen. A pair of Copenhagen assassins' partnership grows strained as their bodycount rises. What's to feel conflicted about if you're killing Ratzis, yo? Thure Lindhardt and Mads Mikkelsen star.

4:35AM-6:30AM, Indie: NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, 113m.
It's strange how this movie … well, it rarely pops up at all in conversations, but I was going to say that it's strange that it rarely pops up in discussions of artistically successful film adaptations of novels. There's really nothing you could add or subtract from it to improve it, is there? The sets are the right kind of squalid futurism, the script doesn't whitewash the more horrifying ideas in Orwell's book and the casting couldn't be better -- John Hurt was the perfect choice for Winston Smith; Richard Burton made an ideal O'Brien and Suzanna Hamilton's Julia is the right mix of heartless and sensual. Michael Radford, we salute you. [Reairs on the 25th at 3:15AM.]

7AM-9:30AM, RetroPlex: LAURA, 87m.
I'm not much of an Otto Preminger fan, but I want to check out the titular portrait painting to see if it's worth parodying/plagiarizing. Also, this is a classic thriller, blah blah blah, show my the pretty picture. [Reairs on the 25 at 8:10AM and 6:30PM.]

8:30PM-9:30PM, Sun: CITIES ON SPEED "Cairo: Garbage," 51m.
Mikala Krogh launches this new Sundance series with a short film about the massive, unsettlingly fast expansion of Egypt's capital city and its attendant garbage problem. [Reairs at Midnight, and on the 25th at 10:30AM.]

9:30PM-11:15PM, Sun: ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, 99m.
Werner Herzog goes to Antarctica. [Reairs at 1AM, on the 25th at 11:30AM and on the 26th at 10AM and 5:15PM.]


Wednesday April 21


10:20AM-11:20AM, Sun: AGNES MARTIN: WITH MY BACK TO THE WORLD, 56m.
Mary Lance's portrait of the Canadian minimalist/abstract-expressionist painter. [Reairs on the 26th at 2:45PM and on the 27th at 5:45AM.]

10:30AM-12:30PM, FMC: NIGHTMARE ALLEY, 110m.
Tyrone Power, getting ground into the dirt and then ground even further! Joan Blondell, being so lovely you'll want to punch yourself in the face after a while! Edmund Goulding, in a once-in-a-lifetime performance as a director! George Jessel, earning a producer credit in his filmography guaranteed to trigger generations of double-takes to come! Circus Noir Overdrive! [Reairs May 3rd at 9AM, and on May 15th at 9AM.]

10PM-12:30AM, Sun: BLACK BOOK, 146m.
Paul Verhoeven is the man. It's not just that he's the only cerebral filmmaker of his generation to develop and retain a sense of humor, he's somehow the most honest of his peers, even if it's a emotional or metaphorical honesty that often gets him in trouble. This film is his big Holland homecoming, a WWII spy thriller that gives you The Full Verhoeven: slyly funny characters tossed through a twisting plot told largely in amazing images and juxtapositions. Also, tits.

10PM-1AM, TCM: GRAND PRIX, 176m.
I haven't seen this racing drama in quite a while, but John Frankenheimer knows how to piece together an exciting car chase. James Garner and Eva Marie Saint star.


Thursday April 22


3AM-5AM, TCM: JUNIOR BONNER, 100m.
Sam Peckinpah engages the meaning of the death of the Old West in yet another way, this time as a very small family drama built around McQueen as a washed-up rodeo rider. Robert Preston and Ida Lupino co-star.

4AM-6AM, Sun: PAN'S LABYRINTH, 119m.
OK, everyone can stop badgering me about how awesome this movie is and what an asshole I am for not seeing it. I'll still be an asshole after seeing it, by the way; Guillermo Del Toro is a filmmaker, not a miracle worker. Ivana Baquero and Sergei Lopez star.

8:10AM-9:45AM, TCM: WILD STRAWBERRIES, 91m.
Ingmar Bergman! Disillusionment! Sadness! Exotic Sweden, filmed in glorious Black and White! Victor Sjostrom! Ingrid Thulin! Young Max Von Sydow!

8:45AM-11:15PM, Sun: ARMY OF SHADOWS, 145m.
Jean-Pierre Melville's classic 1969 Vichy/occupation thriller. Lino Ventura stars. [Reairs on the 25th at 2:15PM.]

9:30AM-11:30 am, FMC: TONIGHT WE SING, m.
Another probably-not-good-but-it-has-a-young-Anne Bancroft movie. 1953 biopic of opera impresario Sol Hurok starring David Wayne, Enzio Pinza and Roberta Peters, with direction by Mitchell Leisen from a script by Hurok, Ruth Goode, Harry Kurnitz and George Oppenheimer. [Reairs on May 26th at 8AM.]

11:15AM-1PM, Sun: DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, 98m.
Actress Jeanne Moreau, screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere and auteur Luis Bunuel's 1964 take on the original Jean Renoir film adaptation of Octave Mirbeau's novel.

11:30AM-1:30PM, FMC: THE SHERIFF OF FRACTURED JAW, 103m.
A late model, uncharacteristic Raoul Walsh Western, starring Kenneth More, Jayne Mansfield and Connie Francis as Mansfield's singing voice for one of those insipid but undeniably memorable theme songs that you normally have to hire Rod McKuen to write. [Reairs on the 24th at 6AM and on May 24th at 2PM.]

11:45AM-1:15PM, TCM: THE GUN RUNNERS, 82m.
Well, I'm always interested to see a Don Siegel movie I've never seen and keep tabs on the state of poor Everett Sloane's nose the last few years of his life, but an American-made movie about the Cuban revolution headlined by Audie Murphy and Eddie Albert may be a dealbreaker.

1:15PM-3PM, TCM: SMASH-UP, THE STORY OF A WOMAN, 103m.
I hope this is a Noir-ish melodrama; Susan Hayward and her rack star as a pop singer's wife who can't handle his success until her third or forth Hennessy. Lee Bowman and Eddie Albert costar.

8PM-10:30PM, TCM: THE RED SHOES, 135m.
"If you've not sen this classic, now's the time. Gorgeous and powerful color, music and acting." Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring and Moira Shearer star in a film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

10PM-11PM, ESPNC: 30 FOR 30 "The Legend of Jimmy the Greek"
I enjoyed this look at television's greatest/only oddsmaker Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder, although I wonder if the filmmakers made a mistake trying to frame the Greek as almost a Cosell-level transcendent figure ... or if I'm just projecting that onto the film. Regardless, televised sports lost a big piece of its soul the day that they stopped including betting breakdowns on their pre-shows.

10PM-11:45PM, Sun: FIDO, 93m.
Andrew Currie's comedic mishmash of junk like old zombie movies and a-boy-and-his-pet melodramas. Billy Connelly plays the zombie/pet; it's that kind of movie. Carrie-Anne Moss, Dylan Baker and K'Sun Ray co-star. [Reairs at 5:05AM and on the 24th at midnight.]

10:30PM-1:30AM, TCM: ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, 165m.
"If you've not sen this classic, now's the time. Gorgeous and powerful color, music and acting." Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson and Claudia Cardinale star in a film by Sergio Leone.

11PM-12:30AM, IFC: STRANGELAND, 86m.
Et tu, my Linda Cardellini appreciation? Dee Snider wrote, produced and starred, with a cameo from Robert Englund.


Friday April 23


1:30AM-3:15AM, TCM: THE RIVER, 99m.
"If you've not sen this classic, now's the time. Gorgeous and powerful color, music and acting." Nora Swinburne, Esmond Knight and Arthur Shields star in a film by Jean Renoir, his first in color.

5:30AM-6:30AM, TCM: THE CHEAT, 59m.
Sessue Hayakawa lived a life far more heroic and dramatic than any of his movies, and the few movies of his that have survived are pretty heroic and dramatic. An unfair thumbnail would be if Rudolph Valentino had quickly grown disgusted with villainous horny-foreigner roles, and turned into a Fairbanks or Chaplin-style self-employed actor/mogul. This is Hayakawa's second film, made under Cecil B. DeMille's direction. Fannie Ward costars.

8AM-10:05AM, FMC: THE BIG TRAIL, 120m.
John Wayne's first starring role, very much like the old OREGON TRAIL video game [see also: UNTAMED; Fox really had a thing for this story]. Raoul Walsh was no John Ford, but neither was John Ford most of the time. Lots of magnificent scenery in this one, appropriately enough. [Reairs on May 22nd at 6AM.]

8AM-8:30AM, Sun: GREAT GENIUS & PROFOUND STUPIDITY, 27m.
Benita Raphan's thoughtful look at the idea of ideas and the thin line between clever and stupid. Features interviews the likes of Oliver Sacks and Merce Cunningham.

3:30PM-5:30PM, FMC: THE DETECTIVE, 114m.
I really can't tell these "Tony Rome" movies apart, but they're good potsimmerers. I think this is the one where he plays Rome with a different name, and the film ends with Sinatra admiring Lee Remick's ass as she walks away. Class. Features supporting acting from a small army of solid character actors, including Jack Klugman, Lloyd Bochner, Ralph Meeker, William Windom, Tony Musante and Robert Duvall, and a bit part from Sugar Ray Robinson. Gordon Douglas directs from Abby Mann's screenplay based on Roderick Thorp's novel. [Reairs on May 2nd at 3:30PM and on May 25th at 6PM.]

