Some interesting films on US television, July 18-24

By David Walsh
18 July 1998

Asterisk indicates a film of exceptional interest

Saturday, July 18

1:00 a.m. (Bravo)-- The American Friend (1977)--One the most interesting films from German director Wim Wenders, about the problem of American influence in Europe. Dennis Hopper's Ripley, a shady character, and Bruno Ganz' German picture-framer are thrown together in a criminal enterprise. Based on the novels of Patricia Highsmith. With Lisa Kreuzer and Gerard Blain.

10:30 a.m. (AMC)-- The Gunfighter (1950)--Gregory Peck is a gunslinger trying to live down his past. Henry King directed, from a script by William Bowers and Andre de Toth.

5:00 p.m. (TCM)-- No Time for Sergeants (1958)--Occasionally funny film about hillbilly Andy Griffith and his adventures in the US Air Force. Myron McCormick is memorable as his harried sergeant. With Nick Adams and Don Knotts. Directed by veteran Mervyn LeRoy.

5:30 p.m. (USA)-- Wall Street (1987)--Oliver Stone directed this film about Wall Street sharks and their comeuppance with his usual subtlety and restraint. With Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen and Michael Douglas.

Sunday, July 19

12:30 a.m. (USA)-- Wall Street (1987)--See Saturday at 5:30 p.m.

12:35 a.m. (TBS)-- Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970) --The formerly blacklisted Albert Maltz wrote the script, from a story by director Budd Boetticher, about a drifter (Clint Eastwood) who helps a "nun" (Shirley MacLaine) stage an uprising in Mexico. Veteran action filmmaker Don Siegel directed.

2:55 a.m. (TBS)-- A Fistful of Dollars (1964)--In the first of Sergio Leone's Italian Westerns Clint Eastwood, in the role that made him a star, plays the Man With No Name. The story, a remake of Kurosawa's Yojimbo, involves warring families in a border town. Ennio Morricone's score is striking. With Gian Maria Volonté and Marianne Koch.

9:00 a.m. (AMC)-- The Killers (1946)--Robert Siodmak directed this film adaptation of the Ernest Hemingway story about a gangster waiting for two hit men to kill him. The film explains why. With Burt Lancaster in his film debut, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien, Albert Dekker, Charles McGraw, Sam Levene. John Huston, uncredited, contributed to the script.

10:00 a.m. (TCM)-- The Big Sleep (1945)--Howard Hawks version of the Raymond Chandler novel, with a script by William Faulkner. Detective Philip Marlowe (Bogart) becomes involved with wealthy girl (Bacall) and her spoiled, irresponsible sister. Don't bother to figure out who did the murders, the director reportedly wasn't certain.

2:00 p.m. (Comedy)-- Married to the Mob (1988)--Michelle Pfeiffer is the widow of a Mafia hit man, trying to change her life. Dean Stockwell is the crime boss who lusts for her. With Matthew Modine. A semi-amusing, semi-conformist film, directed by Jonathan Demme.

3:30 p.m. (TCM)-- Band of Angels (1957)--A remarkably complex look at black-and-white relations in Civil War America. Clark Gable plays a Southern gentleman with a past as a slave trader, Yvonne DeCarlo is a Southern belle who discovers she has black ancestors and Sidney Poitier is an educated slave. Directed by Raoul Walsh, from the novel by Robert Penn Warren.

6:00 p.m. (FX)-- The French Connection (1971)--Gene Hackman is fine as a New York City policeman chasing drug traffickers. William Friedkin directed the proceedings at a breakneck pace. His subsequent work shows that this film was overrated at the time. With Roy Scheider, Tony LoBianco.

6:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Mogambo (1953)--A remake of Victor Fleming's Red Dust (1932), with Clark Gable playing the same role, Ava Gardner replacing Jean Harlow and Grace Kelly stepping in for Mary Astor. John Ford directed the film, about big-game hunting and a love triangle in Africa.

6:00 p.m. (USA)-- Casino (1995)--Martin Scorsese directed this story about gambling and thugs in Las Vegas in the 1970s. The first 10 minutes are spectacular. The drama never really gets going, in the director's typical fashion. With Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci, James Woods.

8:00 p.m. (Comedy)-- Married to the Mob (1988)--See Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Monday, July 20

11:00 a.m. (Bravo)-- Germinal (1993)--Claude Berri's expensive, turgid adaptation of the famous Zola novel (1884), about French coal miners, their struggles and personal dramas. With Gerard Depardieu, Miou-Miou, Laurent Terzieff and many others.

12:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Don Juan (1926)--A historical curiosity, with John Barrymore in a silent, swashbuckling role. With Mary Astor, Barrymore's love of the time, Warner Oland, Estelle Taylor, early Myrna Loy. Directed by Alan Crosland.

12:00 p.m. (TNT)--2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)--Stanley Kubrick's science fiction epic. A space vehicle heads for Jupiter in search of aliens. One critic, somewhat unfairly, called it a project "so devoid of life and feeling as to render a computer called Hal the most sympathetic character in a jumbled scenario." Despite silly ending, the film is worth seeing.

9:00 a.m. (AMC)-- A Star is Born (1954)--Judy Garland is the star on the way up and James Mason the unfortunate drunk on the way down, in George Cukor's version of the tragic tale. A remake of the 1937 film made by William Wellman, with Fredric March and Janet Gaynor.

12:00 p.m. (AMC)-- Artists and Models (1955)--An extravagant Frank Tashlin cartoon, with Jerry Lewis, Dean Martin, Dorothy Malone and Shirley MacLaine.

8:00 p.m. (TCM)-- The Naked Spur (1953)--One of the best Westerns of the 1950s. James Stewart is a bounty hunter in post- Civil War US, bringing in Robert Ryan. Janet Leigh is Ryan's girlfriend. To Stewart, Ryan is simply a congealed amount of cash; apparently he will do anything for the money. Shot beautifully in the Rockies. Directed by Anthony Mann.

9:45 p.m. (Bravo)-- Germinal (1993)--See Monday at 11:00 a.m.

10:00 p.m. (TCM)-- The Man from Laramie (1955)--Top-notch Anthony Mann Western, with James Stewart looking for the man who killed his brother. Morally ambiguous, as Mann's best films generally are. With Arthur Kennedy, Donald Crisp, Cathy O'Donnell, Alex Nicol.

Tuesday, July 21

12:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Man of the West (1958)--Gary Cooper, a former outlaw trying to reform, is forced to join forces with his sadistic ex-boss (Lee J. Cobb) in a bank robbery to save himself and his companions. With Arthur O'Connell and Julie London. Directed by Anthony Mann.

3:15 a.m. (Bravo)-- Germinal (1993)--See Monday at 11:00 a.m.

6:00 a.m. (AMC)-- The Lodger (1944)--John Brahm's atmospheric retelling of the Jack the Ripper story, with Merle Oberon and George Sanders, among others.

9:30 a.m. (TCM)-- The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)--Director Richard Brooks's strained effort to capture F. Scott Fitzgerald's story, now set in post-World War II Europe. A tale of disillusionment and loss. With Elizabeth Taylor and Van Johnson.

5:45 p.m. (Bravo)-- The American Friend (1977)--See Saturday at 1:00 a.m.

Wednesday, July 22

12:00 a.m. (TNT)-- Singin' In the Rain (1952)--Is there anyone who hasn't seen this film by now? Anyway, it's a remarkable musical, with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor, about the days of silent film. Stanley Donen and Kelly directed.

2:15 a.m. (TNT)-- West Side Story (1961)--Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins co-directed this screen version of the remarkable Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim musical. Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer are dull, Rita Moreno, Russ Tamblyn and George Chakiris are memorable. Romeo and Juliet set in New York City of the 1950s.

3:45 a.m. (Bravo)-- The American Friend (1977)--See Saturday at 1:00 a.m.

4:30 a.m. (TCM)-- Run of the Arrow (1957)--Samuel Fuller, American primitive, wrote and directed this tale about a Confederate soldier (Rod Steiger) who joins up with Sioux Indians after the defeat of the South. Not for the literary-minded.

10:00 a.m. (History)-- In Which We Serve (1942)--Noel Coward and David Lean directed this patriotic war film, told in flashback, about a crew on a British destroyer and on leave. Coward costars, with John Mills, Bernard Miles, Celia Johnson and Richard Attenborough (the latter two making film debuts).

10:00 a.m. (TCM)-- The Big Sleep (1945)--See Sunday at 10:00 a.m.

11:00 a.m. (Bravo)-- The American Friend (1977)--See Saturday at 1:00 a.m.

12:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Lady in the Lake (1946)--Robert Montgomery directed himself as Raymond Chandler's private detective Philip Marlowe. The camera, as a novelty, takes the first-person (Montgomery's) point of view.

1:45 p.m. (AMC)-- You Can't Take It With You (1938)--Frank Capra's version of the George S. Kaufman-Moss Hart comedy about the antics of an eccentric during the Depression. Starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur.

2:00 p.m. (USA)-- Canadian Bacon (1995)--To divert attention from domestic problems the US president (Alan Alda) and his advisers cook up a scheme to launch a war against a most unlikely enemy, Canada. John Candy has several marvelous moments as a red-blooded American patriot, but, all in all, Michael Moore's script and direction are far too buffoonish.

3:00 p.m. (Bravo)-- Charley Varrick (1973)--A modest, intelligent Don Siegel action picture, superior to most films of the 1970s. Varrick is a smalltime crook who robs money from the Mob by accident. With Joe Don Baker, as a menacing hit man, Sheree North and John Vernon.

3:00 p.m. (History)-- In Which We Serve (1942)--See Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

8:30 p.m. (AMC)-- All That Heaven Allows (1955)--Extraordinarily perceptive view of postwar America. Jane Wyman plays a rich woman in love with a gardener. Her children and friends do everything to disrupt the relationship. The scene in which her children give her a television as a present is a classic. Directed by Douglas Sirk, the basis for R.W. Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul.

Thursday, July 23

2:00 a.m. (USA)-- Canadian Bacon (1995)--See Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.

6:00 a.m. (AMC)-- Ride the Pink Horse (1947)--Robert Montgomery directed himself as a man coming to a New Mexico town to blackmail a gangster (Fred Clark) during a fiesta. Interesting film noir type, with Wanda Hendrix and Thomas Gomez.

11:00 a.m. (Bravo)-- Charley Varrick (1973)--See Wednesday at 3:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m. (USA)-- The Age of Innocence (1993)--Martin Scorsese's disappointingly flat, unironic filming of Edith Wharton's extraordinary novel about New York society in the 1870s. Worth seeing, however.

6:30 p.m. (AMC)-- Captain Lightfoot (1955)--Rock Hudson is a somewhat unlikely nineteenth century Irish rebel in Douglas Sirk's costume drama. With Barbara Rush and Jeff Morrow. Made in Ireland with Sirk's usual visual precision and beauty.

8:00 p.m. (AMC)-- Jane Eyre (1944)--Robert Stevenson directed this version of the Charlotte Brontë classic about a poor governess thrown into a mysterious household. Joan Fontaine is Jane and Orson Welles an unforgettable Rochester.

9:00 p.m. (Sci)-- Fahrenheit 451 (1966)--François Truffaut's adaptation of the Ray Bradbury dystopian science fiction story about a world in which firemen are sent around to set fire to books, which are banned items. Oskar Werner plays a fireman who rebels; with Julie Christie.

Friday, July 24

2:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Easy Living (1949)--Victor Mature is a retired professional football player married to a grasping woman (Lizabeth Scott). Irwin Shaw wrote the screenplay; directed by the stylish Jacques Tourneur. With Lucille Ball, Lloyd Nolan, Paul Stewart.

2:15 a.m. (AMC)-- A Woman's Vengeance (1948)--Hungarian-born Zoltan Korda directed an intelligent Aldous Huxley script about a philandering husband suspected of murdering his wife. With Charles Boyer, Ann Blyth, Jessica Tandy, Cedric Hardwicke.

1:00 p.m. (AMC)-- The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)--William Wyler's occasionally affecting drama about ex-servicemen in postwar America. With Fredric March, Dana Andrews, Myrna Loy, Virginia Mayo and Teresa Wright.

2:30 p.m. (TCM)-- The Badlanders (1958)--A minor, but well-made Delmer Daves Western, with Alan Ladd and Ernest Borgnine planning a gold robbery in Arizona at the turn of the century. Each attempts to outsmart the other. With Katy Jurado and Claire Kelly.

11:00 p.m. (USA)-- Cape Fear (1991)--Martin Scorsese directed this ambitious, but overblown and generally unsuccessful remake of the 1962 J. Lee Thompson-Robert Mitchum-Gregory Peck film. This time Nick Nolte is a lawyer whose family is stalked by a vicious ex-convict (Robert De Niro). Jessica Lange is Nolte's wife, Juliette Lewis his daughter.

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