Some interesting films on US television, July 24-30

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

Video pick of the week—find it in your video store 

The Bride Wore Black (1967)—On the day of their marriage, a woman's husband is shot dead in front of the church. From that day on, the bride (Jeanne Moreau) methodically devotes herself to finding and punishing the snipers. A suspenseful film about obsession and revenge, directed by Francois Truffaut from the novel by Cornell Woolrich. (MJ)

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, July 24

*6:00 am (TCM)— Mission to Moscow (1943)—Pro-Stalin propoganda film, made in Hollywood at President Roosevelt's behest, to soften the American public's attitude toward the Soviet Union as a World War II ally. Fraudulent, vicious portrayal of the Moscow Trials defendants as liars and traitors. From the memoirs of U.S. Ambassador Joseph E. Davies (played by Walter Huston). Directed by Michael Curtiz. (MJ)

8:00 am (AMC)— Land of the Pharaohs (1955)—Howard Hawks' historical epic is full of the typical Hollywood hokum, but the scenes of the building of the pyramids are truly impressive. William Faulkner helped write the screenplay. With Jack Hawkins and Joan Collins. (MJ)

8:10 am (Starz)— 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)

*8:45 am (HBOP)— The Graduate (1967)—Important coming-of-age film about a young man (Dustin Hoffman, in his first big role) deciding whether to throw in his lot with the adult world. Should he cast off his rebelliousness and join the prospering middle class of the late sixties—i.e., go into "plastics"? Anne Bancroft is the memorable middle-aged seductress (and mother of his fiancee) Mrs. Robinson. Excellent music by Simon and Garfunkel. Directed by Mike Nichols. (MJ)

10:30 am (AMC)— Love in the Afternoon (1957)—Billy Wilder directed this film about the affair between a young Parisian woman (Audrey Hepburn) and a middle-aged American businessman (Gary Cooper). Maurice Chevalier is her father, a private detective. This was Wilder's first film cowritten with I.A.L. Diamond. (DW)

12:00 pm (AMC)— River of No Return (1954)—Otto Preminger directed this interesting, relatively somber story. Robert Mitchum rescues a man (Rory Calhoun) and a woman (Marilyn Monroe) from drowning. Calhoun promptly steals his horse and takes off. Vengeful Mitchum, with his young son, and Monroe pursue him by raft. (DW)

*1:20 pm (Encore)— Barry Lyndon (1975)—An intelligent adaptation of William Thackeray's novel about an 18th-century scoundrel, directed by Stanley Kubrick. (DW)

1:30 pm (HBOS)— 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)

4:30 pm (Encore)— Young Frankenstein (1974)—One of Mel Brooks' funnier and more successful parodies, this time of the classic horror film by James Whale. Particularly effective because it uses many of the original sets. With Peter Boyle (as the monster) and Gene Wilder (as Dr. Frankenstein). (MJ)

5:45 pm (Showtime)— Last Action Hero (1993)—Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle that proves to be a delight. A boy goes to a movie theater and meets his idol—an action hero—who steps out of the screen and takes him back in. A good action film that spoofs the genre and plays with the tension between movies and reality. It also includes hilarious sendups of Olivier's Hamlet and Bergman's The Seventh Seal. Directed by John McTiernan. (MJ)

8:00 pm (TCM)— D.O.A. (1950)—Rudolph MatŽ directed this film noir about a man (Edmond O'Brien) who discovers he has been poisoned and attempts to find out why and who has done it in the time he has left. With Pamela Britton, Luther Adler. (DW)

8:00 pm (Bravo)— Dog Day Afternoon (1975)—Based on a true story about a man who held up a Brooklyn bank to raise the money for his lover's sex-change operation. With Al Pacino, John Cazale, Charles Durning. Directed by Sidney Lumet. (DW)

11:00 pm (HBO)— The Devil's Advocate (1997)—Satan (portrayed in an over-the-top performance by Al Pacino) runs a white-shoe law firm in New York City. Keanu Reeves, as an ambitious young lawyer, makes a Faustian bargain and suffers for it. A very funny horror film that trades on the public's distrust of the legal profession. (MJ)

*11:00 pm (TCM)— White Heat (1949)—Not-to-be-missed crime drama about criminal with a serious mother complex. James Cagney is unforgettable in Raoul Walsh's film. (DW)

11:00 pm (HBOS)— Contact (1997)—See 1:30 pm.