8PM-11PM, TCM: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, 149m.
Dude, this airing was three weeks late for the movie's debut anniversary/International Record Your Pet Reacting to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY Day. Keir Dullea, William Sylvester and Gary Lockwood star in a film by Stanley Kubrick.

8PM-11:30PM, FMC: FOX LEGACY: PATTON
One of the most interior epics you'll ever see. George C. Scott really is mesmerizing, even when the movie around him is a slogging march through war cliches and Cliffs Notes history. I'm fairly sure that "Fox Legacy" is the packaging that presents Fox's CEO talking about how great the movie is, how great 20th Century was in bankrolling it and how awesome Fox Movie Channel is for airing it so often, so you might want to program your recorders or your schedules accordingly. [Reairs at 11:30PM, on May 2nd at 8PM, on May 31st at 9PM and on June 1 at 2:30AM.]

10PM-Midnight, H: BLACK BLIZZARD
Not the most cheerful of subjects, but one I've always wanted to know more about: The "black blizzards" were the catastrophic Dust Bowl storms of the 1930s. [Reairs at 2:01AM.]

11PM-1:30AM, TCM: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, 137m.
As much as I would now kill to have more movies featuring the team of Bob Balaban and Francois Truffaut, I think I would have been better off remembering nothing of this movie from seeing as a child except the shot of Richard Dreyfuss sculpting a model of the mountain out of mashed potatoes and saying that it means something. It's funny how many scenes in Spielberg's sci-fi movies revolve around the dinner table. Teri Garr costars.


Saturday April 24


Midnight-1:30AM, IFC: THE RAZOR: THE SNARE
I could have sworn I've written about this trilogy before on the blog, but I can't find anything. The "Hanzo The Razor" series is … something. Based on a Kazuo Koike manga, a samurai/cop discovers a plot against his master. As it just so happens, he has a gigantic penis, which he toughens by humping hot gravel and other techniques martial artists use on their fists. As it also just so happens, most of the conspirators/witnesses he needs to interview/interrogate are women who are generally unwilling to cooperate. You can probably do the math on how this story plays out. IFC confuses matters even more by airing the third Hanzo film first, with the first film airing next Friday.

5:15AM-5:30AM, TCM Short: WILD AT THE WHEEL, 10m.
5:30AM-5:45AM, TCM Short: ONE GOT FAT - BICYCLE SAFETY, 15m.
One specific thing I will miss about basic cable is this 5AM block of oddball training films. If you've not seen ONE GOT FAT, you must. [It's the one with kids riding bikes in monkey masks, if it sounds familiar.] The most crazymaking social-guidance film this side of THE CHILD MOLESTER.

6AM-8AM, FMC: THE SHERIFF OF FRACTURED JAW, 103m.
A late model, uncharacteristic Raoul Walsh Western, starring Kenneth More, Jayne Mansfield and Connie Francis as Mansfield's singing voice for one of those insipid but undeniably memorable theme songs that you normally have to hire Rod McKuen to write. [Reairs on May 24th at 2PM.]

4PM-6PM, TCM: FAHRENHEIT 451, 112m.
Francois Truffaut's first color film, and I think his only in English? I was listening to the raw tapes of his interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, who made one point I find quite pertinent here: Hitch pointed out that, while a number of European directors had great success in America -- Lubitsch, Billy Wilder, Lang, [himself, duh] -- none of the French directors quite made the transition. Not that I think Truffaut would have done better with this material in French; he clearly was not really that much of a book guy. Oskar Werner, Julie Christie and Cyril Cusack star.

6PM, TCM: THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, 102m.
There's really no reason to ever retell the Robin Hood story; this one gets everything right. Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains and Basil Rathbone star in glorious full Technicolor under direction from William Keighley and Michael Curtiz and to a tremendous score from Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

7:30PM-9PM, HBO: 24/7 MAYWEATHER/MOSLEY Episodes 1-3
11:15PM-1:15AM, HBO: BOXING AFTER DARK
It's funny how, when the smaller promoters like Gary Shaw and Goossen-Tutor get a chance to put on a show for HBO, the fights are almost always competitive and intriguing. Tonight, we watch the charismatic, obese heavyweight Chris Arreola take on the fresh-from-dominating-the-entire-Cruiserweight-division Tomasz Adamek in one of the few headliner fights this month that really could go either way. On the undercard, we will speculate how Joel Julio continues to get TV fights -- compromising photos? HBO's President is Julio's godfather? Julio got Jesus' cat out of a tree in a past life? -- while Alfredo "El Perro" Angulo womps him to collect the interim WBO light-middleweight title. Whoopdee doodoo. [Reairs at 8:30AM and on the 27th at 12:30AM.]

8PM-Midnight, H: HOW THE STATES GOT THEIR SHAPES
I think Yahoo's listings for the History Channel is having a stroke right now -- this was not a four-hour-long program when I saw it, but perhaps there's a second doc in this series that airs after the original? The one I saw was fun and informative. [Reairs at 12:01AM.]

8PM-10PM, TCM: THE GRADUATE, 106m.
I only watch this movie for Anne Bancroft's scenes -- not just for her hotness, but how three-dimensional she makes Mrs. Robinson out of nothing. Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross are also in the movie, I hear.

9PM-11:30PM, SHO: THE SUPER SIX: "Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler"
Tape-delayed from the MCH Messecenter in Herning, Denmark, this super-middleweight title bout is the second fight of Stage Two of the tourney. I will be deeply disappointed if Kessler does not demolish Crotch in what should be as much fun to watch as a shopping-cart demolition derby. Both men move in straight, predictable lines, and while Kesseler doesn't have much pop in his punches, Froch has even less in the way of defense on top of a suspect chin. [Shopping-cart demolition derbies are fun to watch, by the way. Not so much to hear, but the visuals are entertaining.] I'll be watching this fight "live" and going over to HBO to watch their card later -- again, deeply disappointed by how HBO counter-programs Showtime every time. For a fanbase as small and dwindling as boxing's, counter-programming is a World Champion Dick Move. [Reairs on SHO2 at 11:35PM and on the 26th at 10PM.]

10PM-11:30PM, TCM: THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, 88m.
I don't rank this as the greatest in Orson Welles' collection of butchered masterpieces -- I think he made several bad choices that would have weakened the film's effectiveness as art even before RKO panicked and had that hack Robert Wise chop up and reshoot it -- but it's still a truly great movie that rewards multiple viewings. Tim Holt, Joseph Cotten, Delores Costello and Agnes Moorehead star.


Sunday April 25


2:15AM-3:35AM, Sun: BROKEN NOSES, 78m.
One of photographer Bruce Weber's lesser-known documentaries/portraits, this one trails former Golden Gloves champion Andy Minsker as he mentors Portland, OR teens at a boxing club. Weber photographs Minsker's face with almost as much love as Vincente Minnelli filmed Judy Garland in their movies.

3:30AM-5:30AM, TCM: REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE, 111m.
James Dean double feature. It's a shame that CAUSE has been eclipsed as much by the weak imitations that followed it as by the tragic early ends that befell its stars James Dean, Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo. Despite some of the stylization and dated cultural mores in his youth movies, Nicholas Ray consistently found and tapped in those crucial, primal emotional moments of late adolescence.

6AM-7:45AM, FMC: THE MARK OF ZORRO, 94m.
An enjoyable romantic adventure from the team of director Rouben Mamoulian and stars Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell. [Reairs on May 15th at 7:15AM, on May 22 at 8:30AM and on May 24 at 10AM.]

6AM-8AM, TCM: ON BORROWED TIME, 99m.
If the TCM logline is accurate -- "An old man and his grandson trap Death in a tree." -- this movie is fucking awesome. Lionel Barrymore, Cedric Hardwicke and Beulah Bondi star.

7:55AM-10AM, Sun: NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, 118m.
It's startling and enchanting how late-period Chaplinesque this this 1957 Fellini film is; the film even looks like a sound-era Chaplin in its grain. Giulietta Masina stars, with Amadeo Nazzari.

8AM-9:15AM, TCM: IT'S A GIFT, 68m.
I think this is the henpecked-husband W.C. Fields movie with the superb bit where he struggles to get some sleep on his porch. I used to think it was a stone pain in the ass to keep the Marx Brothers' pre-MGM movies straight in my head until I started digging into Fields' filmography. Kathleen Howard, Baby LeRoy and Jean Rouverol costar, with direction by Norman Z. McLeod.

11:50AM-1:30PM, RetroPlex: THE 39 STEPS, 87m.
My favorite of Alfred Hitchcock's early British thrillers and the definitive take on the dramatic workhorse -- which is funny considering how many liberties Hitch took with the text, but that's the power of film for you. Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll star.

8:05PM-10PM, IFC: THE CRYING GAME, 112 m.
Sometimes, I wonder if Orson Welles' ghost is angry that CITIZEN KANE is no longer the most spoiler-ed movie ever made. It's a shame that what Stephen Rea sees in the shower is what people take away from Neil Jordan's thoughtful political thriller -- like KANE, this movie grows more powerful and haunting without its "ah ha! …. wait, what?" ending. I'd also like to think that, if I hadn't already known the ending before I saw the film, I would have noticed how large Dil's hands are for a woman. Forest Whitaker, Jaye Davidson and Miranda Richardson co-star. [Reairs at 12:45AM.]

