February Movies to Watch For

sched02-350pxHere are some films on Fox Movie Channel, Sundance and TCM for the month of February, 2013 that you might be interested in. Remember, these movies may be edited, time compressed, in the wrong aspect ratio, have commercial interruptions, or be pre-empted for a marathon of Tony Danza shows, the bad ones that only ran for half a season, not the good stuff like “Taxi.” You know how it goes.

All times Eastern.

FOX MOVIE CHANNEL

At of the beginning of the year our cable package finally included FMC. Now that I’ve had a chance to see the channel, I can tell you that the evening movies are often edited and have lots of those advertising tags in the bottom right corner. For the most part, it appears the movies I’ll be featuring are on earlier in the day, when the channel uses less or no tags and probably doesn’t edit. However, be warned that movie channels, even our beloved TCM, can show really horrible prints or edits of films.

 

On the Avenue (1937)
February 2, 8:00 AM
Roy Del Ruth and Irving Berlin musical about a New York socialite satirized in a Broadway show. With Alice Faye, Dick Powell, Sig Ruman and Alan Mowbray.

 

The Story on Page One (1959)
February 4, 9:50 AM
Rita Hayworth and Gig Young as lovers involved in a murder, who hire fiery lawyer Tony Franciosa to defend them; written by Clifford Odets. This is a surprisingly good and little-known film that I was lucky enough to catch nearly 20 years ago, but I haven’t seen it since as it hasn’t been released in the US on any format (and the region 2 Spanish release has hard-coded Spanish subtitles and a poor, fuzzy image). If you get a chance to record this, you should. Hopefully it will be in the proper aspect ratio, but I suspect no matter how FMC shows it, it will be the best print you can find.

 

Mr. Billion (1977)
February 5, 8:38 AM
Jonathan Kaplan comedy about a mechanic (Terrence Hill) who has to get to the reading of a will in time to collect his huge inheritance that the executor (Jackie Gleason) wants for himself. With Chill Wills, Slim Pickens and Valerie Perrine. This gets poor ratings online, but appears to be pretty rare.

 

sched04Moontide (1942)
February 9, 6:00 AM
Jean Gabin as a dock worker who blacks out from drink and awakens to find he may have committed murder. Directed by Warner Bros. stalwart Archie Mayo, with Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains, Jerome Cowan and Fritz Lang co-starring.

 

Take a Hard Ride (1975)
February 16, 8:00 AM (also 3:30 AM later that day)
A man carrying a large amount of money is tracked by several men in this very 1970s Western. I watched this on Encore back in the day, after being bombarded with a million showings of the trailer, and found it to be pretty enjoyable and with a great cast: Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, Lee Van Cleef, Catherine Spaak, Jim Kelly and Jerry Goldsmith.

 

SUNDANCE

Away From Her (2006)
February 5, 8:00 PM (also Feb 17th)
An aging couple deal with Alzheimer disease. With Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent.

 

Me and Orson Welles (2008)
February 18, midnight
A teenager is cast in the 1937 production of Julius Caesar, produced for the stage by Orson Welles. Film directed by Richard Linklater.

 

TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES

It’s TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar, which means there are a lot of films this month that we’ve all seen a million times or more. So take the month off, get some rest, spend time with family. I may even venture outdoors if I’m feeling saucy.

 

Tales From the Warner Bros. Lot (2013)
February 2, 7:00 PM
New hour-long documentary on the history of Warner Bros. Studios. A brief look from the premier on Jan. 30th can be found here. It’s listed as Warner Bros. 90th Anniversary: Tales from the Lot on some parts of the TCM website, and shows multiple times during the month.

 

sched03-350pxImitation of Life (1934)
February 6, 10:30 PM
Claudette Colbert as a widow and Louise Beavers as a single mother who successfully go into business together and weather class and racial differences, as well as difficulties with their daughters. An excellent movie if dated, though maybe not that dated, considering the ignorant and revolting comments on the IMDb message boards about this film.

 

February 7: TCM has a terrific line-up of non-U.S. films during the day:
7:45 AM Wild Strawberries (1957) (Bergman)
9:30 AM The Virgin Spring (1960) (Bergman)
11:30 AM My Life As A Dog (1987) (Hallstrom)
1:30 PM Riso Amaro (1949) (De Santis)
3:30 PM Big Deal On Madonna Street (1958) (Monicelli)
5:30 PM I Compagni (1963) (Monicelli)

 

February 19: The silents and early talkies tonight are all highly recommended, especially The Racket, which is not available in a good print on DVD. The TCM print is the best you’ll get, and it’s gorgeous.

