Tuesday, October 8, 2013

TCM Tuesday #1

TCM Tuesday is a new (weekly?) feature where I'll take a look at the upcoming week's schedule on Turner Classic Movies—the best and greatest of all television channels—and pick some stuff for you to watch or save to your DVR. All times are EST, check your local listings.

TCM Tuesday for 10/08/13-10/14/13
(Full Schedule)

Pick of the Week:

His Kind of Woman
US, 1951
Directed by John Farrow (and Richard Fleischer)

Airs Thursday, Oct. 10th at 9:45 PM

TCM's Star of the Month is Vincent Price—who happens to be one of my all-time favorite actors—and every Thursday, the network is airing all sorts of Price movies in prime time. But His Kind of Woman can't really be called a Vincent Price film, so much as a Robert Mitchum/Jane Russell noir that Vincent Price steals right out from under them. Mitchum is one of Hollywood's top tough guys, and here he plays Dan Milner, a hard-luck gambler who takes a huge payment (and a free stay at a Mexican resort) in exchange for an unspecified job. Of course, it turns out that he's in over his head, having inadvertently teamed with notorious criminal Nick Ferraro (Raymond Burr) in his attempts to illegally enter the US. En route, Milner hits it off with the sultry singer Lenore Brent (Russell), the mistress of a hammy actor named Mark Cardigan (Vincent Price) who is also staying at the resort. Milner's not really a bad guy, so he strikes up a friendship with Cardigan and even helps some other people out. But between a tip-off from an undercover fed (Tim Holt) and the shady doings around the resort, Milner begins to think he's in more trouble than he can handle, and tries to figure out what he's in for before it's too late.

Frank Fenton and Jack Leonard's script mixes the light and the dark, with Price's character largely providing the leavening as Mitchum broods and fights. Of course, it's hard to tell what was in the original script and what came from the rewrites famously demanded by producer Howard Hughes (who also replaced Farrow with Richard Fleischer for a number of added scenes and reshoots). Still, despite all of the off-screen trouble, His Kind of Woman is one of the most entertaining and compulsively-watchable noirs ever made. The reliably rugged Mitchum has great chemistry with Russell, who fits perfectly in the role of a troubled femme fatale. While detractors may say it may sacrifices the melodramatic depth and serious commentary of many noirs in favor of simple fisticuffs and crowd-pleasing laughs, His Kind of Woman is good enough to have been my pick of the week as soon as I saw it on the schedule. Don't miss it.

If that's not enough for you, check out some daily highlights from this week's schedule after the jump:

Daily Highlights:

Tuesday, Oct. 8th: Tonight, catch a rerun of the ongoing series The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2012), Mark Cousins's brilliant, wide-ranging look at the history of global cinema. Part six re-airs at 1:45 AM, though the whole 15-part series can be streamed on Netflix, should you so desire. Tonight also brings two classic Nicholas Ray movies covered in this week's episode—James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) at 8:00 PM and the colorful, atypical Western Johnny Guitar (1954), with Sterling Hayden and Joan Crawford, at 11:45 PM.

Wednesday, Oct. 9th: Tonight in prime time, you can see a couple of great spoofs. Woody Allen's Russian novel–inspired Love and Death (1975) airs at 8:00, and at 1:00 AM, you can turn it up to 11 to watch This Is Spinal Tap (1984), Rob Reiner's mostly-improvised satire of rock and roll culture.

Thursday, Oct. 10th: If you don't think His Kind of Woman gives you enough Vincent Price for your money, why not try the early Sam Fuller picture, The Baron of Arizona (1950), tonight at 8:00? It's based on the true story of a southwestern swindler (Price) who attempts to claim all of Arizona via forged Spanish land contracts. Otherwise, the pickings are a bit slim and there's not much else I know well enough to recommend to you.

Friday, Oct. 11th: October is one of my favorite months on TCM, because that's when they break out their classic horror movies. This year, Friday nights seem to be the primary locus for these titles, and this Friday is no exception. Tune in for Hammer Horror's Christopher Lee–starring The Horror of Dracula (1958) at 8:00 PM, followed by one of producer Val Lewton's classic horror stories, Isle of the Dead (1945) at 9:30 PM, and the British anthology chiller Dead of Night (1945) at 11:00 PM. Then, at 1:00 AM, you can watch Robert Wise's original version of The Haunting (1963), especially useful if you were unfortunate enough to watch the abysmal Liam Neeson/Catherine Zeta Jones remake from 1999.

Saturday, Oct. 12th: I'm not too familiar with today's schedule, on the whole, but here are a couple of thoughts: the sci-fi classic It Came From Outer Space (1953) airs at 4:30 PM, and Bogart's final film, the corruption-in-boxing drama The Harder They Fall (1956), is on at 10:30 PM.

Sunday, Oct. 13th: A night of vampire flicks kicks off with F.W. Murnau's silent cinematic ur-text, Nosferatu (1922) at the stroke of midnight, featuring Max Schreck as the terrifying Count Orlock. Following that is Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr (1932) at 2:00 AM, which I've not yet seen but which, as a film snob, I'm contractually obligated to mention. But if bloodsuckers aren't your kind of hunk, watch Steve McQueen in the original version of the iconic heist picture The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) at 8:00 PM instead.

Monday, Oct. 14th: Finally, we round out the week with another edition of The Story of Film: An Odyssey at 10:00 PM, and several of the paradigm-shifting European films discussed in that episode. Particular favorites include Agnès Varda's real-time character study Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961) at 2:15 AM, and François Truffaut's seminal nouvelle vague coming-of-age tale, The 400 Blows (1959) at 3:45 AM. Yes, these are on late. Set your DVR and get on with it.

So that's it for the inaugural edition of TCM Tuesday. I'm not sure if I'll stick with this format or change things up the next time I do one of these. Your feedback, whether in the comments or on Twitter, is always appreciated!

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