8PM-10PM, TCM: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, 103m.
10PM-Midnight, TCM: SUNSET BOULEVARD, 110m.
Scheduling this lazy and obvious = TCM's guest programmer night.


Monday April 26


Midnight-2AM, TCM: SOULS FOR SALE, 90m.
TCM's Silent Sunday film is an early movie-about-the-movies: Young starlet stops at nothing to be a real star, or does she. Eleanor Boardman, Mae Busch and Barbara La Marr star.

1:15AM-3:45AM, Sun: THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, 150m.
Dante Remus Lazarescu is an old man with a terrible headache; from here, the horror of modern healthcare begins. Clever choice of names from filmmaker Cristi Puiu; if Dante were alive today, he would set his stories in a hospital. Ion Fiscuteanu stars.

2AM-4AM, TCM: THE BLUE ANGEL, 107m.
I've never understood the praise for this movie; it's not close to being the best film Josef von Sternberg, Emil Jannings nor Marlene Dietrich made.

4AM-6AM, TCM: KNIGHT WITHOUT ARMOUR, 107m.
Pre-war British spy thriller starring Marlene Dietrich and Robert Donat? SOLD.

6AM-7:30AM, TCM: THE BICYCLE THIEF, 89m.
Vittorio De Sica's classic; I thought we had all agreed to call it the more accurate THE BICYCLE THIEVES? Oops, spoilers. Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola and Lianella Carell star.

7:05AM-8:30AM, Sun: FLIPPING OUT, 83m.
In the coming years, I expect we'll see a lot more documentaries about this general topic -- the psychological hammering the average soldier endures serving his country during this permanent wartime. In FLIPPING's case, it's Yoav Shamir's look at how so many Israeli soldiers flip out once their compulsory service ends. [Reairs at 1:15PM.]

10AM-Noon, TCM: KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, 106m.
Here's hoping this is the original cut, not the one that tacked on an ending that really should have had "HOLY SHIT YOU AMERICANS REALLY DO NEED EVERYTHING SPELLED OUT FOR YOU" flashing across the screen. Dennis Price plays a young man of D'Ascoyne who's not going to let his family stand between him and the D'Ascoyne fortune; Alec Guinness plays the family. Joan Greenwood costars, Robert Hamer writes and directs.

10AM-11:45AM, Sun: ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, 99m.
Werner Herzog goes to Antarctica. [Reairs at 5:15PM.]

4PM-6PM, TCM: THE SNAKE PIT, 108m.
Olivia de Havilland really excelled at playing damaged but courageous women after her informal partnership with Errol Flynn ended. I'm not much of an Anatole Litvak fan, but this mental-institution story is remarkably solid for 1948, and one of my favorites. Mark Stevens and Leo Genn costar.

8PM-9:30PM, Sun: MURDERBALL, 86m.
Dana Adam Shapiro and Henry-Alex Rubin's documentary about what is apparently "the ultra-macho world of quadriplegic wheelchair rugby, a rough and tumble competition that's part MAD MAX, part roller derby." [Reairs at 6:45AM.]

9:30PM-10PM, Sun: THE COWBOY AND THE FRENCHMAN, 26m.
A short film David Lynch made shortly after finishing BLUE VELVET, with the title roles going to Harry Dean Stanton and Frederick Golchan, respectively. [Reairs at 10AM.]

10PM-11:35PM, Sun: ANGEL-A, 91m.
Luc Besson returns to the director's chair for what I'm guessing is a hyperkinetic valentine to Paris. Jamel Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen star. [Reairs at 2:35AM.]

10PM-12:15AM, TCM: THE TALK OF THE TOWN, 117m.
12:15AM-2:15AM, TCM: WOMAN OF THE YEAR, 114m.
2:15AM-4AM, TCM: SWING TIME,104m.
4AM-6AM, TCM: GEORGE STEVENS: A FILMMAKER'S JOURNEY, 112m.
TCM celebrates George Stevens with a great block of his best pre-war comedies and a long cinematic portrait of the man. I wish I could love WOMAN unequivocally -- it opens with people listening to my beloved radio show INFORMATION PLEASE, for the love of Christ's cab fare -- but the movie stacks its world's deck a little too clumsily to make Spencer Tracy the good guy. Also, the last reel, where Katharine Hepburn's character fails to make breakfast to win Tracy back, couldn't come off as tacked-on and patronizing unless Hepburn wore blackface for it. Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Ronald Colman star in TOWN; Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers star in TIME.

10PM-11PM, ESPNC: 30 FOR 30: "Muhammad and Larry"
A remarkable, heartbreaking documentary showing the lead-up to the 1980 heavyweight championship bout between a shot Muhammad Ali and a prime Larry Holmes. Albert Maysles and his brother were embedded with Ali in his training camp to make a movie about his planned triumphant, unprecedented return to boxing glory; what they recorded and initially abandoned was the shattering of the Ali myth that had been created after his world-shocking upset defeat of George Foreman in Zaire.


And there's another week.

DVD Alertlette [literally sick and tired] for Tuesday April 19

Um, yeah, hi. I'm in no shape to write about movies right now, but I wanted to send a little heads-up that tomorrow is the late, great Harold Lloyd's [if I'm doing the math right] 117th birthday, and TCM is celebrating by showing many of his best comedies all day. Lloyd and his work were long eclipsed by his peers Chaplin and Keaton, but his All-American Boy/Everyman is easy to root for and his work also easy to laugh at.

I'm confident that there are other things airing on American cable television tomorrow, but nothing as good as these movies. If you've not had a chance to give Harold Lloyd a chance, here's your chance. [Schedule copied & pasted from TCM.com, sorry]:

6:00 AM Kid Brother, The (1927)
In this silent film, the weakling in a family of he-men tries to prove his mettle. Cast: Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Walter James. Dir: Ted Wilde, J.A. Howe. BW-82 mins, TV-G
7:30 AM Speedy (1928)
In this silent film, a young man helps his girlfriend save the family trolley business. Cast: Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Babe Ruth. Dir: Ted Wilde. BW-86 mins, TV-G
9:00 AM Welcome Danger (1929)
A gentle botany student has to toughen up to replace his father as chief of police. Cast: Harold Lloyd, Barbara Kent, Noah Young Dir: Clyde Bruckman, Malcolm St. Clair. BW-115 mins, TV-G
11:00 AM Feet First (1930)
A shoe salesman's involvement with a band of crooks leaves him dangling from the side of a tall building. Cast: Harold Lloyd, Robert McWade, Barbara Kent. Dir: Clyde Bruckman. BW-91 mins, TV-G
12:45 PM Movie Crazy (1932)
A stagestruck young actor accidentally receives somebody else's invitation to test in Hollywood. Cast: Harold Lloyd, Constance Cummings, Kenneth Thomson. Dir: Clyde Bruckman. BW-96 mins, TV-G
2:30 PM Cat's Paw, The (1934)
A missionary's son gets mixed up in a Chinese clan war. Cast: Harold Lloyd, George Barbier, Una Merkel. Dir: Sam Taylor. BW-102 mins, TV-G
4:15 PM Milky Way, The (1936)
A mild-mannered milkman stumbles onto a career in the boxing ring. Cast: Harold Lloyd, Adolphe Menjou, Verree Teasdale. Dir: Leo McCarey. BW-88 mins, TV-G


Remarkable to see a clutch of movies in which the one helmed by Leo McCarey is NOT the far & away best. I think it's THE KID BROTHER that has an amazing fight scene staged in the hold of a ship -- one I intend to shamelessly plagiarize pay homage to someday -- that marks the only time I've ever gasped at anything in a movie.

Props to Turner for not going with the easy Lloyd picks, like the iconic SAFETY LAST [although they may sneak it on between features, I dunno] or the talkie but uncharacteristic SIN OF HAROLD DIDDLEBACK.

If 3-D television is really a thing at this time next year, maybe they could produce a documentary about Lloyd's passion for stereoscopic photography. It's sublime to think that Lloyd photographed nudie pictures [young Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe, et al. ... I think] as well as bold color landscapes in 3D.

9:58PM UPDATE: Once again, I have no idea what day it is right now; tomorrow is Monday, not Tuesday. Harold Lloyd's birthday marathon is Tuesday the 20th. Not tomorrow. The 19th. I already wrote up Monday last week. But I may still be all fucked-in-the-head at this time tomorrow, so here it is. For Tuesday. Early.

Friday Night Fights II: "Shit, It's Saturday, not Friday" Edition

Oh yeah, as for the Kelly Pavlik/Sergio Martinez and Lucian Bute/Edison Miranda fights:

I have Martinez taking the upset victory over the ring-rusted and still unbalanced-from-the-Hopkins-schooling champion, most likely a split decision [no matter if Maravilla beats the Ghost from pillar to post for the entire fight, there will inevitably be one judge at ringside who will see Pavlik winning nearly every round] on the cards.

