Some interesting films on US television, June 27-July 3

By David Walsh
27 June 1998

An asterisk indicates a film of exceptional interest.

Saturday, June 27

9:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)--Robert Wise directed this competent biography of New York-born boxing champion Rocky Graziano. Paul Newman plays Graziano; with Pier Angeli, Everett Sloane and, in his film debut, Steve McQueen.

*11:00 a.m. (Bravo)-- Amarcord (1974)--Fellini's semi-autobiographical work about a small town in Italy under Mussolini. In many ways, an extraordinary film.

11:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Cimarron (1931)--Dated early sound Western epic; a version of Edna Ferber's account of an American family living on the frontier in Oklahoma 1890-1915. Wesley Ruggles directed; with Richard Dix hamming it up, and Irene Dunne.

12:00 p.m. (TNT)-- Them! (1954)--One of the extraordinary 1950s black-and-white science fiction films, products of Cold War paranoia and insecurity, among other things. This one is about giant ant mutations terrorizing the Southwest and ultimately Los Angeles. Directed by Gordon Douglas. James Whitmore and Edmund Gwenn costar. (Also, Sunday, at 2:35 a.m.)

*1:15 p.m. (AMC)-- Stagecoach (1939)--Famed Western, directed by John Ford, about a group of disparate passengers thrown together on the same eventful journey. Starring John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine. Dudley Nichols wrote the script.

1:15 p.m. (TCM)-- A Fine Madness (1966)--Sean Connery is a poet in this amusing, if idealized and sanitized look at nonconformism. Joanne Woodward, Jean Seberg, Colleen Dewhurst and Renee Taylor make things interesting. Directed by Irvin Kershner.

5:00 p.m. (AMC)-- Sergeant Rutledge (1960)--Woody Strode plays a black US cavalry officer charged with rape and murder in post-Civil War America. John Ford directed.

8:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Love With the Proper Stranger (1963)--Natalie Wood is pregnant and Steve McQueen is her musician boyfriend in this occasionally affecting film shot on location in New York's Greenwich Village. Directed by Robert Mulligan.

*11:00 p.m. (AMC)-- The Third Man (1949)--Carol Reed directed this sharp look at life in post-World War II Vienna, impoverished and corrupt, where the Cold War is beginning to take shape. Orson Welles plays the mysterious Harry Lime and, one suspects, contributed to the overall feel of the film. Score, played on the zither by Anton Karas, is justly famous.

Sunday, June 28

1:00 a.m. (TCM)-- The Cincinnati Kid (1965)--Norman Jewison directed this film about a big poker game in New Orleans. The performances of Steve McQueen, Tuesday Weld and Edward G. Robinson are the best things in the film.

*3:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Kid Galahad (1937)--Classic hard-boiled, no-nonsense Warner Bros. film of the 1930s. Edward G. Robinson is the boxing promoter, Wayne Morris is the fighter on the rise, Bette Davis is the girl who comes between them. Michael Curtiz directed with his customary efficiency and flair.

*12:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Top Hat (1935)--One of the finest of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals, directed by Mark Sandrich. The plot, for those who care, involves mistaken identity. It is the songs by Irving Berlin and the dance numbers that count here, including "Cheek to Cheek," "Isn't This a Lovely Day to Be Caught in the Rain," and "Top Hat, White Tie and Tails."

*12:00 p.m. (TNT)-- 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. (Also, Monday at 12:30 a.m.)

*2:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Swing Time (1936)--Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in top form, but at a time when their popularity had begun to decline. Immortal songs by Jerome Kern include "The Way You Look Tonight," "A Fine Romance," and "Never Gonna Dance." George Stevens directed.

4:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Follow the Fleet (1936)--One of the more mediocre Rogers-Astaire films, with a plot involving a double romance (Randolph Scott and Harriet Hilliard [Nelson] form the other pair). The film's highlight is Irving Berlin's "Let's Face the Music and Dance." Directed by Mark Sandrich.

*9:00 p.m. (TNT)-- The Searchers (1956)--John Ford classic. John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter search for Wayne's niece, taken by Indians. Natalie Wood plays the girl. An essential American film.

10:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)--Sissy Spacek, who did her own singing, is excellent in this slightly sanitized biography of country singer Loretta Lynn, born in poverty in Kentucky. Tommy Lee Jones as her husband, Beverly D'Angelo as Patsy Cline and Levon Helm as her coal miner father also stand out. Directed by Michael Apted. (Also, Friday at 8:00 p.m.)

