TiVoPlex for Tuesday July 10 2012 through Monday July 16 2012
By John Seal
July 9, 2012
3:00 PM Turner Classic Movies
A Fever in the Blood (1961 USA): Here’s an obscure murder mystery with political overtones that deserves to be much better known. Directed by Vincent Sherman, the film features Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Leland Hoffman, the judge presiding over a murder trial with the potential to either end or accelerate the careers of District Attorney Callahan (Jack Kelly) and Senator Simon (Don Ameche). Also on hand: Angie Dickinson, Ray Danton, Jesse White, Herbert Marshall, and (in his screen debut) Carroll O’Connor. No truth to the rumor that he refers to Zimbalist’s character as ‘meathead’.
6:00 PM Sundance
Desperate Measures (1998 USA): Desperate Measures is not your typical Sundance Channel programming selection, but it’s nice to get an opportunity to see it in its original aspect ratio. Directed by Barbet Schroeder (I guess he was the hook that Sundance couldn’t resist), the film is a crime drama starring Andy Garcia as Frank Conner, a cop whose son is desperately ill and in need of a bone marrow transplant. And who has the perfect DNA match for the job? Why, frothing psychopath Peter McCabe (Michael Keaton), of course! The story is completely ridiculous, but it’s a fun watch nonetheless, and a good supporting cast - including Tracey Walter, Brian Cox, and Marcia Gay Harden - helps.
6:00 PM Showtime
God Bless Ozzy Osbourne (2011 USA-AUS-CHL-NZ-GB-ARG-CAN): It took seven countries to produce this Ozzy Osbourne rockumentary. Seven. What did they do, pass the hat during Ozzy’s latest world tour or something? I have no idea, but if you’re a fan of the barmy Brummie you’ll want to check it out. If you find his act tedious or distasteful (bat munching, anyone?) you can probably give it a miss. Also airs at 9:00 PM.
2:45 AM Turner Classic Movies
Voltaire (1933 USA): You simply cannot go wrong with George Arliss. Despite having a face only a mother could love - and even that’s a bit of a stretch - the brilliant English stage actor brought his talents to Hollywood in the early ‘30s and delivered a series of superb performances that earned him one Academy Award and two additional nominations. In Voltaire, Arliss plays the titular French philosopher, who despite his loyalty to King Louis (Reginald Owen) gets into trouble for his "progressive" ideas. Soon enough, some of the court’s less open-minded members - most notably Count De Sarnac (Alan Mowbray) - are angling to get rid of him by hook or by crook. Will Voltaire’s ideas win the day - or will the entrenched nobility put paid to his crazy notions of liberty and justice for all?
9:00 AM Turner Classic Movies
The Green Hornet (1940 USA): Chapters 4, 5, and 6 of our Saturday morning serial find The Green Hornet dismantling a time bomb and driving along highways of peril.
7:00 PM The Movie Channel
Hobo With a Shotgun (2011 USA): This film was originally scheduled to air in February but didn’t. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time:
There’s just no way you can go wrong with a film entitled Hobo With a Shotgun - especially when the titular tramp is portrayed by exploitation veteran Rutger Hauer! Hauer plays a homeless wanderer hoping to settle down in a new town, purchase a lawnmower, and start his own gardening business. Alas, garden care opportunities are lacking - and to make matters worse, the locals are a bunch of pricks who don’t treat Hobo with the respect he deserves. Soon he’s locking, loading, and blasting away at anyone who so much as looks at him sideways. If you grew up enjoying ‘80s schlock like The Exterminator (1980), you’ll adore this over the top salute to the grindhouse, which - while not played for laughs - is also grimly funny at times.
Also airs at 10:00 PM.
1:15 AM The Movie Channel
Camp Hell (2010 USA): It’s rarely pretty when actors fall off the "A" list and end up in grade "Z" Hell, but it can be equally embarrassing when they ascend to the heavens after starting their career at the bottom of the barrel. In Camp Hell (originally produced as Camp Hope) we get to see both sides of the coin. Exhibit A is former Lois Lane Dana Delany, now in her mid 50s and no longer a marketable item, here cast as the mother of an adolescent lad (Will Denton) spending time at a Christian boot camp. Exhibit B is the then virtually unknown Jesse Eisenberg, who plays a teenager whose earlier unfortunate experiences at Camp Hope are seen via flashback. Also on hand are Andrew "Weekend at Bernie's" McCarthy as Denton’s bible-thumping pater and Bruce Davison as the crumb bum pastor who runs the camp. The film sat on the shelf until Eisenberg hit the big time with The Social Network, and its belated release surely isn’t doing Delany’s career any favors. Also airs at 4:15 AM.
11:00 PM Turner Classic Movies
Sawdust and Tinsel (1953 SWE): I haven’t seen this Ingmar Bergman feature since sometime in the 1970s but remember absolutely loving it at the time. It’s the story of the members of a traveling circus, amongst them ringmaster Albert (Ake Gronberg), who hasn’t been home in three years and has taken up with other woman Anne (Harriet Andersson) during his extremely extended road trip. Now finally at a point where he can drop by and visit the wife, Albert is unsure about how to proceed - and worried that he will lose Anne altogether if he does go home. Putting his fears aside, he returns to his spouse, whilst Anne follows suit by taking up with actor Frans (Hasse Eckman), setting in motion a series of mind games culminating in ringside tragedy. Why Sawdust and Tinsel left such an impression on me 30-some years ago I don’t know (and won’t know until I watch it again) - it wasn’t a critical success at the time - but I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to reacquaint myself with it.
8:30 AM Fox Movie Channel
The Challenge (1970 USA): Here’s a pretty strange made-for-TV movie. Darren McGavin and Mako star as two soldiers sent to a remote Pacific island to fight a proxy war on behalf of their homelands (the United States, and, er, an unnamed "fifth rate People’s Republic" - wonder who that could be?). James Whitmore plays the wise President eager to avoid pushing the nuclear button, whilst Broderick Crawford portrays the Army general eager to bomb the enemy back to the stone age (if not further). Written by Marc "Shakespeare in Love" Norman, this was also one of the first films to be credited to director Allen Smithee - which is rather strange, as The Challenge is pretty darn good.