Bute's UD win is his to lose; barring him getting defensively sloppy and/or wanting to go toe-to-toe with Miranda and getting caught with something big from the challenger. I would love to see Miranda win -- I'm a sucker for an underdog, and it would give both fighters something to do while the cream of their super-middleweight division is busy fighting each other over on Showtime.

[All that said, um .... I'm not watching the show tonight, I don't think. Recording Hitchcock's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and then Nick Ray's THEY LIVED BY NIGHT, and having an early night because I have work in the morning. Having a day job is fucking my shit up, wah wah waaaaaaah.]

12:06AM UPDATE: I've underestimated Bute, who pounded Miranda in three rounds. Sorry, Lucian. Once again, I can't believe I didn't notice the size difference between these two. Holy crap.

Martinez looked fantastic as always, and didn't get boned on the scorecards for a change. Yay! Pavlik looked like a comparative Valuev in the ring and fought like it for the rounds I've seen. The Ghost needs to move up to super-middleweight, at least, if he can't make 160 pounds without hurting himself anymore. I'd happily watch a Bute-Pavlik fight, even though it's been two years, five fights, three bums and two losses since Pavlik beat a championship-level boxer.

Friday Night Fights: The Raw Deposition Footage Edition

I know I should be thinking about tonight's Kelly Pavlik/Sergio Martinez middleweight and Lucian Bute/Edison Miranda super-middleweight fights tonight, but this is remarkable: Shane Mosley is suing Victor Conte of the infamous Balco company for defamation over Conte's claims that Mosley knowingly used EPO [the infamous "cream and the clear"] prior to his fight with Oscar De La Hoya -- who, curiously enough, never seemed too concerned that Mosley was cheating his ass up prior to their fight.

I guess a hearing/meeting about the case earlier this week went so badly that an enraged Conte posted an edited version of a Mosley deposition to YouTube:



In response, Mosley's lawyer Judd Burstein [quite the hothead himself] has released the full deposition on YouTube. Although it underlines how misleading the editing in the Conte video could be, I'm afraid the depo doesn't really make Shane look much better. Here's Part I:



And Part II, because I'm too tired to link them together.



Victor Conte looks a lot like James Lipton, doesn't he?



"So, tell me -- and our students here tonight -- yes, tell me, Shane: The definition of genius, really, should be that that person can do what the rest of us have to learn how to do. That first time you injected yourself with EPO, was it genius?"

My favorite quote from the news coverage is this Burstein bellowage about the prospect of him destroying Conte in open court: "I can hardly think of an activity that would be more fun to do, and easy. He'd be slinking off the witness stand trying to see if he can wear Groucho Marx glasses to disguise his identity."

Now I'd pay to see James Lipton host an INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO wearing Groucho Marx glasses. Maybe if I can bamboozle Make-A-Wish into thinking I'm a 6-year-old orphaned girl with lung cancer whose only desire, now that her dreams of being an actress when she grows up are dead, is to see Lipton seriously interview David Hyde Pierce in Groucho glasses. You know that Pierce could sell the entire premise 110% from his walk-on to the questions from the students. The Bravo Channel would give the episode a theatrical release just so that it could win all of the Oscars as well as the Emmys. THE WORLD IS YOURS CANCER ORPHAN GIRL.

Podcasting with your chin to the balcony.




One of my favorite finds of late has been DOWNSTAGE CENTER, an interview show focused on American theatre as part of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism's "American Theatre Wing."

I undoubtedly found the site looking for information about either critic John Simon [still alive and kicking] or actor/director/Orson Welles biographer Simon Callow [also alive and kicking, and sounding so spry I needn't have any more anxiety dreams that he'll die -- and it will somehow be my fault -- before writing the final, vital volume of his Welles triptych] but the show has interviewed hundreds of playwrights, actors, directors, producers, choreographers, critics, etc. over the years. Just a handful I found in a quick skim:

Edward Albee

Matthew Broderick

Tom Stoppard

Frank Langella

Stephen Sondheim

And the Grand Dame of too many of my nightmares, Carol Channing

Listening to a few episodes in a row while on a long walk, a sameness to the questions and answers for specific types of contributors [actors, authors, whatevers] sets in relatively quickly, but it's quite interesting and valuable to hear the voices and stories of people who contribute in key ways to a theatrical production but don't get interviewed much. I note that they've yet to interview any veteran techies; those people have the best stories, even if they would earn CUNY a slander suit or three.

Enjoy.

Just filed & paid my taxes; need otter videos STAT

So soothing and entertaining to watch after fulfilling my civic duty this almost-April 15.



I don't see how to embed a Flickr video, but I really like this otter video and its infectious laughing from Vanessa Davis.

Otters!

Blog posts calculated to keep me in .... Procrastinatus



The first of ten pages, an archive of 902 episodes of one of the best radio series from the medium's Golden Age. SUSPENSE was a different kind of show from its very beginning: The spot-on dramatic theme music was composed by the mighty Bernard Herrmann at a time when even the most artistic radio shows used public-domain classical pieces as themes, ie. Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 in B-Flat Minor & THE MERCURY THEATER ON THE AIR. Alfred Hitchcock made a rare outing as a radio director for the show's audition [an adaptation of his "first" feature film, THE LODGER] airing as a summer episode the CBS series FORECAST. For the SUSPENSE program itself, the directing/producing helm was passed around a bit before settling with William Spier -- already something of a legend for creating and producing THE MARCH OF TIME a few years prior -- who quickly became known as "the Hitchcock of the Air."

Its anthology format kept eight staff writers and assorted stringers busy -- among them, Ray Bradbury, Ben Hecht and Lucille Fletcher, whose classic stories "Sorry, Wrong Number," "The Hitch-Hiker" and "The House In Cypress Canyon" were workhorses of the show [see the previous link for early versions of these stories] -- and often offered revelatory turns from stars cast against type; Jack Benny, Red Skelton and Bob Hope played it straight for the program in the mid- to late-1940s, with sometimes startling results. In "Backseat Driver," Fibber McGee & Molly [Jim & Marian Jordan] faced a violent death in a potboiler about a married couple stranded in a broken-down car within a arm's reach of an escaped murderer. Cary Grant could be counted on to go apeshit whenever he was on.

The producer/directors for the bulk of the series' run, Spier and later Norman MacDonnell, were extremely actor-friendly and squeezed every drop of drama they could out of their material. There were, of course, a lot of clunkers if you view the series across its 20-year lifespan -- it got nursing-home sad at the end -- but SUSPENSE provided tons of the kind of quality programming that still won awards [the 1982 Best Spoken-Word Album Grammy for an LP presentation of the 1944 2-part episode "Donovan's Brain"] decades after the show finally left the air.

[While double-checking name spellings and dates, I happened across what looks to be a first-rate resource/listener's guide to SUSPENSE and its puny kid brother, ESCAPE. Enjoy.]

Weekly DVD Alert Nineteen: April 13-19, 2010


Picture is unrelated but let's add Linus to the list of "wimpy-looking guys we shouldn't mess with" just to be safe. [See also: Jimmy Stewart.]

Check your local listings, etc.

"WARNING: The following opinions are offered by a man determined to unironically watch a movie named GORILLA AT LARGE someday."


Tuesday April 13


1:30AM-2AM, Sun: THE COWBOY AND THE FRENCHMAN, 26m.
A short film David Lynch made shortly after finishing BLUE VELVET, with the title roles going to Harry Dean Stanton and Frederick Golchan, respectively. [Reairs on the 26th at 9:30PM and on the 27th at 10AM.]

4:45AM-5:55AM, IFC: REEFER MADNESS, 67m.
The 1936 original propaganda film; because we all have blank DVDs with a little more than an hour of free time left on them. Tell Your Children! The part where Kenneth Craig is sucking on a joint and making the pianist play faster and faster kills me every time. [Reairs on the 30th at 11:35AM. Alas, no 4/20; smooth move, IFC.]

6AM-7:45AM, TCM: ON THE TOWN, 98m.
7:45AM-9:30AM, TCM: ROYAL WEDDING, 93m.
9:30AM-11AM, TCM: FEARLESS FAGAN, 79m.
11AM-12:30PM, TCM: LOVE IS BETTER THAN EVER, 81m.
12:30PM-2:30PM, TCM: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, 103m.
2:30PM-4PM, TCM: GIVE A GIRL A BREAK, 82m.
4PM-6:30PM, TCM: DEEP IN MY HEART, 132m.
TCM clearly is monitoring my thoughts again: Today, they present the first seven films Stanley Donen directed in more-or-less chronological order. I've often suspected that SINGIN' IN THE RAIN gets so much praise and attention not so much because it's Donen's and/or Gene Kelly's best film but because everyone in a position to publicly heap praise and attention on films just loves a movie about movies. I suppose I'll have an answer by this evening! Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Vera-Ellen; Fred Astaire, Jane Powell, Peter Lawford; Carleton Carpenter, Janet Leigh, Keenan Wynn; Elizabeth Taylor, Larry Parks, Tom Tully; Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor; Marge & Gower Champion, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Fosse; and Jose Ferrer, Merle Oberon, Helen Traubel star, respectively.

12:30PM-2PM, SHONext: A/K/A TOMMY CHONG
Very funny, somewhat unnerving documentary about how the Bush Administration fought terrorists by arresting and prosecuting …. Tommy Chong and some of his family, who were making and selling designer bongs. [Reairs on the 16th at 10:05AM, the 20th at 3:35AM, and on the 23rd at 9:55AM. The film airs on 4/20 (wink wink) on SHO at 1:30PM.]

