By John Seal
June 10, 2013
From the obscure to the obscurest to the merely overlooked or underappreciated; they all have a home in the TiVoPlex! All times Pacific.
10:00 AM Turner Classic Movies
They Drive By Night (1940 USA): Here’s one of those times when I’m positive I must have written about a film at some point over the past decade, but the record doesn’t support my belief. Directed by Raoul Walsh, They Drive By Night stars Humphrey Bogart and George Raft as Paul and Joe Fabrini, two brothers earning a crust working as long-haul truckers. (No truth to the rumor that Mama Fabrini was also in the trade, which would, of course, mean our heroes were mother trucker’s sons.) After their lorry is totaled in an accident the brothers go to work for trucking magnate Ed Carlsen (Alan Hale), a lovable oaf whose wife (Ida Lupino) begins to express an unprofessional interest in Joe. Trouble soon follows. A remake of a 1938 British film of the same name, They Drive By Night is a Walsh career highlight and a prime example of Warner Bros’ appeal to working-class filmgoers.
6:00 AM Turner Classic Movies
Danger Signal (1945 USA): Here’s another little gem from the Warners’ backlot. Directed by Robert Florey, Danger Signal stars TiVoPlex favorite Zachary Scott as Ronnie Mason, a caddish serial killer who works the lonely widows circuit in order to line his pockets with ill-gotten inheritances. Setting his sights on next victim Hilda Fenchurch (Faye Emerson), Mason starts plotting her demise – but then realizes he rather fancies younger sister Anne (Mona Freeman) instead. Think of Danger Signal as a cross between The Honeymoon Killers (albeit a quarter century earlier) and Shadow of a Doubt, and appreciate Scott’s magnificent moustache, the greatest facial hair of ‘40s Hollywood.
4:25 PM Showtime
Knuckleball! (2012 USA): First things first: this is a terrible title for a film, made even worse by the exclamation mark. Look, I know knuckleballers are a unique baseball breed, and that what they do is kinda special in a weird way. But you wouldn’t call a documentary Split-Fingered Fastball!, would you? How about Slurve!? No, you wouldn’t. Rant over: if you can get past the dumb as dirt title (and you’re a baseball fan), you’ll enjoy and be informed by This Film!, which features a ton of fascinating archival footage, humorous anecdotes, and revealing chat. Highlights include appearances by knucklers Tim Wakefield, Tom Candiotti, Charlie Hough, Phil Niekro and of course R. A. Dickey, who won the 2012 Cy Young Award after finishing the season 20-6. In short, baseball fans need to watch This Film! Also airs at 7:25 PM.
1:35 AM The Movie Channel
The Perfect Host (2010 USA): I missed this little gem during its brief 2011 theatrical run, but caught up with it recently via home video. Blending comedy and suspense, The Perfect Host stars David Hyde Pierce as Warwick Wilson, a Los Angeleno who invites a complete stranger (Clayne Crawford) into his home for dinner, then proceeds to pepper him with probing and intrusive questions. And stranger John Taylor has quite a bit to conceal: he’s actually a criminal trying to cover his tracks and escape the hot-on-his-heels coppers. A small-scale character study that get lost in the shuffle at the boxoffice (it didn’t help that it was released at the height of summer blockbuster season), The Perfect Host will not disappoint you. Also airs at 4:35 AM.