12:30 am (Bravo)— Dog Day Afternoon (1975)—See 8:00 pm.

2:30 am (TCM)— Mildred Pierce (1945)—Powerful melodrama, directed by Michael Curtiz, about a woman (Joan Crawford) who goes from rags to riches and her ungrateful daughter. Based on the novel by James M. Cain. (DW)

Sunday, July 25

5:20 am (Encore)— Young Frankenstein (1974)—See Saturday, at 4:30 pm.

7:15 am (AMC)— Jane Eyre (1944)—Robert Stevenson directed this version of the Charlotte Bronte classic about a poor governess thrown into a mysterious household. Joan Fontaine is Jane and Orson Welles an unforgettable Rochester. (DW)

*10:00 am (TCM)— The Asphalt Jungle (1950)—One of the best jewel heist films, and one of director John Huston's best. With Sterling Hayden and Louis Calhern (who has the best line: "Crime is nothing but a left-handed form of endeavor"). (MJ)

10:00 am (FXM)— The Razor's Edge (1946)—An overlong film, with some embarrassingly silly moments, but also some extraordinarily believable ones. With Tyrone Power, looking for the meaning of life, Gene Tierney, Anne Baxter. Directed by Edmund Goulding, from the novel by Somerset Maugham. (DW)

10:15 am (HBOS)— Play It Again, Sam (1972)—Woody Allen's very funny homage to Bogart and Casablanca. Starring and written by Allen, but directed by Herbert Ross. With Diane Keaton. (MJ)

12:00 pm (HBOP)— Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)—Another of Sidney Lumet's tales of police corruption. They are usually incisive, with a good feel for urban realities, but this one, with Andy Garcia as a cop turned crusading DA, is a bit paint-by-numbers. (MJ)

4:45 pm (HBO)— The Fifth Element (1997)—Vacuous, silly science fiction film in which the future of the universe hinges on a Brooklyn cabdriver (played in proletarian style by Bruce Willis) finding something called "the fifth element." Worth seeing only for its imaginative settings and special effects. Typical scenery-chewing villainy by Gary Oldman. Directed by Luc Besson. (MJ)

5:00 pm (Bravo)— Dog Day Afternoon (1975)—See Saturday, at 8:00 pm.

6:00 pm (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. (DW)

*9:30 pm (Encore)— A Clockwork Orange (1971)—Stanley Kubrick's brilliant but thoroughly nasty film about a sadistic young street thug (Malcolm McDowell) in the near future turned into a passive, spiritless citizen by means of a cruel form of aversion therapy. In the process, he also loses his ability to enjoy Beethoven. Kubrick adapted this from the novel by Anthony Burgess, and Burgess always hated the result. (MJ)

9:30 pm (Bravo)— House of Games (1987)—Disappointing film about the world of con artists. David Mamet wrote and directed, and (as usual) his characters talk in a peculiar, stilted way. Much promise, but short on delivery. With Lindsay Crouse and Joe Mantegna. (MJ)

*10:00 pm (TCM)— 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. (DW)

*10:00 pm (AMC)— The Parallax View (1974)—An exceptional, haunting conspiracy film from director Alan Pakula. Journalist (Warren Beatty) investigates a political assassination and the murders of all witnesses to it. He finds himself completely involved and his life in peril. Marvelous vertiginous beginning at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle. With Paula Prentiss, Hume Cronyn, William Daniels. (MJ)

12:00 am (FXM)— The Razor's Edge (1946)—See 10:00 am.

*12:00 am (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. (DW)

12:40 am (TBS)— High Plains Drifter (1973)—Clint Eastwood directed (and stars in) this excellent spaghetti western tale of revenge, into which he poured everything he learned from his mentors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. (MJ)

3:40 am (HBOP)— Face/Off (1997)—Hong Kong action director John Woo lets out all the stops in this exciting, humorous, and (of course) preposterous film about a government agent (John Travolta) and his terrorist nemesis (Nicolas Cage) exchanging faces. (MJ)

4:00 am (Bravo)— House of Games (1987)—See 9:30 pm.

*4:30 am (AMC)— The Parallax View (1974)—See 10:00 pm.