12:30PM-2:30PM, FMC: THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT, 99m.
Frank Tashlin brings his animated-cartoon chops to live-action film. Lurid full-color in Cinemascope, and performances from Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps and The Platters. Also, Jayne Mansfield's tits. There's an entire universe of a life lived in Tashlin's comment, "There's nothing in the world to me that's funnier than big breasts." Tom Ewell and Edmond O'Brien co-star. [Reairs on May 9th at 4:15PM and on May 25th at 2PM.]

4PM-6PM, FMC: A PERFECT COUPLE, 110m.
This long-eclipsed '70s Robert Altman movie about a middle-aged Los Angeles man meeting a young torch singer via a dating service can't boast of a cast nor a reputation on par with NASHVILLE's, but it deserves to been mentioned toward the end of the same breath. Paul Dooley and Marta Heflin star, Altman wrote the screenplay, or whatever they used to shoot the movie, with Allan F. Nicholls. [Reairs on May 25th at 4PM.]

6:30PM-8PM, TCM: HIS BROTHER'S WIFE, 88m.
I'm in the middle of too many unfinished, ongoing retrospective jags -- seeing every John Huston movie I can, seeking out the programmers a young Anne Bancroft was wasted in at Fox in the early '50s, Stanley Donen, yellowface movies, Vincente Minnelli's non-musicals, etc. -- to add another but I'd love to see more of W.S. Van Dyke's movies to decide if he was a great filmmaker often saddled with bad material or an OK filmmaker who occasionally hit the jackpot with Orson Welles' recipe for a great film by a mediocre director -- great script, well-chosen cast and a good editor and the film will make itself. I'm also fascinated by how much young Barbara Stanwyck's face changed over just a few years. Robert Taylor and Joseph Calleia costar.

8:30PM-10:30PM, Sun: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO, 109m.
A new French documentary about the American biotech monster. The thing about them creating Agent Orange and then lying about it for as long as they could? And lately they want to bioengineer our food supplies? Yeah, um, no thanks. [Reairs at 2:05AM and on the 18th at 11AM.]

10PM-11:30PM, SHO2: THE SUPER SIX BOXING CLASSIC: "Mikkel Kessler vs. Andre Ward"
A rebroadcast of the third and final fight in the first round of the super-middleweight boxing tournament.

10:30PM-Midnight, Sun: THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, 150m.
Dante Remus Lazarescu is an old man with a terrible headache; from here, the horror of modern healthcare begins. Clever choice of names from filmmaker Cristi Puiu; if Dante were alive today, he would set his stories in a hospital. Ion Fiscuteanu stars. [Reairs at 4:25AM and on the 26th at 1:15AM.]


Wednesday April 14


1:40AM-4AM, IndiePlex: INVINCIBLE, 133m.
Werner Herzog drama about a Jewish strongman's fame and performing career [and life] being threatened as the Nazis take power in Berlin. Sounds like good watching to me.

2:30AM-4:05AM, FMC: CLAUDINE, 92m.
John Berry is a fascinating case -- a Mercury Theatre alumnus, blacklisted in the 1950s, etc. -- and while a black middle-class-family movie like CLAUDINE may not be a JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN or a SALT OF THE EARTH, it's a remarkable achievement from a director who strove for something more than genre crowd-pleasing. [Reairs on May 7th at 4:15AM.]

3:55AM-4:30AM, Sun: GREAT GENIUS & PROFOUND STUPIDITY, 27m.
Benita Raphan's thoughtful look at the idea of ideas and the thin line between clever and stupid. Features interviews the likes of Oliver Sacks and Merce Cunningham. [Reairs on the 18th at 5:45AM, on the 19th at 9:30AM, on the 21st at 5:40AM and on the 23rd at 8AM.]

5:30AM-7:30AM, TCM: UNDERCURRENT, 116m.
Postwar drama about a woman who can't tell if it's her husband or his brother who's a psychopath. Eh, I would pass except that it's Vincente Minnelli directing Katharine Hepburn, Robert Taylor and Robert Mitchum. Gee, I wonder if Mitch plays the mysterious brother.

6AM-7:31AM, FMC: SWAMP WATER, 88m.
I'll never understand why Jean Renoir loved the American South so much. This is his first film for a U.S. studio -- perhaps he was still struggling to get his bearings following his escape from France, perhaps his English wasn't yet strong enough to articulate what he wanted and how he wanted it as a filmmaker, but this movie plays more like a John Ford drama than a Jean Renoir film. Ford's key screenwriter, Dudley Nichols, wrote this adaptation of Vereen Bell's novel and more than a few of Ford's favorite characters appear in this movie. Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Walter Brennan and Dana Andrews star. [Reairs on May 21st at 9AM.]

7AM-8:35AM, Sun: FERMAT'S ROOM, 92m.
A math-centric thriller from Spanish writer-directors Luis Piedrahita and Rodrigo Sopena: Four young math nerds are trapped in a closing room and must quickly solve the puzzles that they're presented with if they don't want to be crushed. Luis Homar, Alejo Sauras, Elena Ballesteros, Santi Millan and Federico Luppi star. [Reairs at 11:50AM and 4:50PM, and on the 20th at 11:45AM.]

7:31AM-9AM, FMC: TOBACCO ROAD, 84m.
I assume this is one of those less-than-stellar movies John Simon was thinking of with he described John Ford's oeuvre as two or three Edsels to every Ford, but I like the idea that he followed up THE GRAPES OF WRATH with a comedy/drama straight out of Dogpatch. Charley Grapewin, Marjorie Rambeau, Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews star. [Reairs on May 7th at 6AM.]

8:35AM-10:05AM, Sun: ANGEL-A, 91m.
Luc Besson returns to the director's chair for what I'm guessing is a hyperkinetic valentine to Paris. Jamel Debbouze and Rie Rasmussen star. [Reairs at 1:25PM, on the 18th at 2PM, on the 26th at 10PM and on the 27th at 2:35AM.]

9AM-10:30AM, FMC: THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET, 88m.
Torn from still-wet headlines and widely cited as the first modern-style docudrama, this 20th Century Fox potboiler is about Nazi secret agents tearassing around NYC trying to steal our atomic-bomb secrets. Leo G. Carroll, William Blythe, Signe Hasso, Gene Lockhart star [with a very young E.G. Marshall making his screen debut] under the direction of Henry Hathaway. [Reairs on the 29th at 9AM, on May 10 at 9:30AM and on May 28 at 6AM.]

9AM-11AM, IFC: THE FIELD, 113m.
I'm pretty sure a movie can't get more Irish than this unless someone in Craft Services dies from a potato famine. Richard Harris faces off against Tom Berenger over ownership of a gawd-forsaken patch of rocky farmland. John Hurt provides support as the village idiot. [Reairs at 4PM, and on the 27th at 6:05AM and 11:30AM.]

10:05AM-11:45AM, Sun: DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, 98m.
Actress Jeanne Moreau, screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere and auteur Luis Bunuel's 1964 take on the original Jean Renoir film adaptation of Octave Mirbeau's novel. [Reairs at 3:05PM, and on the 22nd at 11:15AM.]

12:15PM-1:45PM, TCM: DEVIL'S DOORWAY, 84m.
One of the first of Anthony Mann's post-Noir adult Westerns; I'm still weary of the idea of Robert Taylor playing a Shoshone Indian, but everything I've read about this movie hails it as a bold little piece of Civil Rights trailblazing. Guy Trosper wrote the script and Louis Calhern and Paula Raymond costar.

12:30PM-2PM, FMC: HALF ANGEL, 77m.
A little, ridiculous slice of early '50s Technicolor candy -- a man is utterly baffled by an ex-girlfriend who is a prim and proper nurse by day and a cuckolding trollop to him at night [she's a somnambulist, duh?]. Loretta Young stars [as a de facto producer, she had original director Jules Dassin fired -- now that would have made one hell of a movie -- and replaced with amiable hack Richard Sale -- with Joseph Cotten, Cecil Kellaway and Jim Backus. The mighty Robert Riskin wrote the script not too long before his death. [Reairs on May 11 at 9:30AM.]

2PM-4PM, FMC: THE LIEUTENANT WORE SKIRTS, 99m.
Frank Tashlin and Tom Ewell's first collaboration -- they made THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT later the same year -- this is a about the pressure to re-enlist felt by the only male "civilian wife" on an Air Force base. Sheree North and Rita Moreno co-star. [Reairs May 9th at 7:30AM and on May 24 at Noon.]

6:25PM-8PM, Sun: TURN THE RIVER, 92m.
Asshole-character actor Chris Eigeman made his writer-director debut with this small, Cassavettes-esque drama about a lady pool shark looking to make one big score and leave town with her son. Famke Janssen, Rip Torn and Jaymie Dornan star. [Reairs at 4:30AM and on the 29th at 11:25PM.]

10PM-10:45PM, SHO2: CLASSIC BOXING "2007: Chris Arreola vs. Malcolm Tann"
An eight-round heavyweight fight from three years and 30 pounds earlier in "The Nightmare's" career. I have no memory of him ever fighting on Showtime, probably for good reason.

