This month, the theme according to Turner Classic Movies is ‘Noir Alley’ and in general the tone of the films are indeed darker than normal. For me, this is a major plus, as I love the gritty realism, camera angles and acting in these tales of murder and intrigue. While many of these pictures are not strictly film noir, they do tend to focus on the darker, seedier side of humanity.
By the way, the first film listed is unusual becaue it’s the first time I’ve ever listed a film you should seriously avoid!! The dark, sad elements of the original are all missing in this wrong-headed and boring sequel! Don’t say I didn’t warn you about this one….particularly if you saw Village of the Damned already!
Saturday, April 1 at 4:14pm Children of the Damned (1963). This is rare, but I am listing this as a film NOT to see. While the original Village of the Damned is a frightening and extremely well made movie, this sequel is just awful in every way. In the original, these children were frightening and evil….and in the sequel they inexplicably just want to be left to live in peace!! A truly awful movie!
Sunday, April 2 at 8pm The Manchurian Candidate (1962). One of the best suspense films of the 1960s, Laurence Harvey and Frank Sinatra are excellent in the film but the stand-out for me is Angela Lansbury, who plays a character with less maternal instincts than a hamster! Chilling and exciting.
Monday, April 3 at 9:30pm An American Tragedy (1931). This is an earlier version of the Elizabeth Taylor/Montgomery Clift film A Place in the Sun (which airs 4/28 at 3:30pm). Try seeing both films and decide which version of the Theodore Dreiser novel is the best.
Wednesday, April 5 at 8pm Death of a Scoundrel (1956). George Sanders is delightfully wicked playing lead in this film. The man is cold and handsome…and uses everyone around him. A great portrait of a man who is bound to get his comeuppance sooner or later!
Friday, April 7 at 9am Kings Row (1942). This Warner Brothers film gave Ronald Reagan a chance to do some serious drama and Charles Coburn is the stand-out actor in this tale of two yound men…and a malevolent old doctor who not only heals the sick but plays God as well!
Saturday, April 8 at 2pm Firecreek (1968). Jimmy Stewart plays a sheriff in a tiny, tiny western town. He’s no tough guy but a real pacifist….and he’s in way over his head when a gang of vicious sociopaths head his way. Most interesting is seeing Henry Fonda playing a truly evil and descipable cowboy…shades of his character just a couple years later in Once Upon a Time in the West.
Saturday, April 8 at 8pm The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956). Frederic March plays a very unusual sort of role in this film. He’s a successful New York public relations man whose past catched up to him and threatens to destroy his marriage and happy home. How does this typical sort of guy handle this?
Monday, April 10 at 2:15am Late Spring (1949). Yashujiro Ozu is considered one of the best directors in Japanese film history. And, this is among his very best pictures…and makes a great introduction for someone unfamiliar with his work.
Monday, April 10 at 8pm Tales of Manhattan (1942). This film shows the history of a suit of clothing that is passed down from its original owner to four others. How it influences their lives is told in five fascinating vignettes. The one featuring Edward G. Robinson as a down and out guy who is invited to his class reunion is the most memorable.
Friday, April 14 at 6am Old Acquaintance (1943). This is one of Bette Davis’ best films. It’s the story of two friends (Davis and Miriam Hopkins) and the difficulty one has staying friends because as the years pass, her old friend becomes more and more of a complete jerk! Delicious and featuring one of the best screen slaps in movie history!
Saturday, April 15 at 11:30pm Night of the Lepus (1972). This is a terrible film. But unlike Children of the Damned, I strongly recommend you see it just because it is so gosh-darn ridiculous! Imagine…a town attacked by flesh-eating gigantic bunnies!!! Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh and DeForest Kelley embarrass themselves in this giggle-inducing romp!
Sunday, April 16 at 10am The Set-Up (1949). An aging boxer (Robert Ryan) has been ordered by mobsters to take a dive in his next fight. But the guy has integrity and can’t stand not giving it his all. A brutal and uncompromising look at the seedy side of boxing.
Tuesday, April 18 at 1:15am Dodsworth (1936). This film gets my vote as the most underrated and underappreciated movie of the 1930s. A rich industrialist sells off his company and takes his family to Europe on an extended vacation. However, through the course of the film, the very fabric of the family is torn to pieces instead of bringing them together.
Thursday, April 20 at 1:30am They Won’t Forget (1937). A small town explodes with bigotry and anger when a teacher is accused of killing a girl. A lynch mob mentality erupts and the prosecutor (Claude Rains) deliberately incites it…even though he’s coming to realize that the accused is innocent!
Thursday, April 20 at 5:45pm Dinner at Eight (1933). One of the best ensemble casts MGM ever brought together, this film is filled with marvelously written and acted scenes…particularly the one with Marie Dressler and Jean Harlow at the end of the picture. If you like Grand Hotel, you’ll LOVE Dinner at Eight.
Sunday, April 23 at 8pm The Great Man (1957). This film is very similar to Death of a Scoundrel and I strongly recommend you see both. Jose Ferrer is a writer who has been asked to create a radio show to honor a beloved personality who has just died. America loves the dead man and it looks like creating this tribut should be easy…until it becomes apparent that everyone who really knew the guy had ample reason to hate him!
Monday, April 24 Midnight to 2:15am Dr. Jack (1922) followed by Grandma’s Boy (1922). These are two incredibly sweet comedies featuring Harold Lloyd. Perhaps not his funniest films, they are among the ones with the most heart. Well worth seeing!
Wednesday, April 26 at 7:45pm The Clock (1945). This is among Judy Garland’s best movies….and also amazingly overlooked. She doesn’t sing in this one. Instead, it’s a bitter sweet lightning romance between a young lady and a soldier about to be shipped overseas.
Thursday, April 27 at 6:15am Torrent (1926). This is perhaps Greta Garbo’s best silent film. While I have never been a huge fan of this legendary actress, this one is hard not to love.
Thursday, April 27 at 9:30am The Maltese Falcon (1931). This is NOT the famous 1941 version with Humphrey Bogart but an earlier one with Ricardo Cortez. It is NOT as good as the later film…and proves that sometimes remakes are better…but still a fascinating film.
Friday, April 28 at 2:15am Bells are Ringing (1960). An amazingly good and often overlooked musical. Judy Holliday, finds herself mixed up in the lives of her clients! She and Dean Martin are at their best and the film is a delight.
Sunday, April 30 at 10am He Walked by Night (1948). After killing a cop, a sociopathic burglar spends the rest of the film avoiding capture. Richard Basehart is terrific in this noir classic.