4:35 am (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)

Monday, July 26

*6:00 am (TCM)— The Gay Divorcee (1934)—One of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals. Not famous for its plot, but for its musical numbers, including "Continental" and Cole Porter's "Night and Day." Directed by journeyman Mark Sandrich. (DW)

6:45 am (HBOS)— 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)

7:00 am (Showtime)— Stalag 17 (1953)—Billy Wilder's World War II prison-camp film, with William Holden as a cynical GI accused of being a collaborator with the Germans who then uncovers the real traitors. (DW)

7:45 am (AMC)— Dallas (1950)—A story set in post-Civil War Dallas, with Gary Cooper seeking revenge on those who wronged him. Ruth Roman and Steve Cochran co-star. Directed by Stuart Heisler. (DW)

9:00 am (HBOS)— Little Women (1933)—See Sunday, at 4:35 am.

9:00 am (TMC)— Detective Story (1951)—William Wyler's somewhat dated film about the activities inside a New York City police station. Kirk Douglas is a bitter cop, Eleanor Parker his wife, William Bendix another detective. The good cast also includes Horace McMahon, Lee Grant and Joseph Wiseman. (DW)

*9:30 am (IFC)— Rashomon (1950)—Well-known work by Japanese master Akira Kurosawa. In medieval Japan, four people give differing accounts of violent attack by a bandit on a nobleman. With Toshiro Mifune. (DW)

9:45 am (HBOP)— 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)

*12:00 pm (HBOP)— The Ice Storm (1997)—Excellent film by Ang Lee of aimlessness and disillusionment in the 1970s. As the middle class disintegrates in suburbia, we see the disintegration of the White House playing out in the background as the Watergate crisis runs its course. The fine cast includes Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, Jamey Sheridan, and Christina Ricci. (MJ)

1:30 pm (HBOS)— Contact (1997)—See Saturday, at 1:30 pm.

*4:00 pm (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." (DW)

4:00 pm (Bravo)— House of Games (1987)—See Sunday, at 9:30 pm.

*4:30 pm (IFC)— Rashomon (1950)—See 9:30 am.

5:30 pm (Showtime)— 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)

8:00 pm (FXM)— Julia (1977)—Vanessa Redgrave won an Oscar for her performance as the anti-fascist Julia based on Lillian Hellman's autobiographical work, Pentimento. With Jane Fonda, Jason Robards; directed by Fred Zinnemann. (DW)

8:00 pm (TCM)— Reckless (1935)—Chorus girl (Jean Harlow) marries a drunk of a millionaire and finds herself in deep water. With William Powell and Franchot Tone. Directed by Victor Fleming. Remade as Written on the Wind in 1957. (DW)

*9:50 pm (Encore)— Full Metal Jacket (1987)—Stanley Kubrick directed this film about the Vietnam war, which in its first half—Marine training at Parris Island—may be the most harrowing depiction of military life ever put on film (mainly due to the presence of ex-drill instructor Lee Ermey). However, as a coherent anti-war film, it does not equal Kubrick's own Paths of Glory. (MJ)

10:15 pm (Showtime)— Five Easy Pieces (1970)—Early Jack Nicholson film that helped define his sardonic screen persona. He plays a concert pianist from a wealthy family who opts to work on an oil rig. Watch for the memorable scene in the diner between Nicholson's character and a waitress. Directed by the underappreciated Bob Rafelson. With Karen Black, Billy "Green" Bush, and Susan Anspach. (MJ)

*3:30 am (TCM)— The Thin Man (1934)—The first of the films featuring husband-and-wife detection team of Nick and Nora Charles, with more than a touch of madcap comedy. With William Powell and Myrna Loy as the duo. Directed by W.S. Van Dyke. (MJ)

3:30 am (HBOS)— A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)—See 6:45 am.

Tuesday, July 27

*7:30 am (IFC)— Rashomon (1950)—See Monday, at 9:30 am.

11:10 am (Starz)— Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)—See Monday, at 5:30 pm.

12:05 pm (Showtime)— One-Eyed Jacks (1961)—Marlon Brando's only directing effort. He plays an outlaw seeking revenge on Karl Malden, a former friend, now a sadistic sheriff. (DW)

*1:00 pm (HBOP)— The Graduate (1967)—See Saturday, at 8:45 am.

