Some notes about what’s showing this week on Turner Classic Movies:
Soylent Green (Saturday, 9/15, 6:00 PM ET) — Most people know the surprise ending by now, and the 1973 set design isn’t nearly as tackily outdated or interesting as one would hope, so I can’t recommend watching this. But I thought I’d bring it to your attention in case you want to see Charlton Heston in another of his pseudo-sci-fi action movies or Edward G. Robinson in his final film. More trivia: This was reportedly the last film shot at the MGM studios. And someone actually runs a Soylent Green Biscuit Company.
Designing Woman (Sunday, 9/16, 6:00 AM ET) — Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck in what I thought was a remake of the Hepburn/Tracy Woman of the Year but apparently isn’t listed as such. Anyway, the plots are similar: a sports reporter falls in love with a successful woman, and the two discover their lives don’t mesh at all. Great cast, beautiful 1950s fashions and setting, but polished to the extent of removing most of its life.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Sunday, 9/16, 10:00 AM ET) — I had the ViewMaster of this when I was a kid. I remember very little of it besides Angela Lansbury’s sensible witch making the brass bed fly, so I was surprised to see the cover emphasize animated characters. I guess they were there, and it is a Disney movie… oh! I remember something else… a floating tea party held near the ceiling. This has a lot more in common with Mary Poppins than I remember, to the extent of using one of its discarded musical numbers.
Suspicion (Tuesday, 9/18, 6:15 PM ET) — Cary Grant does Hitchcock, as a charming ne’er-do-well whose wealthy, shy wife becomes suspicious of his motives. Today’s audience may find it a little slow, since they’re not as accepting of slow motivation building and they’re more used to grasping character subtly. And neither audiences now or then seem able to believe such a good-looking man, with his self-possession, could be a possible murderer. But it’s one of the best Hitchcocks, in my opinion, especially when it comes to not overly fetishizing its female character.
Lady in the Lake (Saturday, 9/22, 8:00 AM ET) — A Philip Marlowe noir made unusual through its format: it was shot with the camera in the place of the detective throughout. Which makes me wonder what Robert Montgomery got paid for. Voiceovers? Oh, wait, there are points at which he looks in a mirror and we see him. And he directed the movie as well. A curiosity.