Some interesting films on US television, January 23-29

By Marty Jonas (MJ) and David Walsh (DW)
23 January 1999

Asterisk indicates a film of exceptional interest. All times are EDT.

A&E=Arts & Entertainment, AMC=American Movie Classics, FXM=Fox Movie Channel, HBOF=HBO Family, HBOP=HBO Plus, HBOS=HBO Signature, IFC=Independent Film Channel, TCM=Turner Classic Movies, TMC=The Movie Channel, TNT=Turner Network Television

Saturday, January 23

6:15 a.m. (AMC)-- Five Graves to Cairo (1943)--Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett wrote the screenplay for this North African wartime intrigue drama; Wilder also directed. Franchot Tone stars. (DW)

*8:00 a.m. (AMC)-- The Gunfighter (1950)--A famous gunfighter tries to retire and find peace in his later years, but his reputation follows him like a curse. A young gunslinger, eager to make a reputation for himself, challenges the older man to a final shootout. One of the best Westerns, somber and tragic, with fine performances by Gregory Peck and Skip Homeier. Directed by Henry King. (MJ)

*11:30 a.m. (FXM)-- The Culpepper Cattle Company (1972)--An unjustly forgotten film about a naive young man joining up with a cattle drive. Grittily realistic depictions of the daily working life of cowboys--the kind of detail rarely shown in Westerns. A gem. With Gary Grimes, Billy "Green" Bush and Geoffrey Lewis. Directed by Dick Richards. (MJ)

11:55 a.m. (Encore)-- Charade (1963)--Delightful Hitchcockian light thriller directed by Stanley Donen. Starring Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Walter Matthau. (MJ)

12:00 p.m. (AMC)-- A Night to Remember (1958)--Well-made and moving film about the sinking of the Titanic, directed by Roy Ward Baker. With Kenneth More, David McCallum, Jill Dixon, Laurence Naismith. Novelist Eric Ambler wrote the script based on the book by Walter Lord. (DW)

*12:00 p.m. (Bravo)-- The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)--Described by one critic as famous Spanish director Luis Bunuel's "most completely achieved fusion of satire, comedy, fantasy and (controlled) emotion." (DW)

12:30 p.m. (TCM)-- David Copperfield (1935)--W.C. Fields as Mr. Micawber and Basil Rathbone as Murdstone are highlights of this lavish film version of the Dickens novel. Freddie Bartholemew is the young David Copperfield. Directed by George Cukor. (DW)

*3:30 p.m. (USA)-- The Godfather, Part II (1974)--A rarity--a sequel that measures up to its predecessor. The origins of the enterprising, murderous Corleone family. With Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino and Diane Keaton. Directed by Francis Coppola. (MJ)

*8:00 p.m. (Starz)-- Wag the Dog (1997)--Very timely. A US president hires a PR team to distract attention from a sex scandal by fabricating a war with Albania. Barry Levinson's film has political bite, and the screenplay by David Mamet is sinister and funny. Great ensemble acting by Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Denis Leary and Anne Heche. (MJ)

*10:00 p.m. (IFC)-- Living in Oblivion (1995)--Sometimes amusing look at the making of a (relatively) low-budget film, with Steve Buscemi as the harassed director. James Le Gros as a spoiled, self-important rising star (allegedly based on director Tom DiCillo's experiences with Brad Pitt) is the highlight of the film. (DW)

12:00 a.m. (Comedy)-- National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)--Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo star in this often hilarious low comedy about a quintessentially middle-class family's cross-country trip to the Wally Land theme park. The sequences with Imogene Coca are especially funny. Directed by Harold Ramis. (MJ)

*1:30 a.m. (FXM)-- The Culpepper Cattle Company (1972)--See 11:30 am.

