It’s comforting that the country’s situation has improved these last few days. Quite when cinemas will re-open is an unknown, of course, and it is alarming to hear that 40% of China’s cinemas might not. So, we’ll continue with our weekly list – and hope that you weren’t put off by some of last week’s unusual suggestions! Incidentally, we don’t know HOW the films will be shown – that is to say, in the correct aspect ratio or not. For example, The Alamo (1960) is likely to be transmitted full frame this weekend, whereas it was filmed in Todd-AO and should be letterboxed.
13 – 19 JUNE 2020
TUNES OF GLORY (1960) Saturday 13 June 11.10am-1.25pm Paramount (Ch 31)
Alec Guinness and John Mills spar superbly as two dyed-in-the-wool army officers (although it was Mills who won Best Actor at Venice). It reminds one a little of Olivier and Michael Caine in Sleuth.
NORTH WEST FRONTIER (1959) Saturday 13 June 6.25-9.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
In 1959, British cinema still had the confidence – and money – to team Kenneth More and Lauren Bacall and film in colour and widescreen. He’s a soldier tasked with protecting a young prince.
COP LAND (1997) Saturday 13 June 11.55pm-2.00am ITV 4 (Channel 24)
With de Niro, Keitel and Ray Liotta also appearing, Sylvester Stallone had to up his game as an out-of-shape New Jersey cop fighting corruption. He succeeded and gave his best performance to date.
DEAD END (1937) Sunday 14 June 12.15-2.05pm Channel 54
This is classic, golden age WB: Joel McCrea sets the good example, Humphrey Bogart the bad, to the kids trapped in tenement hell. Both the sets and the direction by William Wyler are superb.
THE BIG COUNTRY (1958) Sunday 14 June 1.40-4.25pm BBC 2
This saga of two feuding ranchers is as much a majestic soap opera (somewhere between Giant and the TV series Dallas) as a western. Wyler (next up: Ben-Hur) had a great cast to work with (Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker and Heston) and Jerome Moross composed a truly memorable score.
SUDDEN FEAR (1952) Sunday 14 June 6.00-8.10pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Playwright Joan Crawford is in quite a fix – her husband is planning to kill her. Well, if you marry Jack Palance . . . .
TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (2014) Monday 15 June 12.35am-2.05am BBC 2
This well-made French drama from the Dardenne brothers stars Marion Cotillard as a factory worker fighting to save her job with little support from her colleagues.
ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (1947) Monday 15 June 1.45-4.00pm Paramount (Channel 31)
By 1946, John Wayne had enough clout at Republic to become a producer and this is an unusual, noble first effort. He’s the badman and Gail Russell the Quaker who reforms him.
A KIND OF LOVING (1962) Monday 15 June 11.00pm-1.15am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
An essential, quite brilliant, kitchen-sink drama with Alan Bates and June Ritchie portraying the young couple whose ‘mistake’ forces them to marry. Thora Hird is equally memorable as the mother.
THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN’S CREEK (1943) Tuesday 16 June 12.40-2.45pm Film Four
This priceless comedy is one of the best of the 1940s. Pregnant Betty Hutton tries to figure out which GI is the father; the real miracle is how Preston Sturges circumvented the censors!
THE KILLING (1956) Tuesday 16 June 2.45-4.25pm Film Four
For most people, Kubrick means Dr Strangelove and The Shining, but it is this film that announced a striking new talent. The planning of a racetrack robbery is meticulous – what can possible go wrong?
A FAREWELL TO ARMS (1932) Wednesday 17 June 7.10-9.00am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This version of the Hemingway classic is a little creaky in places, but Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes are very moving, the cinematography is excellent and there’s an outstanding montage sequence.
THE STARS LOOK DOWN (1939) Wednesday 17 June 3.00-5.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Still one of the best British films – Michael Redgrave is the miner looking to get on; Margaret Lockwood the woman he marries. It is rich in detail, evocative and deeply satisfying.
THE FALLEN IDOL (1948) Thursday 18 June 2.45-5.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Carol Reed directs again (see previous entry) and Graham Greene contributes to the script, from his original story. A young boy idolises a servant suspected of murder.
THE WINSLOW BOY (1948) Thursday 18 June 5.30-8.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
The late 1940s was an excellent time for British cinema. Here, an immaculate Robert Donat is the barrister who defends a naval cadet charged with theft.
ST. VINCENT (2014) Thursday 18 June 11.45pm-1.50am Film Four
Bill Murray is on fine comedic form as the rude, cantankerous neighbour of single mum Melissa McCarthy and her son. Incidentally, the film clip on his TV is from Abbott & Costello’s Africa Screams.
THE TIN STAR (1957) Friday 19 June 2.50-4.40pm Film Four
This Anthony Mann western gets better with each viewing. Bounty hunter Henry Fonda reluctantly helps inexperienced young sheriff Anthony Perkins. It is up there with the best of the genre.
NIGHT MAIL (1936) Friday 19 June 4.35-5.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Showing here is the legendary documentary short about the Euston to Glasgow Travelling Post Office, set to Britten’s music and the verse of W H Auden.
THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951) Friday 19 June 5.00-7.10pm Channel 40
This is still as good as prime Hollywood films get. Oscar-winner Humphrey Bogart’s old soak takes missionary Katharine Hepburn down river to take on a German gunboat.
SELMA (2014) Friday 19 June 11.20pm-1.20am
This is a timely showing for a very good recreation of the 1965 marches to advance civil rights. If Martin Luther King’s speeches are not entirely as you remember them, some changes were necessary for reasons of copyright.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES FROM WEEK 9
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE . . . .
I hope that someone out there enjoyed the majestic Alpine scenery in The Trollenberg Terror (well, okay, it was studio sets and library footage in this instance). Films set in such locations have long been popular, if not prolific. Broadly speaking, they fall into two categories: where the environment is an integral part of the drama, and where the scenery is more of an exploitative backdrop. Almost 100 years ago, in 1924, the famous cycle of German “mountain films” was under way with Mountains of Destiny, soon to be followed by The Holy Mountain (1926) and the stunning The White Hell of Pitz Palü (1929). Leni Riefenstahl, who had appeared in it, went on to make The Blue Light in 1932 and it was this film that brought her to the attention of Adolf Hitler. (She had a photo of herself, from this film, hanging on her bedroom wall until she died.) Fast forward to 2014 and Force Majeure was garnering an equivalent amount of critical praise. In between, Robert Newton searched for Nazi gold in Snowbound (1948), Glenn Ford climbed The White Tower (1950) and Spencer Tracy The Mountain (1956), and Clint Eastwood made The Eiger Sanction (1975). In the exploitative corner, we have The Snow Creature (1956) in which the Yeti is stuck in customs (an early form of quarantine to safeguard one’s borders, I suppose), Hammer’s The Abominable Snowman (1957, ‘set’ in the Himalayas, with Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker) and Roger Corman’s Ski Troop Attack (1960). The TVM Snowbeast (1977) had Clint Walker, but little else of interest; whereas A Cold Night’s Death (1973) was rather good. However, since it is set in an Arctic research station, I cannot really make a case for it here!
This week’s collection is a little different. I have not selected one or two user friendly titles such as Groundhog Day even though it did very well for us (1993-94 season, 80%). Although Shane had to be there (“mother wants you . . . Shane, come back” – ultimately, this was why he couldn’t stay, of course. Such viewing pleasure over the years!) Anyway, it’s perhaps best to think of this week’s list as having been curated by Quentin Tarantino after a Q & A at Cannes. But, even if some of the titles are not normally your cup of tea they do have a lot to commend them. You can always tell me off when we meet again (especially for From Dusk to Dawn). Stay well and healthy.
6 – 12 JUNE 2020
WALK A TIGHTROPE (1964) Saturday 6 June 8.25-10.00am Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
Here is a long-forgotten British crime drama with American Dan Duryea (he of the nasal whine) as an unstable gun-for-hire who is asked to kill a husband.
THE LONGEST DAY (1962) Saturday 6 June 2.00-5.45pm Film Four
It had to be on today, of course. It remains a brilliant reconstruction of the D-Day landings – more so if you have visited the key sites – with an international cast of some 50 stars.
THE TROLLENBERG TERROR (1958) Sunday 7 June 8.20pm-10.00am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Ah, the days when a piece of cotton wool was a special effect! Like Quatermass, this was a BBC/low budget crossover with an American import (here it’s Forrest Tucker) fighting an alien presence.
THE TALL T (1957) Sunday 7 June 5.20pm-7.05pm Channel 40
This week, by coincidence, we can catch the BEST Randolph-Budd Boetticher western! It is literate, beautifully framed, wastes not a second and Richard Boone makes a fantastic heavy.
FROM DUSK TO DAWN (1995) Sunday 7 June 11.20pm-1.20am & Weds 10.50 Paramount (Ch 31)
Okay, this is a comedy/horror/heist hybrid in which two vicious robbers take a family hostage and head for Mexico – but the hideout is full of vampires. It’s off the wall, outrageous and very violent!
49th PARALLEL (1941) Monday 8 June 4.35-7.10pm Film Four
This fine Powell-Pressburger wartime drama concerns a U-Boat crew trying to escape across the Canadian wilderness. Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier and Eric Portman head the cast.
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) Monday 8 June 11.20pm-1.25am Paramount (Ch 31)
Futuristic drama (set in 1997!) in which one-eyed convict Kurt Russell agrees to rescue the US president, whose plane has crashed in the prison of Manhattan. Would he do it in 2020?
THE SOUTHERNER (1945) Tuesday 9 June 6.00-8.00am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Rare top billing for Zachary Scott and he is superb, as the cotton farmer struggling to support his family. Jean Renoir directs his only American film and it is a quiet masterpiece.
VERA CRUZ (1954) Tuesday 9 June 2.00-4.00pm Paramount (Channel 31)
There is much interest in the coach full of gold heading for Mexico in this entertaining adventure. Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster (both so true to their iconic images here) head a great cast of character actors and future stars.
SHANE (1953) Wednesday 10 June 3.25-5.55pm Film Four
Justifiably a cinema legend (and my no. 3 western): Alan Ladd’s finest hour, a great Victor Young score – and colour – and meticulously directed by George Stevens. The novel is a classic, too.
THE SQUARE (2017) Wednesday 10 June 9.00pm-12.05am Film Four
A true ‘Marmite’ film that was too long – and too risky, we felt – to programme. It is a satirical drama, set mostly in a Stockholm art museum that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.
THE GIRL WITH A PISTOL (1968) Thursday 11 June 8.00-10.00pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
A very rare showing on British TV for an Oscar-nominated comedy that isn’t included in most guides. Angry Monica Vitti comes here looking for her seducer and encounters some typical British males.
SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (1964) Thursday 11 June 11.45pm-2.00am Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
Bryan Forbes directs Richard Attenborough and Kim Stanley (Oscar nominated) in the gripping, unusual tale of a celebrity-seeking medium who involves her timid husband in a kidnapping.
WARLOCK (1959) Friday 12 June 12.55-3.20pm Film Four
Character-driven psychological western in which Henry Fonda is asked to clean up the town. Richard Widmark, Anthony Quinn and Dorothy Malone also do great work. As critic Leonard Maltin says “forgotten, but worthy of rediscovery.”
THE BESPOKE OVERCOAT (1955) Friday 12 June 2.30-3.15pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Shorts are often overlooked – and this is a really good one, with Alfie Bass and David Kossoff, that won many awards. Jack Clayton went on to direct the classic thriller The Innocents (1961).
THE L-SHAPED ROOM (1962) Friday 12 June 10.00pm-12.30am Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
Excellent work again by Bryan Forbes, this time with Leslie Caron. She is excellent as Jane, an unmarried, pregnant young woman who comes to London to hide her shame in a tenement bedsit.
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES FROM WEEK 8
IT’S ALL IN A NAME!
Literally thousands of actors have changed their names completely: Bernard Schwartz became Tony Curtis and Lucille Le Sueur became Joan Crawford; some just shorten them (Thomas Cruise Mapother IV); others took an extra name to consolidate both their images and audience expectations (George ‘Gabby’ Hayes and Al ‘Fuzzy’ St John). What are much rarer, are instances where an actor’s name is misspelt on screen. I was reminded of this watching Man on the Run last Saturday (and I was so pleased I did – it was very good). Kenneth More had a small role in this 1949 drama – and his name was spelt Moore in the opening credits and More in the closing ones! Claude Akins was billed as Akin in The Sea Chase (1955) and, stretching my memory to breaking point, Chief Yowlachie’s name was spelt Yolatchie in the end credits of ‘War Horse’ (an early episode of The Lone Ranger TV series, not the Steven Spielberg film). A mistake in the title of a film is almost unheard of, although when Gail Television bought the rights to the 1931 Buck Jones western Range Feud and changed the graphics, it came out Fued!
“Robin Hood, Robin Hood, is riding through the glen” . . . . Coming soon to a TV set near you: if you have an interest in the early years of television, as I do, Talking Pictures will be showing The Adventures of Robin Hood; of William Tell; Sir Lancelot; and Sir Francis Drake in their teatime (5.30pm) slot!
30 MAY – 5 JUNE 2020
MAN ON THE RUN (1949) Saturday 30 May 5.30-7.15pm Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
We have a tense, neatly packaged, British noir with Derek Farr playing an army deserter accused of murder and trying to clear himself. Later, Mr Farr guest starred in episode 1 of The Saint TV series.
ELLA FITZGERALD: JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS Saturday 30 May 9.30-11.00pm BBC 2
This DOCUMENTARY OF THE WEEK follows her career from its 1934 beginnings through to her peak years with clips, songs and interviews.
MAN OF THE WEST (1958) Saturday 30 May 11.20pm-1.30am Paramount (Channel 31)
In his last role of note, Gary Cooper plays a reformed outlaw who has to confront his ex-mentor, the evil Doc Tobin (Lee J. Cobb). The psychological motivations are deeper and the characters tougher.
WITHNAIL AND I (1986) Sunday 30 May 12.15am-2.05am Channel 4
Hippies Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann visit their outrageous uncle Monty (Richard Griffiths). We showed this black comedy in our first season (1988-89, 71%). Obsessive cleaners avert your eyes!
THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962) Sunday 31 May 6.20-9.00pm Channel 31
John Ford’s final masterpiece stars John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles and Lee Marvin. Back in Shinbone for a funeral, senator Ransom Stoddard reflects on the town’s wild, pioneering days.
THE MAN WHO HAUNTED HIMSELF (1970) Sunday 31 May 10.00-11.50pm Channel 81
Roger Moore made two films between The Saint and The Persuaders and he remained very proud of his work here. After a car accident, a businessman wonders – is he mad, or has he a double?
ANGEL FACE (1952) Monday 1 June 7.50-9.35am Channel 40
Sweet-faced Jean Simmons is planning to kill her father and stepmother; will chauffeur Robert Mitchum escape her clutches? A well-made drama and its reputation is still growing.
HELL BELOW ZERO (1954) Monday 1 June 11.00am-12.50pm Film Four
Helpful Alan Ladd takes to the sea, to uncover why Joan Tetzel’s father was murdered. This was the sort of early fare upon which Bond producer Cubby Broccoli cut his teeth.
THE SOUND OF FURY (1950) Tuesday 2 June 11.00am-12.50pm Film Four
I started the listings for such as this – a small, independent, b/w film about a father who is suckered in to criminal ways. It’s scintillating stuff and the director, Cy Endfield, later made Zulu.
CALL ME MADAM (1953) Tuesday 2 June 2.40-4.30pm BBC 2
Ethel Merman sings hits from her hugely successful Broadway show and Donald O’Connor and Vera-Ellen dance up the sort of storm that few others could manage!
ALONE IN BERLIN (2016) Tuesday 2 June 11.15pm-1.20am Film Four
Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson are grieving parents who distribute anti-Nazi propaganda. We didn’t quite use it (German films have covered similar ground better), but take a look!
CARMEN JONES (1954) Wednesday 3 June 2.50-4.30pm BBC 2
An excellent, all-black cast transfers Bizet’s opera (and the stage show) to the silver screen in exhilarating fashion. Dorothy Dandridge’s Oscar nomination was ground breaking.
ENOUGH SAID (2013) Wednesday 3 June 7.10-9.00pm Film Four
The late James Gandolfini plays an overweight Mr Average, who meets a divorced masseuse at a party. It’s a modest charmer that reminds one of the 1955 classic Marty.
I WALK ALONE (1947) Wednesday 3 June 10.05pm-12.05am Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
Two ex-bootleggers fight over their spoils. This first teaming of Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas is relatively rare. (I have seen about 50 films of each, but not this one, so my seat is booked!)
SAPPHIRE (1959) Thursday 4 June 9.25-11.10pm Talking Pictures (Channel 81)
This very watchable detective drama, with a social conscience, was a Bafta winner; Nigel Patrick and Michael Craig try to solve the puzzle of a young model’s murder.
THE NAKED JUNGLE (1954) Friday 5 June 4.55-6.50pm Film Four
The producer-director team of The War of the Worlds re-united for this adventure in which Charlton Heston battles an army of soldier ants.
HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM (1959) Friday 5 June 10.00-11.40 Talking Pictures (Ch 81)
Here we have a luridly colourful cult shocker – infamous in its day – in which a novelist kills to boost readership interest. Arthur Crabtree also directed Fiend Without a Face – enough said!
RANDOM WORDS AND RANDOM MEMORIES
FROM WEEK 7
Prison break dramas have always been popular. I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932) remains one of the great Warner Brothers films; King of Alcatraz (1938) was a lightning fast B film and Clint Eastwood was trying to escape from the same institution 30 years later. White Heat (1949) had James Cagney at the top of his game and Burt Lancaster’s Brute Force (1947) was almost as good. Whilst it is very good, with two fine actors, it has always staggered me that The Shawshank Redemption often makes the ‘best ever’ lists; it strikes me that it was a film promoted by social media before social media was invented. I shall watch it again though! Breaking back in again is rarer, but the plot device was used in Cahill United States Marshal (1973) and the pilot for the TV series Alias Smith and Jones - and at least one further episode!
Site Design by John Marriage
Copyright © 2017-20