Sunday, June 8, highlights on Turner Classic Movies:
Some consider Stagecoach, a rip-off of Guy de Maupassant’s “Boule de suif,” John Ford’s best film. Personally, despite a few good performances, I find this psychological Western perfectly watchable but, considering its reputation, somewhat of a letdown. (I much prefer Christian-Jaque’s Boule de suif (1945), with Micheline Presle as the prostitute with a heart of gold. Claire Trevor, one of the best and most underrated actresses of the studio era, plays the self-sacrificing sex worker in Ford’s version.)
Summer and Smoke offers an overripe Geraldine Page (right) and an excellent supporting turn by Una Merkel cast totally against type, while Cyrano de Bergerac is a highly theatrical period piece that won Jose Ferrer an undeserved best actor Oscar. (If it’s the usual print shown on TCM, it’s in dire need of restoration work.)
Ivanhoe, on the other hand, is a delight. The cast – Robert Taylor, Joan Fontaine, Finlay Currie, George Sanders – is flawless, Richard Thorpe’s direction is right on target, and Freddie Young’s color cinematography is first-rate. The follow-up Thorpe-Taylor collaboration, Knights of the Round Table, isn’t as good, but it’s definitely worth a look. (The recently deceased Mel Ferrer plays Arthur; Ava Gardner is Guinevere; Taylor is Lancelot.)
Yonggang Wu’s 1934 melodrama The Goddess shouldn’t be missed, while Masaki Kobayashi’s Kwaidan (top photo), a best foreign-language film Oscar nominee in 1965, presents four supernatural stories.
Schedule (Pacific Time) and synopses from the TCM website:
1:40am [Short Film] Paris On Parade (1938)
1:58am [Short Film] American And British War Heroes To Visit La. (1946)
2:00am [Musical] Flying With Music (1942)
A man on the run from alimony payments gets a job as a South American tour guide.
Cast: Marjorie Woodworth, George Givot, William Marshall. Dir.: George Archainbaud. Black and white. 46 min.
3:00am [Western] Stagecoach (1939)
A group of disparate passengers battle personal demons and each other while racing through Indian country.
Cast: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, George Bancroft. Dir.: John Ford. Black and white. 96 min.
4:37am [Short Film] Roaring Guns (1944)
5:00am Asphalt Jungle, The (1950)
A gang of small time crooks plots an elaborate jewel heist.
Cast: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Marilyn Monroe. Dir.: John Huston. Black and white. 112 min.
7:00am Summer And Smoke (1961)
A small-town spinster’s repressed love for the local rebel spells danger.
Cast: Geraldine Page, Laurence Harvey, Una Merkel. Dir.: Peter Glenville. Color. 118 min.
9:00am [Musical] Tom Sawyer (1973)
The classic American bad boy sails the Mississippi with his friend Huck Finn after their supposed deaths.
Cast: Johnny Whitaker, Celeste Holm, Jodie Foster. Dir.: Don Taylor. Color. 99 mins. Letterbox.
11:00am Cyrano De Bergerac (1950)
A swordsman and poet helps another man woo the woman he loves.
Cast: Jose Ferrer, Mala Powers, William Prince. Dir.: Michael Gordon. Black and white. 113 min.
1:00pm Ivanhoe (1952)
Sir Walter Scott’s classic tale of the noble knight torn between his fair lady and a beautiful Jew.
Cast: Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine. Dir.: Richard Thorpe. Color. 107 min.
3:00pm [Romance] Knights Of The Round Table (1953)
Queen Guinevere is torn between love for her husband and Sir Lancelot.
Cast: Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer. Dir.: Richard Thorpe. Color. 116 mins. Letterbox.
5:00pm [Horror/Science-Fiction] 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957)
A crashed spaceship unleashes a rapidly growing monster from Venus.
Cast: William Hopper, Joan Taylor, Frank Puglia. Dir.: Nathan Juran. Black and white. 83 mins. Letterbox.
6:30pm [Horror/Science-Fiction] First Men in the Moon (1964)
A scientist’s experimental space craft puts him in the path of an intergalactic invasion.
Cast: Edward Judd, Martha Hyer, Lionel Jeffries. Dir.: Nathan Juran. Color. 103 mins. Letterbox.
8:17pm [Short Film] MGM 40th Anniversary (1964)
Leo the lion and MGM turn 40 years old.
9:00pm Goddess, The (1934)
A woman turns to prostitution to support her son.
Cast: Lingyu Ruan, Tian Jian, Li Keng. Dir.: Yonggang Wu. Black and white. 73 min.
10:19pm [Short Film] No Contest (1934)
11:00pm [Horror/Science-Fiction] Kwaidan (1964)
Four stories mix love and the supernatural in exotic settings.
Cast: Rentaro Mikuni, Michiyo Aratama, Misako Watanabe. Dir.: Masaki Kobayashi. Color. 161 min, TV-14 Letterbox.
1:45am [Suspense/Mystery] Sherlock Holmes in Dressed to Kill (1946)
Sherlock Holmes sets out to find why people are killing each other over a seemingly inexpensive music box.
Cast: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Patricia Morison. Dir.: Roy William Neill. Black and white. 71 min.