Some notes about what’s showing this week on Turner Classic Movies.
Movies I’m Afraid to Watch
No, not those kinds of monster flicks or slashers.
The Third Man (Saturday, 6/26, 8:30 AM ET) — This, for example, I’ve tried before. I know it’s a suspense classic, but I just can’t get into it. I disappoint myself every time I try, with my attention wandering away from a brooding group of men in post-war Austria. Apparently, the cinematography is what makes it outstanding. I think I need to learn more about that.
Frances (Sunday, 6/27, 2 AM ET) — On the other hand, I think I’d be too emotionally wrung out by this biopic, in which Jessica Lange stars as actress Frances Farmer, who winds up institutionalized. I’m afraid of how much impact it would have on me — I just don’t have the time right now to give to it and then recovering from it.
Old Favorites in a Different Mood
Bringing Up Baby (Sunday, 6/27, 8 AM ET) — Is there yet someone out there who hasn’t seen this pinnacle of screwball comedy? Katharine Hepburn plays to her lighter side, as she pursues both an escaped leopard (named “Baby”) and Cary Grant as a daffy scientist. (Yeah, that part doesn’t matter so much.)
Sunday in New York (Sunday, 6/27, 6 PM ET) — I have no idea why this lovely little period piece isn’t available on DVD. (I finally ended up making my own from TCM’s last showing.) The period is 1963. Jane Fonda is the lovely, well-dressed young woman whose fiance, a big man around town (Robert Culp), dumps her because she won’t put out, even though they’re engaged. She comes to New York to visit her pilot brother (Cliff Robertson) and gain some experienced. Although he’s been fooling around with his honeys, he’s against the plan. And then Fonda bumps into Rod Taylor. Mistaken identities and cute meets abound, as well as lots of faux-sophisticate never-ending dialogue about who should or shouldn’t sleep with whom. It’s a fun, pretty choice for a Sunday afternoon.
The Great Race (Monday, 6/28, 8 PM ET) — Blake Edwards directs an excessively long romp featuring Tony Curtis as a Hero, Jack Lemmon as a Villain, Natalie Wood as the Girl, and a cross-country race in period dress. Must be seen to be believed. Looking at this — which only turns out good, not great — and then figuring the cost, you understand the last great days of the big studios and what brought them down. But this is the kind of thing they thought they had to do to compete with the encroaching idea of television.
I did love it as a kid, though.
Tuesday Goes Wacky
Theodora Goes Wild (Tuesday, 6/29, 10 AM ET) — Funny as Bringing Up Baby is, I like this movie better. Irene Dunne writes scandalous novels (back when there could be such a thing) while living a life of quiet propriety in a small town. When she sneaks off to the big city to meet with her publisher, Melvyn Douglas decides to tease her into lightening up and follows her home. By the second half, the tables are turned, as she learns *his* secret and decides to give him a taste of his own medicine. I find it fascinating, in large part because of the cultural restrictions it illustrates in terms of social pressure and behavior expectations.
Too Many Husbands (Tuesday, 6/29, Noon ET) — Melvyn Douglas again, this time as one of Jean Arthur’s husbands. Fred MacMurray is the other. He’d been lost at sea and declared dead, so Melvyn talked Jean into marrying him. Then Fred comes back… and Jean thinks she’s got the best of both worlds. It’s kind of surprising in that it sets her up to make the choice, and she thinks both together are better than either alone.
I’m excited to see that one of the spotlights for July will be Teen Movies. Every Thursday has a new grouping, from “Teens in Love” to “At the Beach” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll”. There’s even an 80s Night! Robert Osborne tells you more in this video clip.
Thursday (what, it’s July already?!?) starts off with 1950s “Juvenile Delinquents”. The exception that night to that decade, Hot Rods to Hell, came out in 1967, which gives it a weird “out of time” feel. It’s also the one that’s not sympathetic to its teen characters, instead taking the nuclear family father’s side in protecting his brood. Otherwise, you can see a bunch of classic explorations of adolescent angst, from Rebel Without a Cause to Blackboard Jungle, capping off the evening with The Wild One.