Monday, June 29

1:00 a.m. (AMC)-- Call Northside 777 (1948)--A solid, matter-of-fact drama about a reporter (James Stewart) righting a wrong: proving that a convicted killer is innocent. With Richard Conte and Lee J. Cobb.

3:15 a.m. (TNT)-- 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.

7:30 a.m. (TCM)-- The Set-Up (1949)--Dull Robert Wise directed this story about a washed-up fighter refusing to give up or throw a fight. Robert Ryan, an underrated actor, is excellent as the boxer. With Audrey Totter, George Tobias and Wallace Ford.

*10:30 a.m. (TCM)-- Citizen Kane (1941)--Orson Welles's classic work, the tragic story of a newspaper tycoon with delusions of grandeur. Based loosely on the life of millionaire William Randolph Hearst, the film was essentially suppressed when it came out.

*2:00 p.m. (AMC)-- Foreign Correspondent (1940)--Joel McCrea is the correspondent caught up in a spy intrigue in Alfred Hitchcock's film, with George Sanders, Robert Benchley, Herbert Marshall, Laraine Day.

8:05 p.m. (TBS)-- Thelma & Louise (1991)--Ridley Scott directed this film about two women who inadvertently become fugitives from the law and take off across America in their convertible. The script tries too hard to combine the road movie genre with its feminism and fails to convince, but Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are memorable as the pair.

8:15 p.m. (AMC)-- Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)--Melodrama set in Hong Kong during the Korean War, with Jennifer Jones as a Eurasian doctor who falls for William Holden. Directed by Henry King.

Tuesday, June 30

*6:00 a.m. (TCM)-- The Lusty Men (1952)--A film about rodeo cowboys, with Robert Mitchum as the ex-champion who becomes a mentor to newcomer Arthur Kennedy. Mitchum then falls for Kennedy's wife, Susan Hayward. Full of moral ambiguities, directed by Nicholas Ray.

*7:30 a.m. (AMC)-- Sullivan's Travels (1941)--A classic Preston Sturges satire. A Hollywood director (Joel McCrea) suddenly discovers a social conscience and sets out to make a "serious" film, much to the consternation of the film studio. Veronica Lake is the working class girl he meets on his travels.

10:00 a.m. (TCM)-- I Want to Live! (1958)--Susan Hayward is prostitute-crook Barbara Graham, framed up, according to the movie, and sent to the gas chamber. A remarkable anti-death-penalty film made at a time when opposition to capital punishment was gaining strength in the US. Directed by Robert Wise.

1:30 p.m. (AMC)-- The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)--James Stewart, a little long in the tooth, plays Charles Lindbergh in this mediocre Billy Wilder film about the first trans-Atlantic flight in 1927.

6:30 p.m. (AMC)-- Canyon Passage (1946)--Stylish Jacques Tourneur directed this Western set in Oregon about settlers facing Indian attacks and the consequences of white man's greed. With Brian Donlevy, Susan Hayward and Dana Andrews.

11:30 p.m. (AMC)-- Gentlemen's Agreement (1947)--Gregory Peck is a writer who pretends to be Jewish to gauge anti-Semitism. Moss Hart wrote the relatively tame script; Elia Kazan directed.

Wednesday, July 1

*12:00 a.m. (TNT)-- The Maltese Falcon (1941)--John Huston classic, based on the Dashiell Hammett novel, with Humphrey Bogart as private detective Sam Spade. Sidney Greenstreet, Mary Astor and Peter Lorre brilliantly costar.

2:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Little Women (1949)--Mervyn LeRoy directed this, the second version of Louisa May Alcott's novel about sisters growing up in New England during the Civil War. This version is inferior to George Cukor's 1933 film. June Allyson, Margaret O'Brien, Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh costar.

*6:00 a.m. (TCM)-- They Live by Night (1949)--Wonderful, tragic film directed by Nicholas Ray about doomed young lovers during the Depression. Based on Edward Anderson's Thieves Like Us, remade, under that title, in 1974 by Robert Altman. With Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell.

7:45 a.m. (TCM)-- Side Street (1949)--Anthony Mann directed this story about a young man driven to theft, whose troubles multiply. The same stars as Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night: Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell.

12:15 p.m. (AMC)-- I Walk Alone (1948)--Interesting film noir, with Burt Lancaster as a man out of prison after 14 years, looking to settle some scores or at least make sense of things. With Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas, Marc Lawrence and Wendell Corey. Byron Haskin directed.