Sunday, January 24

6:00 a.m. (TMC)-- Arizona Dream (1993)--Yugoslav director Emir Kusturica (Underground) directed this self-consciously offbeat film about a drifter (Johnny Depp), his car salesman uncle (Jerry Lewis), and an oddball mother and daughter (Faye Dunaway and Lili Taylor). (DW)

8:00 a.m. (HBO)-- Contact (1997)--An intelligent, refreshingly non-xenophobic film on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Jodie Foster plays the single-minded astrophysicist in this adaptation from the novel by the late Carl Sagan. Unfortunately, toward the end the film becomes mushy-minded and tries to make its peace with religion. (MJ)

*8:00 a.m. (TMC)-- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)--Spirited acting (by Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas) and direction (by John Sturges) make this one of the more memorable films of this legendary clash. (MJ)

11:30 a.m. (AMC)-- Breaking Away (1979)--Intelligent story of group of "townies" in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. Directed by Peter Yates. (DW)

*12:00 p.m. (Cinemax)-- All About Eve (1950)--Joseph Mankiewicz wrote and directed this classic about backstabbing in the world of the theater. The dialogue is nonstop witty and incisive. Memorable performances by George Sanders and Bette Davis. (MJ)

3:15 p.m. (TMC)-- Serpico (1973)--Al Pacino plays a loner cop taking on corruption in the New York Police Department. As always, director Sidney Lumet captures the texture of New York City. (MJ)

4:00 p.m. (TNT)-- Rain Man (1988)--Barry Levinson's anti-Reaganite work, with Dustin Hoffman as an autistic man and Tom Cruise, a 1980s Babbitt, as his yuppie hustler brother. (DW)

*4:30 p.m. (HBOS)-- Barbarians at the Gate (1993)--James Garner is outstanding in this saga of the 1980s, about the corporate piracy that led to the takeover of RJR Nabisco. Larry Gelbart wrote the witty screenplay for the made-for-cable film. (MJ)

*6:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Little Caesar (1930)--Mervyn LeRoy directed Edward G. Robinson as a smalltime hood who rises to the top of the crime world. From the novel by W.R. Burnett. (DW)

1:50 a.m. (TNT)-- American Gigolo (1980)--Paul Schrader wrote and directed this flawed but fascinating study of an upscale male prostitute. Starring Richard Gere. (MJ)

2:00 a.m. (Comedy)-- The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)--A cult film that is actually quite good, in a campy way. The cross-dressed performance by Tim Curry is particularly outrageous. (MJ)

2:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Moby Dick (1956)--John Huston's not entirely successful adaptation of Herman Melville's classic novel. Gregory Peck is an unexciting Captain Ahab; Richard Basehart is Ishmael. Huston and Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay. (DW)

Monday, January 25

*5:00 a.m. (Showtime)-- The Warriors (1979)--Walter Hill's bizarre and exciting retelling of Xenophon's ancient Greek classic The March Up-Country. Set in nighttime New York City, the film shows members of a juvenile gang fighting their way back to the Bronx. (MJ)

6:00 a.m. (TCM)-- The Crowd Roars (1932)--James Cagney is a race car driver in this early sound film, directed by Howard Hawks. With Joan Blondell and Ann Dvorak (who was to star in Hawks's immortal Scarface the same year). (DW)

10:00 a.m. (History)-- War and Peace (1956) [Part 1]--An intelligent, if not inspired, version of Tolstoy's masterwork about Russian society, directed by King Vidor. With Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer. (DW)

12:00 p.m. (HBOP)-- Ishtar (1987)--One of the most famous failures in recent Hollywood history, Elaine May directed this $40 million picture, which stars Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman. Interesting as an historical curiosity. (DW)

*12:30 p.m. (AMC)-- Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)--A Preston Sturges comedy. Eddie Bracken, rejected by the military, is mistaken for a war hero by his hometown. William Demarest is marvelous. (DW)

*1:00 p.m. (TCM)-- The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)--John Garfield and Lana Turner play the illicit and doomed lovers in the film based on James M. Cain's novel. They kill her husband, the owner of a roadside diner, and suffer the consequences of nearly getting away with it. Tay Garnett directed. (DW)

*2:00 p.m. (HBOP)-- Chinatown (1974)--The best example of modern film noir. A convoluted tale of incest, corruption, and the fight over access to southern California water. Jack Nicholson plays the private detective. With Faye Dunaway, John Huston. Directed by Roman Polanski. (MJ)

3:00 p.m. (History)-- War and Peace (1956) [Part 1]--See 10:00 am.

