Inspired by Ed Cunard, here’s what I recommend this week on Turner Classic Movies:
That’s Entertainment! (Sunday, 7/8, 6 AM ET) — A star-studded clip show featuring numbers from MGM musicals. An excellent quick introduction to the genre using examples from the studio that was best at it.
Raintree County (Monday, 7/9, 6 AM ET) — I haven’t seen it, and I don’t plan to, since it’s reportedly a slow three hours, but I’m fascinated by its costs. An attempt to improve on Gone With the Wind, it was the most expensive film to date, although it’s probably best known today for being the film Montgomery Clift was working on when he had his near-tragic car accident. Stars Elizabeth Taylor at her loveliest as a Southern belle with madness in her lineage.
Spielberg on Spielberg (Monday, 7/9, 8 PM ET) — TCM does pretty good documentaries, and this is their latest. I’m not quite as enamored of his work as some, but he’s certainly been influential. They’re also showing Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind this evening.
The Philadelphia Story (Wednesday, 7/11, 10 PM ET) — A classic, with full-strength stars at the peak of their talents. Katharine Hepburn has to choose between ex-husband Cary Grant, unpolished reporter Jimmy Stewart, and some no-name she’s engaged to. Very funny and incredibly well-done.
Dark Passage (Thursday, 7/12, 9:45 AM ET) — Perhaps the least-known Bogart/Bacall film, but worth watching all the same. He’s an escaped convict, wrongly accused of his wife’s murder. She’s a sympathetic artist, nursing him after plastic surgery to disguise his identity (during which she ties him to his bed at night to keep him flat on his back to prevent problems with healing). We don’t see him until halfway through the film, with the camera until that point serving as his eyes, an effectively creepy technique. It’s also an eye-opener seeing Agnes Moorhead at her prime as a scheming vixen, after growing up with her as Endora.
Forbidden Planet (Friday, 7/13, 6:15 PM ET) — A masterpiece of science fiction kitsch that’s still visually interesting. It introduces the immortal Robbie the Robot and stars Leslie Nielsen before he became a spoofster and the lovely young Anne Francis. Plus, it helped inspired The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Casablanca (Saturday, 7/14, 2 PM ET) — Please tell me you’ve seen this already. If not, watch it; if so, enjoy it again.
Also of note, Fox Movie Classics is showing Sunrise on Sunday, 7/15, at 6 AM. I know little about it, except that it was awarded Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production, at the first Oscars. Wings won Best Production, which became what we think of as the Best Picture award today. This was the only year with the double awards. Great chance to check it out, and I still marvel at being able to watch an 80-year-old film in the comfort of my own home.