4:00 pm (IFC)— La Strada (1954)—Federico Fellini directed this work about a brutal carnival strongman (Anthony Quinn), his long-suffering girl-friend (Giuletta Masina) and a kindhearted acrobat (Richard Basehart). (DW)

4:00 pm (TCM)— Kiss Me Kate (1953)—Vulgar, brassy production of Cole Porter musical, with Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson, based on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Directed by George Sidney. (DW)

5:30 pm (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. (DW)

*6:00 pm (FXM)— The Gang's All Here (1943)—Delightful Busby Berkeley film, with the usual lush and intricate musical sequences, but this time in rich Technicolor. Watch for the not-so-subliminal chorus line of bananas in Carmen Miranda's "The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat" number. (MJ)

8:00 pm (TCM)— The Fugitive (1947)—Henry Fonda is a unorthodox priest wanted by the government in Mexico. He is turned in by a man who once helped him, in this John Ford film. (DW)

9:00 pm (TMC)— Sliding Doors (1998)—Charming, likable light comedy hinges on a gimmick that works well: the film shows the two paths the main character's life could take depending on whether or not she misses her train. A vehicle for the talented Gwyneth Paltrow, performing with a flawless British accent. (MJ)

9:30 pm (Showtime)— Twilight (1998)—Crisp dialogue and good plotting carry this film about an elderly detective (Paul Newman) solving murders in Hollywood. Excellent cast also includes Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, and James Garner. Many smart observations about growing old. Directed by Robert Benton, from a screenplay by Benton and novelist Richard Russo. (MJ)

10:00 pm (TCM)— Viva Villa! (1934)—Wallace Beery does a lively job of portraying the Mexican revolutionary, Pancho Villa. Ben Hecht wrote the script, which plays fast and loose with historical fact. Directed by Jack Conway. (DW)

*11:00 pm (Bravo)— The Parallax View (1974)—See Sunday, at 10:00 pm.

4:30 am (TCM)— The Big Steal (1949)—Crime drama, in which Robert Mitchum is chasing a payroll robber and is, in turn, chased by William Bendix. Jane Greer provides the love interest. Directed by Don Siegel. (DW)

Wednesday, July 28

*6:45 am (TMC)— 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)

7:45 am (IFC)— La Strada (1954)—See Tuesday, at 4:00 pm.

*8:00 am (FXM)— The Gang's All Here (1943)—See Tuesday, at 6:00 pm.

9:15 am (HBOS)— A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)—See 6:45 am.

10:30 am (AMC)— The Molly Maguires (1970)—Sean Connery and Richard Harris co-starred in this well-meaning film about the secret organization of Irish-born miners in Pennsylvania in the 1870s. Directed by Martin Ritt. (DW)

*11:30 am (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)

12:00 pm (Starz)— Ishtar (1987)—See Saturday, at 8:10 am.

12:30 pm (AMC)— The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)—See Tuesday, at 5:30 pm.

1:15 pm (IFC)— La Strada (1954)—See Tuesday, at 4:00 pm.

1:45 pm (HBOS)— Marathon Man (1976)—Exciting, convoluted spy thriller about stolen jewels, Nazis hiding out in the US, and the CIA. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Roy Scheider. Laurence Olivier is particularly effective as a sadistic Mengele-type dentist. Directed by John Schlesinger. (MJ)

*4:00 pm (Bravo)— The Parallax View (1974)—See Sunday, at 10:00 pm.

4:00 pm (AMC)— Gypsy (1962)—Unfortunate film adaptation of the great Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents musical. Rosalind Russell does not have the necessary fire in her belly for the role of Mama Rose. Worth seeing for the music, but look for the recent, far better, made-for-TV version with Bette Midler. Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Also starring Natalie Wood and Karl Malden. (MJ)

5:30 pm (Showtime)— Last Action Hero (1993)—See Saturday, at 5:45 pm.

6:00 pm (HBOS)— Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)—See Sunday, at 12:00 pm.

8:00 pm (TNT)— Carrie (1976)—Director Brian De Palma can never entirely restrain himself, but this film is more interesting than most of his others. Sissy Spacek plays a high school misfit, equipped with telekinetic powers, who wreaks revenge on her tormentors. Piper Laurie, a fine actress, is memorable as her mother. (DW)

9:00 pm (HBOS)— A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)—See 6:45 am.

*10:00 pm (AMC)— The Manchurian Candidate (1962)—A Korean War hero (Laurence Harvey) returns to the US, brainwashed by his Chinese captors and programmed to kill a presidential candidate. Ostensibly a cold war conspiracy thriller, this film turns around and becomes an intense satirical attack on right-wing politics. Angela Lansbury gives a superb performance as the war hero's villainous mom, as does James Gregory, playing a politician based on Senator Joe McCarthy. The baroque direction is by John Frankenheimer, from the novel by Richard Condon. With Frank Sinatra and Janet Leigh. (MJ)

*11:00 pm (Bravo)— Blue Collar (1978)—Paul Schrader (screenwriter of Taxi Driver, among other films) wrote and directed this work about corruption in an auto union in Detroit. Richard Pryor and Harvey Keitel co-starred. (DW)

11:15 pm (HBOP)— The Ice Storm (1997)—See Monday, at 12:00 pm.

*3:45 am (AMC)— The Manchurian Candidate (1962)—See 10:00 pm.

4:00 am (TCM)— Flamingo Road (1949)—Michael Curtiz directed this political melodrama about a stranded carnival performer who runs up against a corrupt local politician when she marries into a distinguished family. With Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott and Sydney Greenstreet. (DW)

Thursday, July 29

6:30 am (HBOS)— The Producers (1968)—Mel Brooks wrote and directed his funniest film, about two producers whose plan—to mount a deliberately awful Broadway musical that will flop and thereby bring them a tax bonanza—backfires. Starring Gene Wilder and the great, rarely seen (because of blacklisting) Zero Mostel. (MJ)

*8:30 am (Sundance)— Harlan County, U.S.A. (1977)—Powerful documentary by Barbara Kopple about the mineworkers strike in Harlan County, Kentucky. (MJ)

12:15 pm (HBOS)— Play It Again, Sam (1972)—See Sunday, at 10:15 am.

*1:30 pm (Sundance)— Last Year at Marienbad (1961)—Alain Resnais' enigmatic film is one of the classics of French cinema. It asks questions (never answered) about the nature of time and memory. A marvelous film to watch, with its energetically mobile camera and lengthy tracking shots down ornate corridors. (MJ)

*1:30 pm (USA)— Sea of Love (1989)—New York City cop searches for serial killer. Directed by Harold Becker from an excellent screenplay by novelist Richard Price, this was Al Pacino's comeback film after a long period of unwise role choices. (MJ)

*4:00 pm (Bravo)— Blue Collar (1978)—See Wednesday, at 11:00 pm.

*6:00 pm (Sundance)— Harlan County, U.S.A. (1977)—See 8:30 am.

*8:00 pm (AMC)— 12 Angry Men (1957)—Gripping film that takes place in only one room as 12 jurors struggle to reach a verdict. During the process each reveals his character. Great cast headed by Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, and E.G. Marshall. Directed by Sidney Lumet. (MJ)

8:00 pm (Bravo)— Dog Day Afternoon (1975)—See Saturday, at 8:00 pm.

9:45 pm (AMC)— The Naked Jungle (1954)—Above-average jungle adventure directed by Byron Haskin, with Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker. (DW)

*12:00 am (TCM)— White Heat (1949)—See Saturday, at 11:00 pm.

*12:30 am (Encore)— A Clockwork Orange (1971)—See Sunday, at 9:30 pm.

1:30 am (Bravo)— Dog Day Afternoon (1975)—See Saturday, at 8:00 pm.

*1:45 am (AMC)— 12 Angry Men (1957)—See 8:00 pm.

*2:00 am (TCM)— She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949)—The second part of John Ford's cavalry trilogy, with John Wayne as an officer about to retire, drawn into campaign against a group of Indians. With Joanne Dru, Ben Johnson, Victor McLaglen. (DW)

*2:00 am (USA)— Sea of Love (1989)—See 1:30 pm.

2:00 am (IFC)— Ran (1985)—Akira Kurosawa's epic version of Shakespeare's King Lear, about a warlord who provokes a conflict between his sons by handing over power to the eldest. (DW)

*3:00 am (Sundance)— Last Year at Marienbad (1961)—See 1:30 pm.

3:05 am (HBO)— Face/Off (1997)—See Sunday, at 3:40 am.

3:30 am (AMC)— The Naked Jungle (1954)—See 9:45 pm.

4:00 am (TCM)— Dodge City (1939)—One of the Errol Flynn-Olivia de Haviland cycle of films, usually directed by either Michael Curtiz or Raoul Walsh. Curtiz directed this one, a rousing, lively Western. With the Warner Bros. company of character actors. (DW)

*4:30 am (Sundance)— Harlan County, U.S.A. (1977)—See 8:30 am.

Friday, July 30

6:00 am (HBOS)— Contact (1997)—See Saturday, at 1:30 pm.

6:00 am (TCM)— Dark Victory (1939)—Bette Davis is a socialite who learns she has a terminal illness. George Brent is her brain surgeon husband. Directed by Edmund Goulding. (DW)

8:15 am (HBO)— The Fifth Element (1997)—See Sunday, at 4:45 pm.

10:30 am (Showtime)— Stalag 17 (1953)—See Monday, at 7:00 am.

*11:00 am (TNT)— Excalibur (1981)—John Boorman directed this lush adaptation of the King Arthur legend at fever pitch. As with all of Boorman's work, it is carefully made and embodies his unique, fantasic vision. Starring Helen Mirren, Nigel Terry, and Nicol Williamson (outstanding as a sardonic, antic Merlin). (MJ)

11:25 am (Encore)— A Wedding (1978)—Robert Altman doing what he does bestÑdirecting a large ensemble of actors. Carol Burnett stars in this amusing, farcical film. (MJ)

*11:30 am (HBOS)— The Ice Storm (1997)—See Monday, at 12:00 pm.

12:00 pm (Bravo)— Dog Day Afternoon (1975)—See Saturday, at 8:00 pm.

2:30 pm (HBOP)— Contact (1997)—See Saturday, at 1:30 pm.

2:45 pm (AMC)— Niagara (1953)—Marilyn Monroe is an adulterous wife planning to kill her husband (Joseph Cotten) on their honeymoon at Niagara Falls, in this somewhat overwrought, but tense film, directed by Henry Hathaway. (DW)

4:00 pm (FXM)— At Long Last Love (1975)—Burt Reynolds and Sybill Shepherd can neither sing nor dance—they are definitely not Astaire and Rogers. Still, it's fun to watch them mangle Cole Porter's beautiful music and lyrics. Peter Bogdanovich's glitzy, expensive film proves that a warm affection for 1930's film musicals is not enough. One of the great bombs. With Madeline Kahn (often funny, despite her material) and John Hillerman. (MJ)

4:30 pm (AMC)— I Was a Male War Bride (1949)—Cary Grant is a French officer marrying a WAC (Ann Sheridan) and encountering a series of dilemmas. The film is very funny, and it also provides director Howard Hawks an opportunity to examine sexual roles, and subvert them. (DW)

5:00 pm (HBOP)— Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)—See Sunday, at 12:00 pm.

5:45 pm (HBO)— The Fifth Element (1997)—See Sunday, at 4:45 pm.

6:30 pm (AMC)— Nothing Sacred (1937)—Fredric March is a cynical reporter who sets out to make headlines with the story of a Vermont girl (Carole Lombard) supposedly dying from radium poisoning. Ben Hecht wrote the script and William Wellman directed. (DW)

*8:00 pm (IFC)— The Dead (1987)—John Huston's deeply felt adaptation of James Joyce's short story, one of the best in the English language. This was Huston's last film; it ended his great career on a high note. With Anjelica Huston and Donal McCann. (MJ)

8:00 pm (AMC)— 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)

10:30 pm (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. (DW)

11:00 pm (USA)— The Fly (1986)—David Cronenberg's film about a scientist (Jef Goldblum) who experiments on himself and evolves into a human fly. Cronenberg apparently saw his character's condition as a metaphor for AIDS. Geena Davis is the woman who stands by him. As usual, Cronenberg gets caught up in the machinery of his conceits and loses track of his theme. (DW)

*2:15 am (TNT)— Excalibur (1981)—See 11:00 am.

2:30 am (AMC)— Bringing Up Baby (1938)—See 8:00 pm.

3:10 am (HBO)— 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. (MJ)

4:30 am (AMC)— You Can't Take It With You (1938)—See 10:30 pm.