10PM-Midnight, TCM: STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN, 108m.
I love and hate this movie for the opposite reason I hate and love THE LAST WALTZ: In WALTZ, the musical performances shine while the documentary/interviews never fail to enrage me with Martin Scorcese's shittiness, especially now that half of The Band's original members are dead. In STANDING, however, Paul Justman handles and presents the Funk Brothers in a positive but honest light; it's just that the musical performances push the Brothers back into the shadows, only instead of backing a genuine legend like Marvin Gaye or The Supremes, they're backing …. um, Montell Jordan and Joan Osborne. The performances also disserve the Funks by framing their contribution as being live performers and not as the studio creators they were. Now that the genius of their collective creativity has been preserved on magnetic tape and transcriptions, any competent group of sight-reading musicians can play those songs live -- and that's exactly what the Funk Brothers were in 2001. One thing that WALTZ does right that STANDING doesn't is place each band's performances in a specific historical context; there's a damn good reason why The Band is playing as a backing band to almost every guest who they shared their final stage with; even Neil Diamond serves as a living link to the Tin Pan Alley-kind of songwriting they tried to emulate at times. The singers in STANDING, with one exception, all seem to simply be the biggest names the producers could sign to perform, and the results rarely rise above the kind of cover songs usually recorded to fill out the track listings of Greatest Hits collections. The exception to this being bassist/singer/songwriter Meshell Ndegeocello, who provides not only the most moving of moments in the backstage behind-the-scenes but also the most "alive" performance with "Cloud Nine." Ndegeocello comes off as focused without being tense, deeply engaged without being overzealous; just like a really good James Jamerson bassline.


Thursday April 15


Midnight-2AM, IFC: THE CRYING GAME, 112 m.
Sometimes, I wonder if Orson Welles' ghost is angry that CITIZEN KANE is no longer the most spoiler-ed movie ever made. It's a shame that what Stephen Rea sees in the shower is what people take away from Neil Jordan's thoughtful political thriller -- like KANE, this movie grows more powerful and haunting without its "ah ha! …. wait, what?" ending. I'd also like to think that, if I hadn't already known the ending before I saw the film, I would have noticed how large Dil's hands are for a woman. Forest Whitaker, Jaye Davidson and Miranda Richardson co-star. [Reairs on the 25th at 8:05PM and on the 26 at 12:45AM.]

4:30AM-6:05AM, TCM: NORMAN…IS THAT YOU?, 91m.
Redd Foxx comedy about an old man discovering that his only son is gay. I bet this is one is very sensitively done and respectful. Pearl Bailey and Dennis Dugan costar under George Schlatter's direction.

6:05AM-8:05AM, Sun: NIGHTS OF CABIRIA, 118m.
It's startling and enchanting how late-period Chaplinesque this this 1957 Fellini film is; the film even looks like a sound-era Chaplin in its grain. Giulietta Masina stars, with Amadeo Nazzari. [Reairs at 12:15PM and on the 25th at 7:55AM.]

6:15AM-8AM, TCM: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, 94m.
[Mostly] Lucien Hubard's Verne-inspired 1929 undersea science-fantasy partial-talkie. Let's all hold hands and pray that Turner found and/or restored this film to its original two-strip Technicolor. Two-strip rules, usually. Lionel Barrymore, Jane Daly and Lloyd Hughes star.

8AM-9:30AM, TCM: ONE MILLION B.C., 80m.
Hal Roaches Sr. & Jr. jump into feature-filmmaking with a prehistoric romantic comedy. Carole Landis, Victor Mature and Lon Chaney, Jr star.

8:05AM-9:45AM, Sun: JUMP TOMORROW, 97m.
I'm a sucker for multi-national, indie romantic comedies set in upstate New York, especially when they are occasionally funny and have a leading lady like Natalia Verbeke with support from character actors like Hippolyte Girardot and the old man who plays the deaf grandfather. [Reairs on at 2:15PM, on the 20th at 8:35AM and 1:20PM, and on the 28th at 6:50AM and 12:05PM.]

9:30AM-11AM, TCM: THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, 87m.
Not to take anything away from Christian Nyby, but this sci-fi classic makes more meta-sense as a movie by his mentor Howard Hawks -- Kind of like how POLTERGEIST fits better into Spielberg's oeuvre than Tobe Hooper's -- although I don't know if I'll ever be able to put my finger on the reason[s] why. Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan and James Arness star.

Noon-2PM, FMC: TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CONDOR, 93m.
This 1953 remake of SON OF FURY is not a great film but it's fun, it goes done very easy and it has a few surprisingly sophisticated things to … well, "imply" rather than "say" about race and class in the middle of all the Technicolor derring-do and pageantry going on. One of the 15 films that a young, still green but very talented Anne Bancroft was mostly wasted in as an unheralded contract player at 20th Century Fox in the '50s. Cornel Wilde and George Macready star in a Delmer Daves movie. [Reairs on May 20th at 10:30AM.]

4PM-6:30PM, Sun: ARMY OF SHADOWS, 145m.
Jean-Pierre Melville's classic 1969 Vichy/occupation thriller. Lino Ventura stars. [Reairs on the 21st at 5:30PM, on the 22nd at 8:45AM and on the 25th at 2:15PM.]

4PM-6:05PM, FMC: HOW TO STEAL A MILLION, 123m.
William Wyler! Audrey Hepburn! Hugh Griffith! Peter O'Toole! Charles Boyer! Eli Wallach!

6:30PM-8PM, IFC: EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX, 87m.
Woody Allen's profoundly loose 1972 adaptation of Dr. David Reuben's book about sex is/was [I don't remember when I last saw it, it's been so long] a fun, uneven scattershot of sketches with an all-star cast: Lynn Redgrave, Gene Wilder, Louise Lasser, Lou Jacobi, John Carradine, Regis Philbin, Tony Randall, Burt Reynolds, et al.


Friday April 16


6AM-7:15AM, TCM: HEAVENLY DAYS, 71m.
The antepenultimate Fibber McGee & Molly programmer movie is a surprisingly effective piece of WWII morale boostery, probably because it's such a small, human comedy. Jim & Marian Jordan star in a Howard Estabrook film.

6:50AM-8:30AM, Sun: QUIET CITY, 78m.
Aaron Katz's second feature film is a fine example of "mumblecore," albeit in service for a story that's been told often and far better than it is here. Erin Fisher and Cris Lankenau star. [Reairs at 12:30PM, and on the 29th at 10PM.]

8AM-10AM, IFC: HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, 119m.
A Hayao Miyazaki movie is still a Hayao Miyazaki movie, even if IFC is actually showing the Disney-dubbed version, with the voices of master thespians like Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall and Billy Crystal. My hopes are up that it's in the original Japanese this time, as IFC's guide lists the stars as being Akihiro Miwa and Chieko Baisho. [Reairs at 1:05PM, on the 25th at 8:25AM and on the 26th at 5AM.]

8AM-10AM, FMC: THE PROUD ONES, 90 or 94m.
This film often gets compared to RIO BRAVO [although HIGH NOON might be a better fit], but Marshall Robert Ryan has to deal with a revenge-addled Jeffrey Hunter, a socially powerful Robert Middleton and a downright disrespectful populace and there's no Calvary coming to bail his ass out in the last reel, so far as I can recall. In BRAVO, Wayne and Howard Hawks act like being able to hold off one gang until help arrives is just on this side of impossible. I always thought it was funny that the plot of Wayne & Hawks' right-wing, Real American response to HIGH NOON hinged on the Duke coercing a drunk and a codger to collectively fight for the good of the community. If John Garfield and Dalton Trumbo had made that movie, you know they would have been executed as Commie traitors on the sidewalk in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Anyway, THE PROUD ONES isn't nearly as heralded as a classic as either of those films, but it has gorgeous Cinemascope cinematography and a great performance from Ryan. [Reairs on May 19 at 10AM and on May 27 at 7:30AM.]

10:40AM-12:10PM, RetroPlex: THE 39 STEPS, 87m.
My favorite of Alfred Hitchcock's early British thrillers and the definitive take on the dramatic workhorse. Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll star. [Reairs on the 21st at 9:45AM, and on the 25th at 11:50AM.]

1:55PM-2:10PM, Sun: ALWAYS CRASHING IN THE SAME CAR, 15m.
Duncan Wellaway's black comedy reunites Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann -- at just 15 minutes, it's probably not as great as WITHNAIL & I, but what is. [By the way, IMDB says this is the second time this title has been used for a short film, which I find inexplicably funny.]

6:30PM-8PM, Sun: MURDERBALL, 86m.
Dana Adam Shapiro and Henry-Alex Rubin's documentary about what is apparently "the ultra-macho world of quadriplegic wheelchair rugby, a rough and tumble competition that's part MAD MAX, part roller derby." [Reairs at 5:15AM, on the 26th at 8PM and on the 27th at 6:45AM.]

8PM-10PM, H: THE HUNT FOR JOHN WILKES BOOTH
10PM-12:01AM, H: STEALING LINCOLN'S BODY
First a solid, stolid doc about the two-week manhunt to catch the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln; then possibly the craziest story ever told on the History Channel, rendered even crazier by being told in the channel's carefully measured house style: A bunch of Chicago mobsters decide to steal the President's corpse in 1876 and hold it for ransom. [Reairs at 12:01AM.]

9:30PM-11:15PM, TCM: TOP SECRET!, 90m.
11:15PM-12:45AM, TCM: AIRPLANE!, 88m.
A fine Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker double feature. It's Jim Abrahams who became the pathetically unfunny reactionary asshole after the 9/11 attacks, right? Val Kilmer and Lucy Gutteridge star in the former; Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty and Leslie Nielsen star in the latter.

10PM-Midnight, ESPN2: FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS
It's there if you want it.

10:30PM-12:05AM, SHO2: SUPER SIX WORLD BOXING CLASSIC "Andre Dirrell vs. Arthur Abraham"
So, Andre Dirrell doesn't completely suck. I wasn't surprised that he took every round on the scorecards -- Abraham makes nearly every fight a drama by giving away so many of the early rounds that he must score a knockout in the final stanzas -- but I wouldn't have bet a dollar that he'd be the first man to knock King Arthur down. I looked forward to seeing how Abraham handled being refereed outside of Germany, where he essentially referees himself when it comes to what is and isn't a low blow and even Lawrence Cole made the right calls for most of the fight. The most shocking thing was seeing Dirrell actually outbox Abraham instead of outrun him, with the second-most shocking being him convulsing on the canvas after Abraham punched him after he slipped on water and fell to the mat. Acting or not, that's fucked-up of Abraham, who richly deserved his DQ loss. The look on Arthur's face after seeing the DQ punch on replay was priceless -- it's hard to argue that it was one punch in a combination when you almost never throw combos in the first place, there's clearly a moment's hesitation before you throw the punch and the guy's head was below your waist so you have to lean over a bit to punch him in the head. [Reairs at 1AM and on the 19th at 10:30PM.]

11PM-1AM, SHO: SHOBOX: THE NEW GENERATION
A fairly promising pair of fights showcasing some fine contenders: Fernando Guerrero vs. Michael Walker headlines, but I'm interested to see how Shawn Porter is developing in his match with Raul Pinzon.


Saturday April 17


Midnight-1:30AM, IFC: STRANGELAND, 86m.
Et tu, my Linda Cardellini appreciation? Dee Snider wrote, produced and starred, with a cameo from Robert Englund. [Reairs on the 22nd at 11PM.]

1AM-2:45AM, TCM: THE SILENCERS, 102m.
The first movie in the Matt Helm superspy series. I guess I really will watch anything with Dean Martin in it. Stella Stevens and Victor Buono costar.

8AM-10AM, H: EGYPT: ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE
Another fine History documentary about the clever and hard-working slaves who spent their entire lives working on massive public works for their betters. Slaves! Oh, I suppose they won't linger much about the slaves part -- check out how awesome this old viaduct was, amazing that they could make such a thing back then, etc.

6:30AM-8:15AM, IFC: A FISH CALLED WANDA, 98m.
Just a fun post-Python heist farce. "Heist farce" is grammatically clumsy sounding, but I like that it sounds like the title of a Ron Rege parody. Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin star. [Reairs at 11:45AM and 5:05PM, and on the 27th at 5:05PM.]

8:15AM-10AM, Sun: BOB LE FLAMBEUR, 102m.
Jean-Pierre Melville's 1956 thriller essentially wrote the book for all heist movies that followed. Roger Duchesne and several tons of coolness star. [Reairs at 5:30PM and on the 21st at 3:45PM.]

9AM-10:30AM, TCM: THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, 82m.
As iconic as Basil Rathbone and the Victorian era are in our collective memory of Sherlock Holmes, it's funny that Rathbone only made two Holmes movies set in the gaslight era before the series moved from 20th Century Fox to Universal and the setting was moved forward to modern [1940s] times. This one is a bit of a mishmash of several Holmes stories rather than a straight adaptation. Nigel Bruce and Ida Lupino costar.

10:15AM-11:45PM, IFC: SLEEPER, 88m.
Even now, if Woody Allen made a sci-fi sex comedy, I would probably watch it. Eventually. Diane Keaton co-stars. [Reairs at 3:30PM, on the 18th at 5AM and on the 30th at 10:05AM and 3:45PM.]

11AM-1PM, FMC: PRINCE VALIANT, 100m.
This is one weird concept: Hal Foster's classic illustratorly comic strip comes to the very big screen [it's one of if not the first film shot in CinemaScope, 2.55:1] via director Henry Hathaway and the woefully underrated screenwriter Dudley Nichols [STAGECOACH, BRINGING UP BABY, SCARLET STREET, GUNGA DIN, THE BELLS OF ST. MARY'S, THE INFORMER, etc.], who hit on the fairly ingenious method of adapting the absurdly complex and long continuities of the strip by using panels from the strip as storyboards for the movie. This should be a milk run for making a solid adventure movie, right? They cast Robert Wagner for the lead, Janet Leigh as his Princess Aleta, James Mason as the heavy, The Black Knight and Sterling Hayden as Valiant's comic relief/mentor Sir Gawain. All well and good, but somehow the ingredients don't quite cook the way that, say, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD come together although it may simply be that Wagner's terrible bob wig throws me every time. VALIANT is visually gorgeous but it is curious how fast the film's editing rhythm is; I wonder if it was done with some technical reason due to the new film ratio, or if they just had too much plot to squeeze into even a roadshow-length film, or what. The individual shots are as amazingly composed as you would expect from a movie that Hal Foster "storyboarded." [Reairs on May 19th at 2PM.]

1PM-3:05PM, Sun: JOE STRUMMER: THE FUTURE IS UNWRITTEN, 123m.
Julien Temple's 2007 documentary on the already iconic late musician and activist.

2PM-4:15PM, TCM: THE YEARLING, 128m.
If this movie wasn't so visually lovely, I would have nothing to do with anything so maudlin and manipulative. Technicolor has made me its bitch once again. Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman and Claude Jarman, Jr. star under Clarence Brown's direction.

4:15PM-6PM, TCM: TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME, 93m.
Gene Kelly! Frank Sinatra! Esther Williams! Busby Berkeley! Unknown reasons why this movie's not as well known as any of the other postwar films made by these people around the same time!

8PM-10PM, TCM: STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, 101m.
I chose to believe that Robert Walker transitions so easily from playing sweet, earnest doofuses to black-hearted maniacs because he was just that great an actor, not that he was existentially bent after David O. Selznick cockblocked Walker from his own wife, Jennifer Jones. Had he not died not long after TRAIN was released, it's tempting to imagine Walker becoming something of a Manet figure to all the Actor's Studio firebrands who were just coming up. Farley Granger and Ruth Roman costar under Alfred Hitchcock's direction of a Czenzi Ormonde & Raymond Chandler script adapting the original Patricia Highsmith novel.

8PM-9:30PM, IFC: TRAPPED IN THE CLOSET, 90m.
Chapters 1-12 of R&B singer/piss-enthusiast R. Kelly's adventures in being trapped in a closet will probably damage the weaker psyches amongst us. It's a movie where you really need to get the DVD if you can make it through the entire movie; in a musical whose lyrics are non-stop narration, the DVD's commentary track is Kelly's non-stop narration of the non-stop musical narration of the movie. Somewhere, there's an ever-widening black hole torn in the meta-space continuum and eventually this entire universe will be sucked into it, one viewing of this movie's DVD at a time. [Reairs at 1:30AM.]

9:30-10PM, HBO: 24/7 MAYWEATHER/MOSLEY Episode 2
10PM-12:45AM, HBO: WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
An excellent split-site card: Middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik defends his titles against superslick southpaw Sergio Martinez at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and super-middleweight Lucian Bute fights the still dangerous Edison Miranda at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. [Reairs at 8AM and on the 20th at 12:45AM.]

10PM-1AM, Sun: INLAND EMPIRE, 180m.
David Lynch & Laura Dern's epic-length movie about a movie. Jeremy Irons co-stars. [Reairs on the 28th at 7PM and on the 29th at 1:20AM.]

10PM-11:45PM, TCM: THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, 96m.
Nick Ray's directorial debut; it's telling that the first scene he filmed as a director was the crazy helicopter shot at the film's beginning. Farley Granger, Cathy O'Donnell and Howard da Silva star.


Sunday April 18


6AM-7:45AM, FMC: THE MARK OF ZORRO, 94m.
An enjoyable romantic adventure from the team of director Rouben Mamoulian and stars Tyrone Power and Linda Darnell. [Reairs on the 25th at 6AM, on May 15th at 7:15AM, on May 22 at 8:30AM and on May 24 at 10AM.]

8AM-10:30AM, FMC: THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX, 142m.
The original movie, not the remake -- although I am interested to see the 2005 version, mostly to see Giovanni Ribisi and Hugh Laurie as well as see how big a shit the writer/director/producers take on Robert Aldrich & Lukas Heller's original song to group effort and rationality in the face of all-consuming hostility. I'm guessing the remakers missed that point and focussed more on shit blowing up but good. James Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, Ernest Borgnine, George Kennedy and Hardy Krueger star.