4:00 p.m. (HBOS)-- The Poseidon Adventure (1972)--Of interest because it was made when disaster films were peopled by real actors and not filled with ultra-expensive special effects, cartoonish characters and pretty faces. The preposterous story has a luxury liner and its passengers being turned over by a gigantic ocean wave; the passengers must find their way out of the upside-down vessel. The good cast includes Gene Hackman, Roddy McDowell, Shelley Winters, Ernest Borgnine and Jack Albertson. Directed by Ronald Neame. (MJ)

*4:00 p.m. (Showtime)-- The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)--Woody Allen combines Keaton's Sherlock Jr. and Fellini's The White Sheik to come up with a satisfying tale about a drab housewife (Mia Farrow) romanced by a character (Jeff Daniels) who literally steps out of the movie screen. (MJ)

8:00 p.m. (Comedy)-- National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)--See Saturday at 12:00 am.

10:45 p.m. (HBOF)-- Gattaca (1997)--In this future capitalist society, your place in the productive process is determined by your genetic makeup--which is mapped at birth and stays with you as your main ID for life. One man rebels against the system. Andrew Niccol wrote and directed this intelligent film, highly derivative of the fiction of Philip K. Dick. (MJ)

11:00 p.m. (VH1)-- This Is Spinal Tap (1984)--Rob Reiner directed this mock documentary about a fading rock band on its final tour. He also appears as filmmaker Marty DiBergi, with Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, and Tony Hendra playing members of the band, in this hilarious parody of all the solemn, pretentious films about rock groups. (MJ)

12:35 a.m. (HBOF)-- Contact (1997)--See Sunday at 8:00 am.

1:30 a.m. (Starz)-- Against All Odds (1984)--Decent remake of the 1947 film noir Out of the Past. Good performances by Jeff Bridges, Rachel Ward and James Woods. Directed by Taylor Hackford. (MJ)

3:30 a.m. (Starz)-- Everyone Says I Love You (1996)--Woody Allen at his most romantic and artificial. In this, Allen's only musical, people break into song (not unnaturally) and seem to have a genuinely good time, in a cliquish kind of way. The locales are Venice, Paris, and (of course) the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and very quickly the upper-crust, smug liberal values of the jet set characters become insufferable. With Edward Norton, Goldie Hawn and Alan Alda. (MJ)

*4:00 a.m. (A&E)-- The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)--Overlooked film by Bob Rafelson about the American dream and those who foolishly pursue it. Jack Nicholson atypically plays an introvert. With Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn and Scatman Crothers. (MJ)

Tuesday, January 26

6:00 a.m. (AMC)-- To Each His Own (1946)--Wartime drama, with Olivia de Haviland as an unwed mother giving up her child and pretending to be his aunt. John Lund plays both her lover and her son. Directed by Mitchell Leisen with some finesse. (DW)

*6:00 a.m. (TCM)-- High Sierra (1941)--Wonderful, hard-boiled Raoul Walsh film about an ex-convict (Humphrey Bogart) and the two women in his life, a lame girl, Joan Leslie, whose treatment he pays for, and the tough, no-nonsense Ida Lupino. Final chase sequence in the mountains captures something essential about America. Written by John Huston and W.R. Burnett. (DW)

*6:00 a.m. (IFC)-- The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978)--R.W. Fassbinder's epic film of postwar German economic and emotional life: a woman whose husband goes missing in World War II builds a business empire at a considerable cost. With the remarkable Hanna Schygulla. Essential viewing. (DW)

10:00 a.m. (History)-- War and Peace (1956) [Part 2]--See Monday at 10:00 am.

11:00 a.m. (HBOS)-- The Sun Also Rises (1957)--Star-filled adaptation of the Hemingway novel. Glossy and inadequate. Directed by Henry King. (MJ)

11:30 a.m. (Cinemax)-- Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)--Steven Spielberg's special-effects-filled take on UFO sighting as a religious experience. Starring Richard Dreyfuss. (MJ)

1:30 p.m. (TCM)-- Rhapsody in Blue (1945)--"Biography" of the great American composer George Gershwin, heavy on the schmaltz. Robert Alda plays Gershwin. Directed by Irving Rapper. (MJ)

3:00 p.m. (History)-- War and Peace (1956) [Part 2]--See Monday at 10:00 am.

