Some notes about what’s showing this upcoming week on Turner Classic Movies:
Double Harness (Sunday, 7/29, 8 AM ET) — An interesting curiosity from 1933 that demonstrates how gender roles have changed. Little-known-today Ann Harding tricks playboy William Powell into marriage (by being caught in his apartment, after which he’s pressured to “do the right thing”) and then works to show him that he really loves her by making him into a successful businessman. A bit talky, since it was based on a play, but just over an hour in length, so not too much of a commitment. I’m still not sure the ending, which turns screwball, works with the cultural commentary of the rest but it’s entertaining. Her performance is impressive enough to have me watch for her in other movies, though, and he’s always a treat.
Beyond the Rocks (Sunday, 7/29, midnight ET) — I know nothing about this silent film, but it’s from 1922 (age fascinates me) and stars two huge names of that era, Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino. According to IMDB, it was lost for most of its life before being rediscovered in 2003.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (Tuesday, 7/31, 4:45 PM ET) — I don’t like this movie. It’s much too long (3 hours), and for all that its star-studded cast is full of cool people, they’re wasted, for the most part. (Several of them seem to be hamming it up much more than usual, too, in order to stand out.) It’s much funnier to hear people talk about the good bits than it is to have to sit through them. Mostly, I want to know what this is doing listed under “Aviation in the Movies”.
Flying Down to Rio (Wednesday, 8/1, 4 AM ET) — This, on the other hand, features that amazing musical number putting girls all over the wings of biplanes. Turns out it’s also the first Astaire-Rogers movie.
With August comes “Summer Under the Stars”, in which each day is dedicated to a particular luminary. Whether you think there’s anything good on thus depends on whether you enjoy watching the names they’ve picked. This year’s a big different, with notable big names (Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis) missing in favor of some lesser-known and sometimes odd choices (Buster Keaton, whom I adore, Jane Russell, Joan Bennett, Dana Andrews, and Sean Connery, new this year).
I’m apathetic about Elizabeth Taylor on Wednesday and Joan Crawford on Friday, but I do want to point this out:
Lawrence of Arabia (Thursday, 8/2, 1:30 PM ET) — I’m not a big fan of 60s films unless they’re wacky, so I can’t appreciate much of Peter O’Toole’s oeuvre as shown this day. However, you owe it to yourself to see this one on as big a screen as possible, just to appreciate the astounding desert vistas. The scenery’s a major character in this one, demonstrating how surroundings shape their inhabitants. (And yes, I’m recommending it even though it has no women in speaking roles. It’s very much a boys’ club, which might be another reason I don’t like 60s cinema.) O’Toole has never been lovelier, with those piercing eyes.