8:00 PM The Racket (1928)
9:30 PM Wings (1927)
12:00 AM The Love Parade (1929)
2:00 AM The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)
4:00 AM A Farewell To Arms (1932)

 

what-the-shit-is-this-300All-American Co-Ed (1941)
February 25, 5:00 AM
This is a bit of a cheat because All-American Co-Ed won the coveted What The Shit Is This? award before, but this month tends to be a nice, inoffensive month for films, so the pickin’s were kind of slim. There isn’t much of a plot to this little bit of what-the-fuckery, it’s just an excuse to be homophobic, sexist and racist. People tend to watch it nowadays because it is so unbelievable, kind of like Golden Dawn except more people unabashedly like the various bigotries in this film. That’s the power of humor when used for evil, folks. Slap a “But it was just a joke” excuse on anything and some people will eat that shit up. Anyway, this is a terrible movie, definitely not like Artists and Models (1937) or Bordertown (1935) where there is a good movie marred by some outdated social beliefs. It’s just bad all around, with poor production and dull acting. So enjoy.sched01

 

A late night mini marathon of Preston Sturges films on February 22:
12:30 AM The Lady Eve (1941)
2:15 AM Hail The Conquering Hero (1944)
4:15 AM The Great McGinty (1940)

 

The Harder They Fall (1956)
February 23, 10:00 PM
A hard-boiled reporter digs deep to expose corruption in boxing. With Humphrey Bogart and Rod Steiger.

 

Saraband For Dead Lovers (1948)
February 28, 6:00 AM
A Basil Dearden film, also known as Saraband. Starring one of my best pretend girlfriends, Joan Greenwood, with one of my best pretend boyfriends, Stewart Granger, I haven’t seen this film but already declare it to be the best film ever made in the history of humankind. It appears to be rarely shown, so now is a good chance to grab a copy.

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If you have any films coming up in February you want to mention, please feel free!

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12 Comments

  1. I always look forward to these “movies to watch for” posts. I’m usually pretty up-to-date with TCM’s offerings, but I always seem to forget things like the Fox Movie Channel. Based on your recommendations, I’ve set up a couple of things to record.

    In the DirecTV database, each film usually has a composite critic’s score based on 5 stars (composite, or is it just Leonard Maltin?), and what I assume is the Flixster “people’s choice” popcorn award based on a percentage up to 100%. The Story on Page One, for example gets 4 out of 5 stars, but only a 43% from the unwashed masses. Surely symptomatic of most people’s tendency to equate old with bad. It’s kind of amusing and a little sad.

    • Our cable package did away with most of the ratings a while ago, though I notice on TCM we still get ratings in the cable guide. I assume TCM provides them. Sometimes the ratings on the old cable listings would be hilarious; I think Sh! The Octopus had something like 4 1/2 stars, it was outrageous and clearly wrong.

      Story on Page One was surprisingly good when I last saw it. It was repeated several times so I saw it more than once, but it’s been a long time, and I wonder what I’ll think of it now.

  2. Wild Strawberries and The Virgin Spring is a nice doubleheader. But if I programmed TCM, you’d have The Virgin Spring and then American film it inspired, The Last House on the Left (original version), as your doubleheader.

    Now you know why I don’t program TCM.

    • I was pleasantly surprised by Last House on the Left. If it ever shows up on TCM, it’ll be on Underground, and even then probably in a bad print. This month wouldn’t have LTotL anyway because it’s not an Oscar nominee. And I get why the Oscars are a big deal on TCM, but the channel shows Oscar nominees constantly, so this month seems like a waste of time.

  3. Until I went to the TCM site, I had no idea that Smokey and the Bandit was nominated for editing in 1977.

    Ice Station Zebra is one I always enjoy.

    • Hi John! Some of the nuttiest stuff gets nominated — the 1930 semi-atrocity Just Imagine was nominated!

      I do like Ice Station Zebra. When I first started watching older films in the early 1990s, lots of people would joke about it and how allegedly bad it was. By the time I saw it, I realized it was a LOT better than people gave it credit for.

  4. In re Mr. Billion:

    If you get the chance, go to Trailers From Hell, a website of great moral uplift and spiritual value, and look up the trailer for this film, as introduced by director Jonathan Kaplan.
    Because it’s a very short “teaser trailer” , Kaplan does quite a bit more talking than is the custom on TFH. This is a good thing because what Kaplan mainly talks about is working with Jackie Gleason; his quote to Kaplan on his first day of shooting belongs in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.
    Kaplan himself is himself an engaging storyteller (Fun Fact: he’s the son of Frances Heflin, who played Susan Lucci’s mother on All My Children for years

  5. Hello again …

    Your oedipusrexing mechanism cut me of in mid-comment, which I now propose to finish.

    Anyhow, Jonathan Kaplan is Frances Heflin’s son and also Van Heflin’s nephew.
    So there.

    And Trailers From Hell (if you don’t already know) is the most fun place to spend a lunch hour that I can think of.

    Noe here’s hoping this gets through …

    • I think I follow (or followed?) Kaplan on twitter for a while. Had no idea he was Van Heflin’s nephew! I’ll be checking out that trailer and hopefully getting a copy of Mr Billion from another source, since I just realized I forgot to put on my little reminder list. It started an hour ago. D’oh.

  6. While you’re at Trailers From Hell, you can also see Jonathan Kaplan talking about the trailer for The Prowler, starring his Uncle Van. Nice personal anecdote at the tail end.

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