*4:00 p.m. (Bravo)-- Diary of a Chambermaid (1964)--Luis Bunuel shows, perhaps too elliptically, the rise of fascism in 1930s France; at the same time, he skewers the bourgeoisie, its foibles and perversions. Jeanne Moreau plays a chambermaid in a French rural estate, during which time a child is brutally murdered by an overseer who is a leader of Action Francaise. Well done, but the motivations are vague and it is too diffuse to be powerful. (MJ)

4:00 p.m. (Comedy)-- National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)--See Saturday at 12:00 am.

4:30 p.m. (HBOS)-- Rosemary's Baby (1968)--John Cassavetes is excellent as ambitious actor who involves himself in diabolical activities to advance his career. Mia Farrow is his unsuspecting wife. Roman Polanski wrote the screenplay, based on the Ira Levin potboiler, and directed. (DW)

5:00 p.m. (VH1)-- This Is Spinal Tap (1984)--See Monday at 11:00 p.m.

8:00 p.m. (TNT)-- The Sting (1973)--A pair of con men (Paul Newman and Robert Redford) pull an intricate scam on a gangster during the Depression. Good, playful, with lots of surprises. Memorable score made up of Scott Joplin ragtime music. With Robert Shaw. Directed by George Roy Hill. (MJ)

*9:00 p.m. (TMC)-- Sweet Smell of Success (1957)--A remarkably frank look at the public relations and gossip column rackets, with Tony Curtis as a press agent who makes a deal with an egomaniacal columnist (Burt Lancaster) to break up the romance of the latter's sister. Directed by the talented Alexander Mackendrick (DW)

11:00 a.m. (HBOS)-- The Sun Also Rises (1957)--See 11:00 am.

11:00 p.m. (IFC)-- Gas Food Lodging (1992)--Amiable film about a waitress (Brooke Adams) at a diner in Laramie, New Mexico, trying to get by, with two daughters. Directed by Allison Anders; with James Brolin, Ione Skye, Fairuza Balk. (DW)

11:20 p.m. (Encore)-- The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974)--Richard Dreyfuss, in an early role, plays a canny, upwardly striving young man in the Jewish section of Montreal. Ted Kotcheff directed, and Mordecai Richler wrote the screenplay from his own novel. (MJ)

12:00 a.m. (TCM)-- The Defiant Ones (1958)--Stanley Kramer, "the most extreme example of thesis or message cinema," directed this tale of two escaped convicts, one black and one white, chained together as they try to make their way in the South. With Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. (DW)

*1:15 a.m. (Starz)-- Wag the Dog (1997)--See Saturday at 8:00 p.m.

*2:15 a.m. (IFC)-- The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978)--See 6:00 am.

*4:00 a.m. (Bravo)-- Diary of a Chambermaid (1964)--See 4:00 p.m.

*4:15 a.m. (TCM)-- Bringing Up Baby (1938)--Classic screwball comedy, with Katharine Hepburn as bedazzling, eccentric heiress and Cary Grant as the sedate zoologist whose life she turns upside down. Howard Hawks directed this comedy of sex and morals. (DW)

4:15 a.m. (IFC)-- Gas Food Lodging (1992)--See 11:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 27

9:30 a.m. (HBOS)-- Little Women (1933)--George Cukor's film version of the Louisa May Alcott classic, perhaps the best of the lot. Four sisters growing up in Civil War America, with Katharine Hepburn and Joan Bennett. (DW)

10:30 a.m. (AMC)-- Men in War (1957)--The seriously underrated Anthony Mann directed this film about the Korean War. With a cast of stalwart character actors, including Robert Ryan, Aldo Ray and Vic Morrow (father of Jennifer Jason Leigh). (DW)

11:00 a.m. (TNT)-- The Sting (1973)--See Tuesday at 8:00 p.m.

*4:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Strange Cargo (1940)--One of the strangest films ever to come out of Hollywood. Prisoners escape from Devil's Island, and it turns out that one of them may or may not be Jesus Christ. With Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and Ian Hunter. Directed by Frank Borzage. (MJ)

*4:00 p.m. (TMC)-- Once Upon a Time in the West (1969)--Sergio Leone's drawn-out classic anti-Western, with Claudia Cardinale as the owner of land made valuable by the impending arrival of the railroad. Henry Fonda is a cold-blooded killer. With Jason Robards and Charles Bronson. Memorable score by Ennio Morricone. (DW)

4:30 p.m. (Cinemax)-- Super Mario Brothers (1993)--Underrated, highly imaginative film version of the popular video game, to which it bears only a slight resemblance. The two plumber brothers (Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo) visit an alternate universe in which evolution took a different course, leaving dinosaurs as the dominant species. Dennis Hopper overacts wonderfully as the dinosaur dictator of this world. (MJ)

*6:00 p.m. (IFC)-- Stroszek (1977)--A group of misfits move from Germany to Wisconsin to find the good life. Instead, they end up in a second-hand trailer and everything quickly goes downhill. This trenchant attack on American culture is one of the best by the important German director Werner Herzog. (MJ)

*6:15 p.m. (AMC)-- Kiss of Death (1947)--Perhaps best known for Richard Widmark's turn as a giggling, psychopathic killer. Victor Mature is a criminal who goes to work for the authorities. Directed by Henry Hathaway. (DW)

8:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Spartacus (1960)--Large-scale epic, which goes on too long, about the great slave rebellion of ancient Rome, directed by Stanley Kubrick (and some scenes by Anthony Mann). With Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons, Laurence Olivier, Peter Ustinov, Charles Laughton and a cast of thousands. (DW)

*8:00 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. (DW)

*8:00 p.m. (Starz)-- Wag the Dog (1997)--See Saturday at 8:00 p.m.

*9:00 p.m. (TMC)-- Bound (1996)--A fine first film by brothers Andy and Larry Machowski. Cinematically, it's a bit of a show-off, but it all works, re-mining familiar film noir elements. A mob money launderer's mistress and her ex-con lesbian lover conspire to run off with the mobster's loot. Played broadly, and often with humor, by Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano. (MJ)

9:00 p.m. (USA)-- The Godfather, Part III (1990) [Part1]--Not the best of the Godfather trilogy, but a cut above most current films. This time, the Corleone family, led by Michael (Al Pacino), gets involved with the sinister machinations of the Vatican and international finance. With Andy Garcia, Diane Keaton and Sophia Coppola. Directed by Francis Coppola. (MJ)

*10:15 p.m. (TNT)-- Escape from Alcatraz (1979)--Clint Eastwood plays a convict determined to break out of Alcatraz, the supposedly inescapable prison. Based on a true story, the film methodically follows Eastwood's efforts. Directed by Don Siegel. (DW)

*11:30 p.m. (TCM)-- Some Like It Hot (1959)--Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Billy Wilder's black comedy about musicians and gangsters during Prohibition. (DW)

*12:00 a.m. (AMC)-- Kiss of Death (1947)--See 6:15 p.m.

12:20 a.m. (HBOF)-- Gattaca (1997)--See Monday at 10:45 p.m.

*2:00 a.m. (AMC)-- Stagecoach (1939)--See 8:00 p.m.

*4:15 a.m. (IFC)-- Stroszek (1977)--See 6:00 p.m.

*4:50 a.m. (TMC)-- Once Upon a Time in the West (1969)--See 4:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 28

*6:30 a.m. (Sundance)-- The Wanderers (1979)--Philip Kaufman's film is an excellent adaptation of Richard Price's fine novel about youth gangs in the Bronx in 1963. With Ken Wahl. (MJ)

10:00 a.m. (IFC)-- Stroszek (1977)--See Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

2:30 p.m. (HBOP)-- Rosemary's Baby (1968)--See Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

2:30 p.m. (Sundance)-- The Wanderers (1979)--See 6:30 am.

4:00 p.m. (TCM)-- The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)--See Monday at 1:00 p.m.

6:45 p.m. (HBOS)-- Chinatown (1974)--See Monday at 2:00 p.m.

8:00 p.m. (TCM)-- Cat People (1942)--The first of the Val Lewton-produced horror films, directed with considerable elegance by Jacques Tourneur. Extraordinary moments of psychological terror. (DW)

*8:00 p.m. (AMC)-- The Grapes of Wrath (1940)--John Ford's version of the John Steinbeck classic novel, about the Joad family, driven from their home in the 1930s "Dust Bowl." Henry Fonda plays Tom Joad. With Jane Darwell, John Carradine. (DW)

9:00 p.m. (USA)-- The Godfather, Part III (1990) [Part 2]--See Wednesday at 9:00 p.m.

9:30 p.m. (TCM)-- The Curse of the Cat People (1944)--Not a horror film at all, this is the story of a lonely girl who conjures up a vision of her father's mysterious first wife (Simone Simon from Cat People). Val Lewton produced, Robert Wise made his directorial debut. (DW)

10:00 p.m. (FXM)-- All That Jazz (1979)--Choreographer/director Bob Fosse's overwrought autobiographical film about his mental and physical crackup. Not strictly speaking a musical, but it is filled with musical numbers--including a bizarre one occurring during the main character's open-heart surgery. With Roy Scheider and Ben Vereen. (MJ)

11:00 p.m. (TCM)-- The Leopard Man (1943)--Val Lewton-Jacques Tourneur thriller about a series of murders in a border town blamed on a leopard. (DW)

11:40 p.m. (HBOP)-- Serial Mom (1994)--Middle-aged suburban mom (played with relish by Kathleen Turner) kills to preserve traditional American values, like rewinding before you return your tape to the video store and not wearing white shoes after Labor Day. This hilarious satire was directed by John Waters. (MJ)

12:15 a.m. (TMC)-- Touch (1987)--Interesting but disappointing film written and directed by Paul Schrader about faith healing in the South. With Christopher Walken and Bridget Fonda. (MJ)

12:30 a.m. (TCM)-- I Walked with a Zombie (1943)--One of the Val Lewton-Jacques Tourneur collaborations, a stylish horror film about a nurse who turns to voodoo to cure a patient. Francis Dee and Tom Conway co-starred. (DW)

*2:15 a.m. (AMC)-- The Grapes of Wrath (1940)--See 8:00 p.m.

Friday, January 29

*6:00 a.m. (TMC)-- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957)--See Sunday at 8:00 p.m.

7:30 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. (DW)

8:00 a.m. (HBO)-- Contact (1997)--See Sunday at 8:00 am.

8:00 a.m. (HBOS)-- The Poseidon Adventure (1972)--See Monday at 4:00 p.m.

1:00 p.m. (AMC)-- A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)--Elia Kazan's version of the Tennessee Williams drama about the strong and the weak in a New Orleans tenement. Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden. (DW)

3:00 p.m. (TMC)-- Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995)--Bizarre crime thriller about horrific revenge exacted by mob boss (played with extreme creepiness by Christopher Walken in a motorized wheelchair) upon local hoods. With Andy Garcia and Steve Buscemi. Directed by Gary Fleder. (MJ)

4:00 p.m. (Comedy)-- History of the World--Part I (1981)--An example of Mel Brooks's scattershot humor. Many jokes are forced and lame, and most routines just limp along, but the Spanish Inquisition sequence, staged as a Busby Berkeley water ballet, is hilarious and worth staying for. (MJ)

4:30 p.m. (HBO)-- Contact (1997)--See Sunday at 8:00 am.

*9:00 p.m. (Bravo)-- Living in Oblivion (1995)--See Saturday at 10:00 p.m.

9:00 p.m. (Comedy)-- History of the World--Part I (1981)--See 4:00 p.m.

9:50 p.m. (Encore)-- After Hours (1985)--Griffin Dunne is a young upwardly mobile professional who has a rough night in lower Manhattan in Martin Scorsese's not terribly funny comedy. (DW)

*1:00 a.m. (Bravo)-- Living in Oblivion (1995)--See Saturday at 10:00 p.m.

*2:00 a.m. (TCM)-- Amarcord (1974)--Fellini's semi-autobiographical work about a small town in Italy under Mussolini. An extraordinary film. (DW)

3:20 a.m. (Cinemax)-- The Firm (1993)--Another film that takes a shot at the legal profession. In this paranoid potboiler, a young, ambitious lawyer finds out that his high-toned firm is totally owned by organized crime. An unremarkable film is saved by a remarkable performance by Gene Hackman (always dependable), playing a cynical partner. From the bestseller by John Grisham.

4:00 a.m. (A&E)-- The Drowning Pool (1975)--Paul Newman, as private detective Harper, becomes entangled in a murder case. Joanne Woodward is his ex-wife. Based on the Ross McDonald novels. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg. (DW)

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