9:05 AM-10:30AM, IFC: DEATH OF A CYCLIST, 85m.
I'm always interested in vintage Spanish cinema, especially its stunted, circumscribed neorealist era, as there's not a lot of journalism/criticism available in English that really digs into the story. As best as I can tell: While the rest of Western Europe spent years as a launch pad for classical neorealists [and their rambunctious little brothers, the New Wave] to make a splash in the world's cinemas, Spain's neorealism boiled down to a handful of under-supported films by a handful of genuinely courageous writer-directors like Luis Garcia Berlanga, Antonio Nieves Conde and the auteur of this 1955 film, Juan Antonio Bardem. Around the same time that CYCLIST was released, Bardem published an essay on how his homeland's cinema was dying under Franco's rule, which I'm sure endeared him to el Generalissimo; Spain's film community remained at best a country-sized backlot for foreign filmmakers and a backwater to escape from for its most talented local creators for years even after Franco was gone. Lucia Bose, Otello Toso, Alberto Closas and Carlos Casaravilla star. [Reairs at 2PM.]

10AM-Noon, TCM: YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER, 97m.
I wish this movie was in a language I didn't understand so that I could ignore its bone-deep stupid, dishonest plot and just enjoy the pretty B&W motion pictures and sound. Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth star.

Noon-2:15PM, TCM: SOME LIKE IT HOT, 121m.
Jack Lemmon! Marilyn Monroe! Tony Curtis! Billy Wilder! Duh!

2:15PM-4PM, TCM: THE PALM BEACH STORY, 88m.
This has been either my favorite Preston Sturges comedy or a close runner-up since the first time I saw it. I sometimes can't tell what's most exhilarating: Sturges' censor-may-care writing, his giddiness in constructing a plot so ludicrous -- it's like a fat man dancing increasingly silly variations of the Charleston with a time bomb strapped to his gut, only his raccoon coat is covering the minutes half of the timer -- or a prime Claudette Colbert's cuteness. Joel McCrea, Mary Astor, Rudy Vallee and Sturges' army of character actors costar.

4PM-6PM, TCM: SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL, 114m.
A mid-'60s romantic comedy starring Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall, based on the proto-Feminist advice book? Directed by Richard Quine of THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG, THE NOTORIOUS LANDLADY and OH DAD, POOR DAD, MAMA'S HUNG YOU IN THE CLOSET AND I'M FEELING SO SAD fame? With a script written by David R. Schwartz and Joseph Heller that showcases a 15-minute car chase near the end? I don't see how this movie was star-crossed in the slightest.

10PM-Midnight, Sun: PAN'S LABYRINTH, 119m.
OK, everyone can stop badgering me about how awesome this movie is and what an asshole I am for not seeing it. I'll still be an asshole after seeing it, by the way; Guillermo Del Toro is a filmmaker, not a miracle worker. Ivana Baquero and Sergei Lopez star. [Reairs at 3AM, on the 21st at 8PM and on the 22nd at 4AM.]


Monday April 19


Midnight-1:45AM,Sun: SUBJECT TWO, 93m.
I caught a chunk of this thoughtful, character-focussed science-fiction drama from Philip Chidel a few weeks back, and thought it was worth seeing all of the next chance I had. The impression I got from the fragment seen was "Atom Egoyan's FRANKENSTEIN." Dean Stapleton and Christian Oliver star. [Reairs at 5AM.]

Midnight-1:30AM, TCM: STEAMBOAT BILL JR., 69m.
1:30AM-2AM, TCM: LOVE, 24m.
Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle bring the funny and win the girl for this week's Silent Sunday Night.

12:30AM-1AM, ESPNC: CLASSIC BOXING "2001: Lennox Lewis vs. Hasim Rahman"
1AM-4AM, ESPNC: RINGSIDE "Lennox Lewis"
It's strange in retrospect, but Lewis was seriously underrated at the time that he was the undisputed heavyweight champion. I assume it was the English accent; everyone knows that a guy with an English accent can't fight for shit, or something.

2AM-3:45AM, TCM: CRUEL STORY OF YOUTH, 97m.
The TCM Import this week is a 1960 drama from Japanese New Wave auteur Nagisa Oshima, starring Yusuke Kawazu, Miyuki Kuwano and Yoshiko Kuga.

2:30AM-4:30AM, FMC: THE SEVEN-UPS, 103m.
What happened to Philip D'Antoni? He produced BULLITT, then THE FRENCH CONNECTION and then produced and directed this film, which is said to have an even more amazing car chase than the previous two, collected an Academy Award or two, produced a few things for TV and then …. nothing. Is there a story there? [Reairs on May 10th at 8PM, on May 29th at 6PM and on May 30th at 4AM.]

6:35AM-8AM, Sun: GARBAGE WARRIOR, 84m.
Oliver Hodge's portrait of architect Michael Reynolds and his remarkable work in utilizing natural and recycled materials to construct off-the-grid "earthships" of homes. [Reairs at 11:40AM and 5:30PM.]

8:15AM-10AM, TCM: MANPOWER, 103m.
It is exactly what you would imagine a 1941 Raoul Walsh movie about a love triangle formed between two power linemen and a nightclub singer cast with Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich and George Raft.

10AM-12:30PM, TCM: THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON, 140m.
I like how commonplace the phrase "romanticized biography" is in some many historical-movie descriptions, even today. I guess it's catchier than "fictionalized to appeal to the basest prejudices, desires and instincts of people who don't actually give a shit history anyway." Anyway, Raoul Walsh does Custer's Last Stand. Reason to watch: Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland star.

10AM-12PM, IFC: BEYOND THE SEA, 118m.
I guess this is supposed to be a huge bomb and an embarrassment? Really? Much like ISHTAR, which is a fine movie [Criterion/Eclipse would do well to release a box of Elaine May's four movies as a writer-director], this Kevin Spacey vehicle is quite enjoyable if you ignore all the horseshit surrounding its reception. Bob Hoskins, Caroline Aaron, John Goodman and Kate Bosworth co-star. [Reairs at 5:30PM and on the 29 at 10AM and 5:15PM.]

10AM-Noon, Sun: CRAZY LOVE, 92m.
A documentary about one of the only tabloid stories with sturdier legs than O.J. Simpson and Jon-Bonet Ramsey: Burt Pugash was a fairly sleazy NYC lawyer who cheated on his wife with a young woman named Linda Riss. Riss found out that Pugash was married and broke off the relationship, and Pugash did what any man would do in his situation; he hired some guys to throw lye in Riss' face, leaving her half-blind and horribly scarred. Pugash served 14 years in jail for the attack, and wrote Riss scads of letters from his cell. I won't give away the ending, which may be an ideal Rorschach blot for gauging one's sense of romance. [Reairs at 3:45PM, on the 27th at Noon and 6:25PM.]

12:30PM-2:15PM, TCM: LARCENY, INC., 95m.
This one sounds like it should be fun: Based on an S.J. Perelman play about "an ex-convict and his gang try to use a luggage store to front a bank robbery, but business keeps getting in the way." Stars Edward G. Robinson, Jane Wyman, Broderick Crawford, Jack Carson and Anthony Quinn.

2:45PM-3:45PM, Sun: LEILA KHALED, HIGHJACKER, 58m.
Lina Makboul's documentary/conversation with the first woman to hijack an airplane. The many reports of Khaled's death were greatly exaggerated, apparently. Shocking!

6PM-8PM, TCM: ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT, 107m.
Hey, youse mugs! These Ratzi spies are trying to destroys our country! And they ain't gonna let us wet our beaks a little? Well, fuck dat -- let's give 'em what's for!!! Humphrey Bogart, Conrad Veidt, Jane Darwell star, with support from Peter Lorre, William Demarest, a very young Jackie Gleason and Phil Silvers. Rah rah, we'll beat the Nazis, even us caricatures from the Warner Bros. backlot, rah.

8PM-9PM, TCM: GEORGE STEVENS: D-DAY TO BERLIN, 46m.
His voiceover work was no great shakes and he really should have placed chyrons to identify which one of "The Stevens Irregulars" was speaking in VO at any given time, but George Stevens, Jr. did a fantastic job taking the full-color footage his father & His Irregulars shot of the action and aftermath of nearly every major campaign of the final act of WWII and making a compelling movie out of it. If I remember right, this was the first time [1994] that a sizable documentary had shown WWII in color, which should have been a much bigger deal than it was.

10PM-10:30PM, SHO: Fight Camp 360
I assume this is a new episode of the superbly made but atrociously scheduled behind-the-scenes look at the ongoing Super Six Super-Middleweight Classic tournament. If it's a new ep, it will presumably focus on the aftermath of Andre Dirrell's DQ win over an out-thought and out-fought Arthur Abraham, and then present a look at the training camps of Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch, the combatants for the Classic's next match later this month. [Reairs on the 20th at 10PM, on the 21st at 4:15AM, on the 22nd at Midnight and 11PM and on the 23rd at 10PM.]

10PM-11:45PM, FMC: THE FLY, 96m.
David Cronenberg's remake of the original drive-in classic. There's still something absolutely wonderful about Jeff Goldblum's mumbly underacting in some of the grosser moments in Brundlefly's life. Geena Davis costars. [Reairs at 2AM, on May 2nd at 2AM, on May 17th at 10PM and on May 27th at 10PM.]


And there's another week.