3:30 p.m. (AMC)-- Battle Cry (1955)--Raoul Walsh World War II melodrama, about the lives and loves of a group of Marines getting ready for battle, with Van Heflin, Aldo Ray, Tab Hunter and Dorothy Malone.

*6:00 p.m. (TCM)-- The Shop Around the Corner (1940)--James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan are coworkers who, unbeknownst to themselves, have entered into a romance through letters. Marvelous Ernst Lubitsch film, occasionally precious, but deeply felt.

9:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Symbol of the Unconquered (1921)--A rarity on television, a silent film directed by Oscar Micheaux, an early black director. A black woman encounters prejudice when she goes to claim a mine she has inherited. With Lawrence Chenault, Iris Hall.

Thursday, July 2

12:00 a.m. (AMC)-- The Heiress (1949)--William Wyler directed this screen version of the stage play based on Henry James's Washington Square. Some memorable moments, with Olivia de Haviland as the poor, neglected heroine, Ralph Richardson as her monstrous father, and Montgomery Clift as her fortune-hunting suitor. Score by Aaron Copland.

4:00 a.m. (A&E)-- The Last Detail (1973)--Hal Ashby directed this sometimes moving and amusing account of the last days of freedom of a young sailor (Randy Quaid) who faces years in the brig for a minor infraction. Jack Nicholson and Otis Young are the career sailors who decide to show him a little fun.

2:00 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 family during the Depression. Starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur.

*4:15 p.m. (AMC)-- Written on the Wind (1956)--One of Douglas Sirk's extraordinary films about 1950s America and its discontents. Robert Stack is a drunken heir to an oil fortune, Dorothy Malone his restless sister. They destroy themselves and others without ever understanding why. Not to be missed.

*6:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Woman of the Year (1942)--Katharine Hepburn as a globetrotting political commentator and Spencer Tracy as a sports reporter, in their first film together. Entertaining film, directed by George Stevens, marred by a conformist ending.

9:00 p.m. (USA)-- Working Girl (1988)--Mike Nichols's relatively superficial look at a working class girl (Melanie Griffith) from Staten Island who aspires to yuppiedom. Harrison Ford is the object of her affections, Sigourney Weaver her boss. (Also, Friday at 11:30 a.m.)

*11:45 p.m. (AMC)-- Bend of the River (1952)--Excellent Anthony Mann-James Stewart collaboration. Stewart is former outlaw guiding wagon trains west; Arthur Kennedy is his ex-partner in crime who now steals settlers' supplies. Remarkable moral drama about what violent events do to people and the choices they have.

Friday, July 3

1:30 a.m. (AMC)-- Heaven Can Wait (1943)--Don Ameche stars as a dead man seeking entry to hell, who recounts in flashback what he thinks has been a life full of sin. With Gene Tierney and Charles Coburn. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

6:30 a.m. (AMC)-- The Star (1952)--Stuart Heisler directed this film about a movie star whose career is a thing of the past, with Bette Davis, Sterling Hayden and a young Natalie Wood.

8:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Glory Alley (1952)--Fine character actor Ralph Meeker is a boxer who quits just prior to the big fight. Flashbacks explain his story. Directed by Hollywood veteran Raoul Walsh, with Leslie Caron, Gilbert Roland and an appearance by Louis Armstrong.

2:00 p.m. (Comedy)-- Diner (1982)--Barry Levinson wrote and directed this sympathetic account of a group of young men who hang out in a diner in 1950s Baltimore. With Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Timothy Daly, Ellen Barkin.

2:15 p.m. (History)-- Gettysburg (1993)--Ronald Maxwell's meticulous recreation of the great Civil War battle. With Tom Berenger, Jeff Daniels, Martin Sheen, Sam Elliott and many others. (Also, Friday at 5:30 p.m.)

2:30 p.m. (AMC)-- Monkey Business (1952)--Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers in a Howard Hawks comedy about a chemistry professor who comes up with youth serum. Marilyn Monroe and Charles Coburn costar.

4:00 p.m. (TCM)-- An American in Paris (1951)--Classic MGM musical directed by Vincente Minnelli and built around its Gershwin score; Alan Jay Lerner wrote the screenplay. Gene Kelly is an artist torn between gamine Leslie Caron and wealthy Nina Foch. With the irrepressible Oscar Levant.

6:30 p.m. (AMC)-- Magnificent Obsession (1954)--The first, and perhaps least ironic, of Douglas Sirk's extraordinary 1950s melodramas, starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson.